I like meat. Piles of protein, slow cooked in a rich sauce, or quick grilled on an open flame, or baked in a meat pie, or sautéed with some garlic. BBQ'd meat, rich, savoury taste, the crispy, blackened edges, and moist tender meat inside, is a favourite. I love a good piece of chicken, introduced to some smoke, and some herbs, marinated then chucked around some flames for a while. Well-cooked pork ribs are also good, with a thick sauce, if done well I'm in hog heaven (pun intended).
Smoken' Bones moved out of Langford a while ago, and have now moved into the bottom of the Hudson building. I'd be to the Langford location a few years back, and enjoyed the food, so when a Groupon came up, it was a good excuse to try out the new location. The room is style on industrial chic. Concrete floors, big windows onto the street (Douglas is not that great a view around this block, though) and functional rows of tables catering from 2 to 20. They seem to be ideal for catering to a large group, who want to enjoy a communal, loud meal. This isn't a quiet little bistro for a intimate date.
Anyway, the noise swims around the room, but doesn't swallow up everything, so while there's atmosphere, the acoustics mean you can talk to the person opposite. Many places could do with following this example. It's good to talk. It's not good to shout and scream to be heard.
We had hardly been seated when the waitress asked us for our order. We needed a few minutes, and it was a bit jarring to feel rushed. But she came back again in good time, got us drinks and took the food order. I went for the Smoked and roasted chicken with a half rack of ribs and a side of dirty mexican rice cakes. Obviously to try out all the food. My friend ordered the burger and hand-cut fries.
The fries were huge, solid chunks of potato. Crispy outside, soft on the inside. Top notch. Fries don't make a meal (whatever New York Fries tries to tell me). The burger was a good size, and plenty good enough, I was told. Good sized servings on both plates, which was good, as some people had told me the portions were a little small. The ribs were just okay. The meat was a bit dry, and the BBQ flavour was not that prominent. The meat didn't have that fall of bone quality that you'd expect. The chicken, I thought, was excellent though. Tender on the inside, moist, smoky flavour, just crisped on the outside, with a just enough sauce.
The biggest disappointment was the dirty rice cakes. I was expecting a pile of rice shaped into a disc and maybe just slightly fried to keep its shape. These were over fried, greasy and lacking in any flavour. Dirty rice should have some flavour from the vegetables and the stock. This was just fried, coloured rice. Not good at all. Was the special for the night, and I should have gone for the corn bread, which many people seem to recommend.
But really, actually, for BBQ in Victoria, I should have gone to Pig (on Blanshard). Smoken' Bones doesn't seem to offer anything over Pig, except for a larger space and more variety in the menu. The food isn't as good. Table service is nice, and I had no problems with it apart from the initial rush to take out order. The price was okay. I was well fed for my dollars, though value was improved by the Groupon I used. But unless there's a big group of us, won't be rushing for a second try.
Half Rib and quarter chicken plate - $21
Cheese Burger - $14
2 Cokes - $5
Total : $52 with taxes and tip
Phone : 250-391-6328
Address : 7-1701 Douglas Street, Victoria, BC V8T4K6
Website : Smoken' Bones