Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Smokehouse at Route 46

We enjoyed a decent meal at The Smokehouse at Route 46 the other night. The Route 46 complex is actually three different restaurants in what's called an entertainment complex on Route 46 in Sanford, just east of the Seminole Town Center Mall. I have eaten here before and have always had a satisfying experience. The Smokehouse is a laid back, somewhat noisy sort of place with both indoors and outdoor seating. During lunch you order at a counter and they bring your food out to you, but for dinner they've recently converted to "sit down" dining with table service and ordering from your waitperson. The other two eating establishments are "The Saloon"--more of a bar or cocktail lounge atmosphere, and "Monroe's" which is a more expensive, closer to fine dining experience--neither of which I've been to yet.

We arrived in "The Smokehouse" to a sign that said, "please seat yourself." Trouble was, there were no free tables. However, the host quickly approached us, took our name, assessed the situation, and said it would be maybe 15-20 minute wait. It was about 10, so not too bad. They did change the sign to "please wait to be seated" and seemed to handle future arrivals quite well. It can be a bit confusing beacuse there are actually two entrances. Nonetheless, they were pretty well organized--for the most part.

Our waitress took our drink order. I asked about any ale on tap and was told about their Route 46 Ale which I ordered--twice! It was not too bad, perhaps a bit more sweet and less hoppy than I really like, but it was a good beer nonetheless. I was dining with my folks and a friend, they all had tea or coffee or water. Heck, I wasn't driving!

We ordered an appetizer, the Pulled Pork Cocktail. I asked our waitress what it was, and she described it and also said it was one of her favorites. That was good enough for me, we ordered it. It came out rather quickly. Basically it was a layer of their baked beans topped by a layer of pulled pork and topped with coleslaw, served in a crock. It was actually very, very good. We all enjoyed it and all liked it a lot. The creamyness and juicyness of the baked beans combined with the pulled pork were contrasted by the crunch and acid of the coleslaw. I really liked this dish. It was made even better by a bit of the spicy barbecue sauce. We finished this up, lickety-split!

Both my freind, Tommy, and I ordered the soup, the White Bean Chicken Chili. I will say the name is confusing. Is it a soup or a chili? Well, I'd proclaim it a soup because it's thinner than a chili should be. Nonethless, it had a very good flavor. It was not too spicy hot (I could have stood a bit more but I like that kind of heat), but had a rich and hearty flavor. I'd eat this again. And again. And again! 

In due time our entrees arrived--oops, well, 3/4 of us got served. That was a bit maddening. I believe that all diners should be served at the same time, and that it's the job of both the kitchen and the waitperson to make sure that happens. My Mom ordered the Applewood BLT, a sandwich, but it came out several minutes after the rest of us were served. That should not happen, and especially not with a sandwich--what's to cook? That was a bit disappointing. The waitress did apologize for the delay. Eventually, we all had our food. 

Tommy ordered the Half Chicken Plate. His two sides were Creamed Spinach and Sweet Potato Fries. He liked his sides but did question whether the chicken was fully cooked. I did take a look and believe it was, but it was not falling off the bone cooked. It was tender and juicy, though. He had some leftovers but will cook the chicken a bit more just in case.

Mom ordered the Applewood Bacon BLT and really enjoyed it. This was your classic BLT but with a nice, smoky, applewood bacon on it. Thoroughly enjoyable and she ate the whole thing. For a side she had the Creamed Spinach and really liked it.

Dad also had the Half Chicken Plate. For sides he had Sweet Potato Fries and Baked Beans. I asked him about the smoke, and he said he really didn't taste much smoke. But overall he enjoyed the meal and has some left for another day.

I had the Ribs and Quarter Chicken Plate. For sides I had Creamed Spinach and Baked Beans. The creamed spinach was outstanding. I liked the fact that it had a bit of crunch yet--not overcooked. It had a very nice flavor. The baked beans were also good, though just a bit on the watery side. Not out-of-the-can watery, but a little less thick than I'd like them. I did not get a lot of smoke from them, either. My ribs consisted of a slab of four ribs. They were not fall-off-the-bone ribs and were done with a dry rub. They were tasty and tender, but I did not get a lot of smoke flavor or smell from them. It left me wondering about the smoke part of smokehouse. My chicken breast was tender and juicy, quite tasty actually. But again, I did not get a lot of smoke. I liked my meal, it was all pretty darned good, but the only thing I found really lacking was smoke, and that seemed a bit odd for a smokehouse. Now Tommy said he got the smoke, so maybe my nose was just not working to well.

At any rate, we had a decent meal here for a decent price. It is a bit loud, so be forewarned about that. It's a nice family atmosphere. I think they've done a good job of capturing what I think a 1940s or so smokehouse may have been like. There are other great BBQ place in the Orlando area as well, some nearby such as Kellers, others a bit further away such as Bubbalou's, and some--which I've not been too--that have rave reviews, such as Four River's. But still, The Smokehouse on Route 46 served up an OK meal for a fair price.
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