Smoque Restaurant – Eating In

by The Editor

A huge amount of interest has been shown in Canberra’s latest journey into the land of ‘Dude Food’. For many, the idea of American cuisine is simply overwhelming. For those that are keen to harden their arteries and loosen a belt loop Smoque provides what may possibly be Canberra’s number one culinary indulgence.

We arrived lunchtime on Friday: the second day of trading. Having attempted to make a phone booking earlier that morning, we were politely informed by co-owner Ash Fanning the policy was for ‘walk-ins only’. Slightly nervous, we arrived at the restaurant to find it almost filled with adventurous and eager diners.

Finding a sunny spot in the upstairs window, we perused the menu. Surprisingly there are a number of salads on offer ($11.90 to $15.90) that look deliciously healthy, but that was not why we were here. We want grease; and lots of it.

Ordering is done at the counter. Behind you is a stand filled with condiments, serviettes and – should you feel a small concession to delicacy – cutlery. Mind you, the menu actively encourages eating with your hands, so we suggest a quick survey of you dining company prior to diving in.

We returned to our seats armed with a table number, a Cherry Coke and a can of A&M Root Beer. We had not intention of doing this by half. A quick sip of the foreign drinks reveals surprising flavours: the Root Beer tastes like Listerine and the Cherry Coke much like cough syrup. All we conclude from these is this may be the closest we come to ‘health’ in the next 30 minutes.

There are done nice touches to the decor that enhances the ‘Americano’ feeling of Smoque. Large potted cacti can be found everywhere. The sweeping curve of the main counter has the feeling of a traditional diner, while giant arrows lit along their edge with light bulbs hark back to the industrial design style of post World War II design where optimism and consumption were prominent.

The food arrives at once, stacked of the arms of a cheery waitress. The Carolina Pulled Pork ($14.90) sits in a basket of its own. The meat is incredibly moist with a slight pink tinge – clearly cooked to mouth-watering perfection. A taste reveals the marinades that have worked their way through the pork. A nice touch is the side serving of cornbread and a pickle (gherkin).

Our plate of six Buffalo Wings ($8.90) is a sensation. The skin is caramelised to a sticky state of deliciousness. Biting through with a slight crunch, the chicken inside is as delicate as the pulled pork and falls straight of the bone. They’re the best we’ve tasted and we’re relieved we didn’t take on the 48 piece serving ($59.90) as we probably would have tried to eat them all immediate prior to a trip to Accident and Emergency.

Our final dish is an equally indulgent though small bowl of Three Cheese and Macaroni ($3.90). Made with Mozzarella, Cheddar and Parmesan it has a sublime flavour, and for us it acts as some heart-stopping form of sorbet as we move between the stronger dishes.
It’s clear we were impressed by the food. The biggest surprised at Smoque was the efficiency of the restaurant. Although they were busy less than 24 hours after opening the doors, everything from ordering to waiting time to plate clearing gave the impression of a venue that had been open for a lot longer.

So, did we like Smoque? The answer should be clear. With the skills of a chef who has worked in Michelin starred restaurants, a hot-to-trot food style, well-trained staff and a competitive price point, there’s very little NOT to like.


Bailey’s Arcade,
London Circuit
Canberra City

02 6162 3350 (not functioning at time of posting)

Mon – Thu: 12:00 15:00
17:30 00:00
Fri – Sat: 12:00 00:00