Did someone say deep fried chicken and waffles?! Canberra’s favourite American BBQ place, Smoque in Civic has opened up a second store in Woden. This normally might not be that big a deal, but there is something Smoque Woden does which is worthy of excitement: Breakfast!
Smoque Woden’s very awesome breakfast menu includes various different sweet and savoury waffles, other classics like the Hawaiian loco moco, burgers, tater tots, milkshakes, filtered coffee and more. It really did feel a bit like a slice of America in Canberra. Smoque in Woden’s fit out and their staff also makes you think that you’ve just stepped into a diner in New York.
After being open for about a month or so, we decided to venture across the bridge and satisfy our cravings for all things delicious and American. Smoque in Woden isn’t located in Woden’s CBD area where the Westfields and everything else worthwhile mentioning is, as our friend learnt the hard way, it’s about a five minute walk through the various government buildings and next to the Hellenic Club’s carpark.
Nestled inside the Abode Hotel, Smoque in Woden has plenty of outdoor and indoor seating. There were red cushioned benches and murals of Elvis and other American diner icons. Its a simple set up, you are greeted at the door by a waiter, seated with menus and then once you’re ready, you order at the counter.
Alrightie, I think that’s enough non-waffle chit chat, time to get to the most exciting part.
First up, The Southern Bell ($13.90) Southern fried chicken with waffle and honey butter. So, Smoque in Woden has a really extensive menu that’s actually really cool! They’ve got heaps of different waffle varieties like The Fat Elvis, which includes peanut butter, bacon and bananas. Of course, us being the terrible people that we are, ended up with the waffles that came with fried chicken, and the waffles that came with fried chicken with eggs on it! Sorry, to anyone out there who wants to see what the other waffles are like, but you know how it is, sometimes you just have to go full American, Midnight Train!
Keeping it traditional to start, this is the classic chicken and waffle combination, the one here at Smoque however, has a pretty amazing addition of whipped honey butter! When I go to pancake joints they always give you the option of ice cream and butter, and you know, at a cost value analysis level, you’d always go the ice cream right? Well that was true for me for ages, then one day, at the behest of my Sister I decided to butter up and I honestly couldn’t believe how good a glob of butter on a pancake could be! This is no different, the butter goes so well on these it’s incredible.
These waffles were cooked really well, were crispy on the outside, fluffy and airy on the inside. These soaked up the maple syrup and butter, but didn’t go all soggy and soft, so they were perfect in that regard. The main event for this dish however, was the deep fried chicken! For people used to American serving sizes, the chicken is probably a bit underwhelming, Smoque has decided to give some deep fried boneless chicken fillets, whereas I was kind of expecting half a deep fried bird like they do in America, but! Probably worth saying that this isn’t America, and it’s probably better for my heart that they’ve done this, so thanks Smoque for keeping me alive.
The chicken here is easily my favourite part of the whole dish, it’s got great spices and it’s so nice and crispy, they tasted much better than they had any right to taste, and I’d probably just pay for a bucket of these chicken pieces if given the opportunity.
For our second dish, we went for something more experimental and grabbed the Benny Hill ($16.90) Southern fried chicken with waffle, poached eggs and hollandaise. This was essentially the southern bell minus the whipped honey butter but with the addition of an eggs benedict. The waffles and the chicken on this one was just as tasty and delicious as the one from above, so I probably won’t talk about them again here. I’m just going to talk about how amazing the addition of eggs and hollandaise sauce is to this old American favourite.
Initially, we were a little sceptical. We weren’t really sure how the creaminess of the eggs and hollandaise sauce would go with the savouriness of the chicken and the sweetness of the maple syrup. I ended up absolutely loving it. You just have so many flavours and textures hitting you left right and centre as you take each bite. You get the creaminess from the egg yolks, whilst also getting a little kick of sourness from the lime in the hollandaise sauce. There is sweetness from the maple syrup and the waffle itself as well as savouriness from the chicken but it doesn’t stop there. There are elements of softness from the eggs, crunch from the chicken and airy and fluffly waffles as well. Some of our more traditional friends preferred the Southern Bell, but if you love your eggs and all things creamy, definitely give this dish a try.
Here is a shot of the two poached eggs. Here is something that’s somewhat common in poached or pwned, one egg perfectly poached, the other slightly pwned. It’s sad when this happens because I feel like eggs should stick together. These did not.
I really enjoyed the addition of egg yolk to this dish. Not only did it make it creamier, eggy and delicious. It also soaked into everything else as well, like the crunchy fried chicken skin and the crispy waffles. This added flavours to other parts of the dish and also softened them as well. If you love all things crunchy, be a little careful where your egg yolk oozes out but for me, this soften was a great but I’ve always been a fan of mushy foods like mashed potatoes and melted ice cream.
For something a little different, we grabbed the Loco Moco ($14.90) rice, burger patty, chicken gravy and fried eggs. This Hawaiian classic has always been something I’ve wanted to try ever since I saw it on Man Vs Food. I don’t know, logically you think about it, it’s a beef patty, rice, egg…doesn’t seem like anything special. But god I want to eat it. It’s likes the best of the West meets the best of the East, this is a racism destroying dish!
The loco moco at Smoque definitely satisfied from a taste perspective. The rice was cooked well, a little on the dry side but that ensured that it went down perfectly with the generous drizzle of gravy. The meat was cooked a little past medium rare which was really nice and allowed the meat to break apart over the rice really easily. The meat wasn’t heavily seasoned or anything, just salt and pepper, so they clearly wanted the meat to speak for itself. The two sunny side up eggs were cooked perfectly, allowing the creamy yolk to ooze out which I dutifully rammed all through the rice so that it became a gravy filled yolky mess.
If you’ve never been exposed to lazy teenage Asian cooking or Japanese hamburg this might be a strange combination. It’s home cooking, basic in style but tastes amazing. Though on a side note, I did think the serving size was a little steep for the $15 price tag. This was more expensive than the waffles which was strange because 1) it’s a lot smaller than the waffles (don’t let the photos fool you) and 2) loco mocos seem a lot easier to make. Its essentially rice, which you just make in a rice cooker, a grilled or fried up burger patty and two sunny side up eggs. To be honest, all this needed was more rice (and a proportional increase in the gravy to ensure it stays moist and delicious) and it would have been perfect. Maybe another patty.
For something a little more breakfasty, we decided to go for the Smoque Bacon Buddy ($12.90) angus burger patty, bacon, egg, tater tots, melted American cheese, mustard and ketchup. Originally went we saw this menu item, we couldn’t quite work out what it was, was it a burger or a plate or something else. It wasn’t quite obvious and to be honest it was the tater tots that threw us off. We thought, no way would it be a burger with tater tots inside it, it can’t be a burger! Anyways, we took a stab in the dark and ordered it. Turns out, its a burger with a side of tater tots (you can kind of see them there in the background). Initially, the crew at Smoque actually forgot out tater tots but once we reminded them, they quickly brought some over. The guy on the table next to us didn’t realise until he overheard us ask for it. So, if you order the bacon buddy, ensure that you get your fair share of delicious deep fried potatoes!
The burger itself was really interesting. It had the makings of a egg and bacon burger, but the addition of the burger patty, cheese, mustard and ketchup put this firmly in the “cheeseburger with extra stuff” camp. The bacon was actually really cool! It’s not just the bacon you get in the deli at your local supermarket, it’s thick cut and was just absolutely fantastic. If you like cheeseburgers, you’ll like this. If you don’t? I’d recommend something else, because that’s essentially what this is.
Sorry, I had to take a picture of this Moon Pie ($2). This wasn’t on the menu or anything but they had a bowl of them for sale next to the counter where you order and since they ran out of cronuts for the day, I decided that this would help satisfy my sugar craving. I love how it says ‘only’ 110 calories!. 110 is kind of a lot of calories for something that isn’t much bigger than a 50c piece. But upon eating it, I kind of figured out why because it was delicious! (and somewhat totally worth it). It was essentially two soft dough cookies with that texture similar to ginger kisses but without the ginger flavour with a gooey layer of marshmallow inside. Sounds really quite basic and whatever but it was surprisingly delicious. I kind of get why America is so fat when 110 calories is marketed like this and their goodies are so darn tasty too!
Finally some drinks, first up the Strawberry milkshake ($5). This milkshake reminded me a lot of my childhood, I couldn’t put my finger on it for ages but I eventually worked it out. It tasted exactly like strawberry Nesquik! But it also had a really strong vanilla ice cream flavour to it as well. This shake was as artificial as it could gets but in all the right ways for an American diner. The strawberry flavour was strong and the ice cream added all the creaminess and thickness you need for a tasty milkshake. I should mention, this wasn’t as thick as the milkshakes I experienced in the States, which is definitely a positive thing. I always thought I really enjoyed thickshakes, until I travelled to America and ended up with shakes so thick they made the all syrup squishee from the Simpsons look like water. You could turn it upside down and nothing would happen! I didn’t love those, I work hard enough chewing food, you want me to work to get liquid in now too?! So, I enjoyed this milkshake at Smoque, it wasn’t gourmet or anything, and it didn’t pretend to be.
We also grabbed a serving of the Smoquey sweet iced tea ($5). This was nice, refreshing and very American like. The ice tea came with a strong, fruity, berry and rooibos like flavour. I’m not sure if there was any rooibos in it, but it gave me a scratchy throat when I drank it and I know rooibos does that to me normally. Plus, there wasn’t a green or black tea after taste to this iced tea it just tasted fruity and delicious. As a side note though, I did find this iced tea very sweet, to the point where it took me the entire two hours we were there to get through it with little sips. Normally, I’ll demolish a sweetened drink or iced tea within minutes of getting it, here the sweetness really got to me. So word of warning for anyone with a more savoury palette, beware of the Smoquey sweet iced tea! Or dilute it with some water, that works too! (In hindsight, I wonder why I didn’t do that).
Couldn’t pass up the truly American filtered coffee when we saw it on Smoque Woden’s menu, American bottomless filtered coffees ($4). Okay, so its just a white cup with a hint of coffee in it but it’s totally photo worthy! When we saw that Smoque Woden was doing bottlomless filtered coffee, we just couldn’t say no. This was definitely something that is just so damn American we couldn’t say no to it, the whole idea of a bottomless cup of fairly low quality coffee is just something we all deeply want. Maybe it’s the novelty, maybe its what we grew up with on TV but who knows. The filtered coffee at Smoque was pretty American like (I know I keep saying that but it can’t be helped!). The coffee wasn’t amazing or anything, it was just super strong and tasted a lot like instant coffee. The only downside was the lack of that American diner service. We envisaged someone coming up to say “fill ya up hun?!” while blowing smoke in our faces, and all we got was a lot of ignoring and a lot of empty cups. They gladly did it when you asked for it, but then you kind of feel crappy for requesting free coffee all the time, so we kept our refills low.
I really enjoyed Smoque Woden’s American breakfast menu. Happy to see there is a place in Canberra where you can get fatty, greasy and delicious American goodies. It’s definitely a nice constrast from all the clean eating cafes that we have. (Not that they’re bad or anything but balance is always good right?!). I’ll definitely be coming back to Smoque Woden in the future for more deep fried chicken and waffles, maybe one day I’ll even try some of their sweet waffle offerings. Outside of this exclusive breakfast menu which is unavailable at Smoque in the city. Smoque Woden also has the same lunch and dinner menu as the one in the city. So all you southsiders can now indulge in ribs, brisket and what not without ever having to cross the bridge ever again.
Since we all know you never will.