Sunday, March 25, 2012

Sugar & Smoke

249 E. Main Street
Fredericksburg, TX 78624
Open Tues-Sat 7-3, Sun 10-2

Update: This joint is CLOSED.

2012: Chef Nicole Davenport may look familiar. It was she who was unceremoniously eliminated from the BBQ Pitmasters reality show in season 2 for a poor cole slaw recipe. Yes, she lost a barbecue competition because of cabbage, so it's fitting that there is none on the menu at Sugar & Smoke. Open for only a couple of weeks when I visited, they were still trying to get their footing. A small offering of smoked meats competed with breakfast items, salads, sandwiches and a whole lot of baked goods. Since my visit, they've embraced the smoker a bit more by adding two more meats to the repertoire along with smoked hummus and a smoked portabella mushroom.

These days they have a five meat sampler plate on the menu, but on this visit my request for a plate of meat only had to be cleared with the chef since they were only offering plated meals with sides. I guess the well-heeled crowd that was there for quiche and chicken salad didn't mind not having the option, but my request quickly resulted in a stunning plate of magazine worthy meat. Given the clientele, I was expecting overly trimmed brisket, but the slices presented had a thick line of nicely softened and crisped fat. Ms. Davenport showed her competition background by presenting gleaming slices of nicely stacked meat that had been brushed with a finishing sauce just before serving. The added flavor was welcome and not overwhelming. Even with the handicap of a gas-fired Ole Hickory pit, there was plenty of good smoke on these tender slices too. I had to confirm that the pork was from the shoulder, because its richness made me think some belly had been mixed in. Served pre-sauced with a peach BBQ sauce, the meat was both smoky and sweet. The one meat that did not work with the sauce was the lamb. The mint vinaigrette belongs on a salad, so be sure to get it on the side. The otherwise delicate meat was moist, tender and barely gamey. It lacked the good smoke of the other two meats, but was certainly enjoyable.

Desserts and sides are usually given little attention at a barbecue joint, but the sides here are thoughtful. Sweet potato fries were fresh and crispy with a dusting of kosher salt. The sugar & smoke pickles aren't free, but the spicy and sweet chips make for a great complement to the meat. With 'Sugar' in the name, they aim to impress with a bevy of baked goods. Word is that the space previously housed a bakery that lost its lease, and much of the staff was retained for this concept when the restaurant opened. The result is a tempting array of pies, cakes, cookies and traditional breakfast goodies. I went for the chocolate flan bundt cake which was dense, rich and moist even without frosting.

While the setting and decor at Sugar & Smoke may give the impression that it's too fancy for well smoked meats, the results were impressive. Sure, the meats come out on a fancy tray with plenty of green garnishes, but when the meal is over, only the garnishes will be left.

Rating ****


Anonymous said...

FYI, the previous bakery that occupied the space was Rather Sweet. Rebecca Rather, an nationally acclaimed baker, is also the co owner of Sugar of Smoke.

Anonymous said...

Rather sweet was far superior to this "replacement" bakery. Their service was poor to say the least, and I found this surprising because it was raining and hardly busy. The"hickory smoked burger" that I ordered was a $10 piece of jerky in between two slices of bread which I took two bites of (received no comp) and left my mouth with a terrible taste for the rest of the day. I am waiting for next restaurant. Do not waste time or money here.

Peggy Moseley said...

Anonymous said...Rather Sweet Bakery occupied the space before Sugar and Smoke and it was far superior than Sugar and Smoke. I agree completely and I am thrilled to hear that Rebecca Rather is opening a new restaurant, The Pink Pig, in Fredericksburg in the fall. I can't wait!!!

Anonymous said...

BTW, now she is NYC attempting BBQ, the slaw issue was a giveaway dribbling in BBQ not a master of the smoke master.

So she is in Tx, EU, Va now NYC.

Speaks volumes of issues.


Each joint is judged on the essence of Texas 'cue...sliced brisket and pork ribs. Sausage is only considered if house made. Sauce is good, but good meat needs no adornment to satisfy. Each review can only be based on specific cuts of meat on that particular day. Finally, if the place fries up catfish or serves a caesar salad, then chances are they aren't paying enough attention to the pits, so we mostly steered clear.