Smokeworks is a quite new (2014) barbecue ribs and burger restaurant in Cambridge, near Market Square. It also has a food truck which tours pubs in the area or can be hired. In addition to the BBQ, there are a handful of side dishes (between the four of us we covered most), a veggie burger which changes occasionally, and a good range of interesting beers and cocktails, plus some fancy milkshakes. It doesn’t take reservations so we had to wait 15 minutes for one of the fourteen tables split between the airier upstairs and the vault-like downstairs.
Staff were very good, friendly and helpful – for instance, pointing out to one of our group that he’d ordered a side dish which was virtually the same as his same main dish. If you can’t get straight to a table, aren’t driving and can get an extra beer at a nearby pub somewhere they’ll ring you when your table is ready. Food was pretty highly regarded overall. I’ll go back, as £65 for four tasty filling meals and a drink each is pretty good, and I enjoyed the whole experience… particularly the service call system which involves twisting an alarm button!
I had halloumi in a bun (also comes with lettuce and mushroom if you like), while my vegetarian companion had a sweet potato and blue cheese burger. The former was quite a lot of cheese fried to a nice texture, while the latter was a little bland but had a good chewiness. Both came with tomato, BBQ Mayo (nice), turmeric gherkins (very good) and coleslaw (interestingly pickled) in the bun, and either one big or two small side dishes.
Fiancée had glazed pork belly (slightly disappointing) with mashed potato and salsa verde (good), while our fourth thought her BBQ ribs were very tender although the standard sauce hadn’t penetrated the meat far. Our sides were chips (skin on, fine), sweet potato fries (very good), potato salad (with mustard, gherkins and buttermilk – delicious) and pickled chillies (quite hot, not too bitter). Passion fruit Bellini and Chiron pale ale were both enjoyed by their drinkers; hot sauce was very hot and nicely spiced.
Address: 2 Free School Lane, Cambridge CB2 3QA
Directions: Between Market Square and Kings Parade, opposite the Eagle pub.
(A version of this review was originally posted by me on VT)