Monday, January 3, 2011

Smokehouse on Shelby

So the other night we were headed to Radio Radio to see a friend’s band and decided to give the Smokehouse on Shelby a try.  I had been once before, but couldn’t really remember the details of the menu.  We were intrigued by several of the old school appetizers offered and decided to go with an appetizer sampler.  I asked our server what things were made fresh and he assured me that everything on the menu was made fresh.  Well, hello potato skins! And fried mushrooms and chicken wings. (You can choose three of 4 choices on the sampler platter, with the other one being onion rings).  So we really enjoyed the skins and the mushrooms.  The mushrooms were actually coated in cracker crumbs and fried.  They weren’t too big and were served with cocktail sauce for dipping.  While the cocktail sauce itself was pleasantly spicy and had a very nice flavor, I didn’t think it suited the mushrooms that well and dipped mine in the blue cheese that was for the wings.
The potato skins were interesting—a slightly different take than your typical ones—they had smoky chili on them and then the cheese and the green onions.  Sour cream was served on the side.  They were good—they were freshly made and had a nice crisp skin and a fair amount of the soft potato still there.  The chili gave it a very hearty flavor. Much more so than the regular bacon that you might see with the beans.  This was a fairly thick layer of chili.
Our least favorite was the chicken wings.  They were smoked and had a nice smoky flavor, but they seemed a bit dried out.  The wings were served with hot sauce, which packed a fair amount of punch.  They were interesting though in that they were not deep fried—just smoked.  I normally would really appreciate that kind of variation for health reasons, but these were just a little too dry.  The blue cheese dressing served with these (and also on the little side salad that hubby had as one of his side dishes) was really tasty.  The dressings are all made in house and this one was really nice.  Didn’t have that fakey bottled taste at all. 
For my main dish, I had the half chicken which according to the menu was marinated and applewood smoked. Unfortunately, it was also a bit dry.  But the thing that saved it was the really tasty barbeque sauce (hubby and I both got the sweet).  Wow, this barbeque sauce was delicious.  Not super sticky sweet—just the right amount of tanginess and smokiness and a bit of heat (more than you might expect from something called “sweet.”)  I would probably buy this sauce if they sold it by the bottle. It was quite good.  And dipping the chicken in it made up for some of the dryness.
For my sides I had potato salad and mac and cheese.  The mac and cheese wasn’t bad. It was creamy but didn’t have a ton of flavor.  The potato salad was a miss—it was called “mustard potato salad” which intrigued me—I generally really like mustard.  But this had little or no flavor to it in my opinion, mustard or anything else.  And I like a tangy potato salad to balance out barbeque, but this one wasn’t cutting it.
Hubby had the ribs.  They were St. Louis style, meaning dry rubbed and smoked.  Hubby went with them because he loves ribs, although he tends to prefer the type that is cooked in sauce and more fall off the bone (Kansas City  style).  As it turns out, he probably should’ve followed his instinct because he didn’t really care for them, because they were so dry and a bit challenging to get off the bone.  He also loved the barbeque sauce too though.  He also had a side of curly fries, which I thought, no way are they making those in house, but sure enough, they looked like they were.  And they were pretty tasty, with a light battery breading on them.
So I love that this place is making everything in house. That is a real challenge to find in a casual restaurant like this.  The appetizers were quite good; unfortunately I wasn’t really into the smoked meats.  I would be interested to try the pulled pork sandwich though—bits of meat with a bunch of the sauce might be pretty tasty.  And all the sauces were outstanding—the cocktail sauce, the blue cheese dressing and the barbeque sauce.  Someone is doing a great job with these.
This place is obviously a pretty popular place though as it was pretty much full, including several families.  The interior is very old school diner feeling with some giant antique letters on the wall and some great old movie posters.  The service was efficient enough, although I can’t say it was overly friendly.   So I know a lot of you are fans of Fountain Square, have you eaten at this place? What’s good? And who has the best barbeque in town?  And while I am thinking about it, anyone know of a place in town that does the South Carolina style mustard based barbeque sauce? I love that stuff.
Smokehouse on Shelby
1105 Prospect Street
Indy, 46203

Smokehouse on Shelby on Urbanspoon


  1. Jessica in NoblesvilleJanuary 4, 2011 at 7:29 PM

    I haven't yet tried the Smokehouse on Shelby, but your review is enticing. I love that they do so much in house!

    My favorite local bbq is Black Diamond off Binford on the NE side of Indy ( They have very moist brisket and pork shoulder. They catered our neighborhood's annual picnic and did an amazing job, at a fraction of the cost of other places we tried. They're worth the 20 minute drive from Noblesvile!

  2. Jessica,

    thanks for the rec. That place is so close to my house and I have never been there. You have convinced me to check it out. thanks!

  3. I've also had the ribs & been disappointed (got a gift card for my birthday).

    However, the one thing that's never been bad there is the pulled pork sandwich. Loaded, fresh, and juicy, with a side of their great BBQ sauce (partial towards the spicy). Sweet potato fries and baked beans are usually what I get. That's a lot of food for $6.50!

  4. We went during 2010's summer Devour Downtown an just weren't impressed- it wasn't horrible, but nothing outstanding. Just not into that smoked style either.

    On that note, you MUST head down a little further south to All-American Clubhouse (S. Meridian and Hanna) for some OUTSTANDING BBQ. Good service and beer selection too- would be anxious to seea review. We were surprised at how good it was, especially considering it looks like any other hole-in-the-wall pub at first glance.

  5. Same here Samantha, I was totally underwhelmed. I felt like the wings were reheated from the night before. When my husband ordered as side of veggies they were hardly cooked and mostly big pieces of red onion. Ribs were blah. I do appreciate that they do everything inhouse, but if it's not done well i'd rather have it out-sourced.
    Ditto on Black Diamond. YUM!

  6. I have been a couple of times and it was okay, what struck me the most was how bad and slow the service was both times and trust me it wasn't busy, I always give servers the benefit of the doubt, so went back after the first time, same server months apart and still slow and bad.

  7. Drew- I wondered about that sandwich... maybe next time.

    Tucan Samantha and Katywren- thanks for the recs!

  8. Laura in Garfield Park
    I use to work in Fountain Square and would get lunch there often. My favorite of the meats were the brisket and pulled pork. I agree with you 100% on everything in your review, some items are just too dry. I'm might a big BBQ fan unless it's perfect. The sweet sauce is amazing and I would ask for two sides of it.
    Another tasty treat there, the milkshakes and grilled cheese.