CAMBRIDGE - After 15 years of fine tuning his craft in national BBQ competitions, award winning pitmaster Andy Husbands decided to deliver his goods to Cambridge, at a place he calls The Smoke Shop.
"If you think about what you would think of an American barbecue restaurant, you're gonna find it here," he said. "Awesome ribs, pulled pork, best brisket you'll ever have. So kind of a mix of everything."
Located in busy Kendall Square, The Smoke Shop is a high energy kind of spot, whether you're drinking beers at their open air bar or seated back in the cozy dining room. That's where you'll find Andy manning the open kitchen, making sure each and every dish that goes out is up to his high standard.
What ends up at your table is a tray of southern comfort done Chef Andy style, like the ultra-original New Style Deviled Egg, a perfectly cooked six-minute egg topped with housemade hot sauce and served alongside house-smoked bacon and asparagus for an upscale spin on a family favorite.
The slow smoked wings are tossed in a top secret house sauce, and for some additional heat, check out the Hot Links and Pimento Cheese. But if you ask Chef for a personal recommending, he'll tell you to get the Belly and Skins.
"Belly and Skins is my favorite appetizer. It's local belly clams tossed with a little bit of breading, lightly fried but they're still juicy, served with crispy pork skins on top of an Old Bay butter sauce. It is really rich, really decadent, and our bestselling appetizer."
From there, it's all about that traditional, award-winning barbecue that can be ordered in two sizes: the Pit Crew and the Pit Boss.
"Pit Crew gives you an opportunity to try a couple different meats and a couple different sides," Andy explained. "Then we have the Pit Boss which is super cool, and that gives you three different meats. So you could have the ribs, the burnt ends and the brisket and then try three different sides. It's a good way to try a variety of what we do here."
The options are endless.
"We have our first place ribs, prime smoked brisket smoked for 14 hours, pulled pork, burnt ends, hot links, chicken thighs, and of course our wings," Andy listed.
Choosing a side can be even more difficult, with everything from pimento mac and cheese to smoky pit beans and sweet and spicy coleslaw. If there's one side you can't skip, it's the cornbread served with honey sea salt butter
"It is light, it's fluffy, and tossed with this yummy sea salt honey butter. Kind of gives it that yin and yang, salty, sweet, delicious," described Andy.
While he has certainly mastered the classics, Chef Andy tries to constantly reinvent the wheel doing a style of cooking called "New Style City Q."
You can find crispy fried chicken served with something he calls sexy gravy; or a mouth-watering fried chicken sandwich with mint and fermented pepper mayo. Then there's an Asian inspired brisket sandwich topped with kimchee and hot pepper ranch.
"When you bite into it, you know you're gonna get this rush of smoky, salty, peppery brisket, followed by this high notes of kimchi. It's like this mouth explosion of crazy flavors that all work really well together."
When it comes to dessert, you can choose a piece of butter cake that truly is decadent, or get all nostalgic and order some Rainbow Treats.
"Rainbow treats are Rice Krispie treats, but made with some fruity pebbles," Andy said. "What we see with people with the rainbow treats is, they're like, 'oh, I never thought of this,' and they love it. It just brings back fond memories of Rice Krispie treats."
While the long hours of smoking meats and perfecting every plate could take its toll on anyone, this chef wouldn't have it any other way.
"Anybody can cook barbecue, but to cook great barbecue is a real craft. It's slow and low cooking, but it's also your spices, your sauces, and really just making sure it's perfect. I just love that kind of finicky technique it takes to really make high quality barbecue. It's not easy."
You can find The Smoke Shop at 1 Kendall Square in Cambridge, and online at thesmokeshopbbq.com.
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