FTLToday Quik Bite: Smokey Bones Bar & Fire Pit, Ft. Lauderdale
Smokey Bones has been open for years on US1 in Ft. Lauderdale. The chain restaurant used to be owned by the 'Darden Restaurants'. Who is Darden Restaurants? Olive Garden, Red Lobster, Capital Grill…etc. In 2007, Darden sold Smokey Bones off to Sun Capital. That is around the time the chain started to make some changes. They got a new logo…they started to push the 'smoke pit' aspect as well. I've eaten at this location more than a few times and for the most part It's 'hit or miss'. Today's trip in was a total 'miss'. We received one of those $10 off $20 coupons in the paper and decided to use it.
(Smokey Bones - Ft. Lauderdale/Pompano Beach)
(Smokey Bones entrance - the stone makes it look a bit upgraded)
The building is kind of modeled after a log cabin. I guess it's supposed to make you think you are out in the wilderness….maybe because that is where they smoke things? They have a separate 'To Go' counter if you wish to carry out, which is a nice touch. They push happy hour and have a number of TV's at the bar. They also have some TV's placed around the restaurant so you can usually see at least 2 no matter where you sit. We were sat in a booth along the bar perimeter. They used to have speakers on each table that allowed you to 'change channels' to hear each of the TV's they have around the restaurant…but they removed them a few years ago. Maybe they were trying to move away from the 'sports bar' feel?
(Smokey Bones inside 'bar' area)
Our server showed up right away and took our drink orders. Diet Cokes. They showed up fairly quickly and she gave us a few minutes to look over the menu. The menu has pages of items so it might be hard to choose. Let me offer a side note. Whatever you do…GET THE BBQ PORK. I've tried many things at this place and the only item that is worth ordering is the pulled pork or the Spare Ribs. With that said, I will now go into what we ordered (it wasn't pork). They are really pushing their burgers. Signs are all over the restaurant and there is even a menu section on 'crafting your own burger'. I figured the burgers must be pretty good…especially since they are a BBQ place and they seem to cost between $7-$10. You can get one of their 'specialty' burgers or create your own. All of the big toppings cost between $.50 and $1.50 so you can really break the bank if you are not careful.
We started our with the Kettle Chips. They were 'new' and at $4.99 figured…why not? The Kettle Chips seemed to take a really long time to show up at the table. So much time that I was worried that all the food was going to show up at the same time. When they finally showed up…we were totally underwhelmed. The portion overall was skimpy…and I think we got the 'bottom of the bag'. I'll swear that these chips are shipped frozen from 'corporate' and they just drop them in the fryer and serve them. They were 'ok' tasting…but nowhere near to looking like the picture in the menu. The sauces were weak. One was this white thick sauce that might have been ranch…but had no taste at all. The buffalo sauce was good, but tasted like every wing sauce you buy at Publix. The BBQ Mustard sauce was the best of the 3.
(Smokey Bones Kettle Chips - not worth the calories)
We then waited for another 15 minutes or so for our burgers. When they finally came out…they immediately made a comment "we will bring out more fries for you guys". When I looked at the plate…there was a pathetic portion on each plate. I guess the fry guy was sleeping and didn't time things well. How you can't keep the fries going in the kitchen puzzled me, since most every entrée has them. The burgers were dropped off by a 'runner' (not our server) and about 30 seconds later…our server stopped by and looked at Jeff's burger. She made a face and snapped it up "I'll be right back". So I'm looking at him, he's looking at me…puzzled. After a few minutes she returns and says "pretend you didn't see that". Hmmm. I'll tell you what that probably was at the end of the review.
Now onto the burgers. The burgers are HUGE. Comically huge when they show up..and quite a mess. They both looked like someone threw the burger together on their first day at work. I ordered the KC BBQ Burger. It's topped with lettuce, tomato, pickle, cheese, KC BBQ Sauce, 2 Onion Rings and BBQ Pulled Pork. Jeff ordered the Steakhouse Burger. It's topped with lettuce, tomato, pickle, cheese and bacon. He also opted to add extra grilled jalapeno. Oh…Just as we were taking pictures and cutting into our burgers…the extra fries showed up. These burgers are not cheap and they don't even come with sides. You have order those separate and pay $1 or $2 extra (depends on which you want). We were expecting some serious burgers.
My burger came with everything promised. What they failed to say on the menu? A flavorless beef patty…cold onion rings and the fact that they were going to only give me a drop of BBQ sauce. While the burger itself was cooked to 'medium'…it didn't matter. The cheese overpowered the flavor anyway. The best thing on the burger? The BBQ Pulled Pork. The only thing I could do as I scraped the BBQ Pork off of my burger is wish I chose that item for my meal.
(KC BBQ Burger - Thrown together falling apart and the pathetic serving of fries)
(A closer look at the KC BBQ Burger AFTER I put the thing together on my plate)
Jeff wasn't too happy with his burger either. The bacon was old bacon that seemed to be sitting around for a while and wasn't too 'crisp'. He even left some of the jalapeno and that was totally unlike him. He said that the jalapeno didn’t sit well…but I'm thinking it was the burger itself.
(Steakhouse Burger...leaning over...with yet another great huge portion of $1 extra fries)
We got the bill and noticed something. For Jeff's burger it said 'avocado'. Hmmm…I can only guess that is why our server snatched away his burger when it was put down. I'm guessing that she verbally told them it should be jalapeno and they didn't get it correct.
Overall…I would say to pass Smokey Bones on by. If the only good item is your BBQ Pork…there are plenty of other places that do that right in Ft. Lauderdale. This restaurant is way to inconsistent to even hit up with a $10 coupon. I'd say they should but the menu in 1/2 and stick to just pork. Also, don't charge $1 for fries and still skimp on them.
Smokey Bones Bar & Fire Pit location:
6500 North Federal Highway
Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
FTLToday Score: D (only because I've gotten good ribs here in the past)