We were recently in Roanoke, Virginia for my daughter’s travel volleyball tournament. The Team Mom made reservations for the entire team and parents at Smokey Bones which was in walking distance from our hotel. I had never heard of Smokey Bones before, but I was excited to have our first BBQ restaurant to review on BBQYeti.com.
Background of Smokey Bones
Since I have never heard of Smokey Bones, I did a little research prior to our visit. The first thing I learned is that Smokey Bones is actually a chain of restaurants in the Eastern US. The first Smokey Bones opened in Orlando, Florida in 1999. According to Wikipedia, the Smokey Bones chain currently had 66 locations in the US.
It was good to know going in the Smokey Bones was a chain and not a local Roanoke BBQ joint. I set my expectations accordingly.
The food at Smokey Bones
I ordered the BBQ beef brisket and selected steamed broccoli and coleslaw as my sides. The meal also came with a piece of toasted garlic bread.
When my plate came out, I immediately noticed how empty it looked. The amount of brisket was fair for the price, but I definitely could used more broccoli to fill out the plate (and my appetite).
The sides were good enough. It’s really difficult to mess up steamed broccoli. The slaw wasn’t the best I’ve ever had, but it was perfectly acceptable. Slaw is such a subjective side. I think every person has a different opinion on what makes the perfect coleslaw, so I won’t dwell on it in a review unless I find it absolutely repulsive. The garlic Texas toast was generic. It’s the same product you will find in any grocer’s freezer case.
So how was the brisket? Disappointing. It was definitely tender and moist, but it was simply missing flavor. Whatever rub had been applied did little to add flavor to the end product. There was little to no smoke flavor on the brisket which was kind of startling for a place with “smoke” in the name. The only real perceptible flavor came from the KC style BBQ sauce that was slathered on top. If this brisket meat had been served with gravy and mashed potatoes at a Cracker Barrel, you could have easily convinced me it was just sliced roast beef and not smoked brisket.
I did hear from some of the other volleyball parents that we dined with that the smoked chicken wings were quite good. If we ever find ourselves at a Smokey Bones again, I will definitely give the wings a try.
The drinks at Smokey Bones
The sign outside of Smokey Bones advertises “Ribs. Quality Meats. Bourbon.” How could I not try some bourbon?
The restaurant has a full bar and an extensive drink menu. There is a whole section of the drink menu dedicated to bourbon. Several different bourbon flights are available.
I chose the Kentucky Bourbon Flight. Bourbon flights come served in four tiny Mason jar style glasses. The Kentucky flight includes selections from Angel’s Envy, Makers 46, Evan Williams and Woodford Reserve. The Angel’s Envy was the standout of the bunch. It was smooth and sweet. At the other end of the taste spectrum was the Evan Williams selection. It just tasted like cheap, harsh booze. Not good.
My wife prefers the sweeter, fruity drinks. She chose the Sweet Bourbon Peach Tea. Sweet Bourbon Peach Tea is Maker’s Mark or Buffalo Trace Bourbon + Aperol Liqueur + peach purée + hand squeezed lemon juice + house brewed sweet tea and topped with a peach skewer and fresh rosemary. She told me she really enjoyed her drink. I tasted it myself, but it was just too sweet for me.
The service at Smokey Bones
We showed up as a large party of about 25. Our reservations had been made in advance for 5PM. Two sets of tables had been pushed together to accommodate our group. One set of tables was for the team and the other set was for the parents. We were all seated promptly upon our arrival.
The food preparation took a acceptable amount of time for a group our size. Food was served to the team’s table first and then the parent’s table a few minutes later. I thought that service tactic was a good idea. It allowed everyone at each table to eat together at the same time. Nothing is more annoying than being the only one at your table without your meal.
The wait staff was friendly and attentive. They never let my soft drink run out. It was impressive how they were able to provide such great service to our large party.
Another group at our hotel said that their service was much slower. However, their reservation wasn’t until 6PM which I think put them right into the dinner rush. My pro-tip would be to make your reservations for 5PM (or earlier) if you are expecting Smokey Bones to accommodate a large group.
Summary of our visit to Smokey Bones in Roanoke, Virginia
The food at Smokey Bones in Roanoke, Virginia was just okay. Nothing I had was ostensibly bad, it was all just unremarkable. Smokey Bones has a large drink selection and the bar service was very good.
I was impressed with the overall service and the way that the staff accommodated our large party. If you have a large party, you should book in advance and plan to eat earlier to avoid dinner crowds.
Based on the service we received, I would at least try a Smokey Bones again if the opportunity arises. However, I’ll definitely avoid the beef brisket and try another BBQ entree to see if they can redeem themselves.