Having been wowed by his first-ever beef rib, an "axe-handle of a bone topped with a well-groomed fauxhawk of fatty meat" in Manhattan, The Oregonian's Michael Russell lets us in on a little secret: He's been quietly waiting for beef ribs to come to Portland.
Fortunately, beef ribs were a verbal special when he visited Smokehouse Tavern (sister restaurant to Smokehouse 21 opened in March 2015); unfortunately, by the end of the meal "that beef rib, poorly trimmed, perhaps, had slipped off the bone and crashed to the side, looking like the disabled Star Destroyer from the first 'Star Wars' trailer."
Russell reminds us that Portland is "a city without a native barbecue style," and at Smokehouse Tavern "there are times you wish for more smoke and less sweetness in the meats." Liberal use of Jacobson Salt doesn't work at Smokehouse Tavern, either. "It stays too dry atop these fatty meats, crackling on the tongue like pop rocks." The dining room looks like a "dusky southern hunting lodge," too, even if "designed by 'Project Runway' winner Michelle Lesniak."
He does applaud the restaurant's "spot on" side dishes, such as "crisp shoestring fries" and "collard greens" "packed with plenty of meat." And don't you dare skip the "chocolate chip cookie at dessert."
In the final paragraph, Russell outlines the best possible way to enjoy yourself at Smokehouse Tavern: Sit at the bar with some "oyster shooters and some pig ear rinds"; sip "spot-on" cocktails by Rum Club's Michael Shea; and order "the bar's best bite": deviled eggs "topped with little hot link slices."
And in the comments, Russell directly states his opinion of the beef rib. It "was juicy, fatty and delicious."