When we say “barbeque“, Singaporeans tend to think of meats slathered in sauce and placed over a grill to cook. We rarely think of the American style of barbeque — meats marinated with dry rubs and cooked in a smoker. That’s where Red Eye Smokehouse comes in.
Opened by the team behind Bukit Timah Saddle Club’s Riders Cafe, this restaurant located at Cavan Road specialises in all types of smoked meats, from chicken and pork to the ubiquitous beef. You’d want to go down early though, the team only smokes a certain amount of meat every day and once it’s finished, the 50 seater restaurant will be closed for the day.
Starting with a side of Macho Nachos ($10), I was super excited when the plate came to my table. Cheese, guacamole, salsa, and beans were all heaped onto a pile of nacho chips, and it looked super sinful.
The chips were crunchy, and the saltiness from the cheese was offset by the freshness of the salsa. There was a slight bit of heat and sourness from the pickled jalapenos, while the guacamole was smooth and creamy.
I decided against going for one of the plates, opting to get different meats and create my own platter instead. Clockwise from the bottom left, I had 200g of Beef Brisket ($15/100g), a side of Sweet Potato Fries ($5/half portion), Maple Corn Bread with Honey Butter ($5/half portion), Burnt End Beans ($5/half portion), Coleslaw ($5/half portion), 350g of the Angus Beef Short Rib ($11/100g), 250g of the Huli Huli Chicken ($4/100g) and a half slab of St. Louis Pork Ribs ($7/100g).
I’m a beef person if you can’t already tell, so I went straight for the Beef Brisket and I loved it. Tender, with a good amount of fat and collagen, I finished an entire slice before I reminded myself that I had more meats to try. Just thinking about it now makes me crave for more.
Moving on to the Huli Huli Chicken, I was a little worried that the meat would have gotten dry due to the long period of time spent in the smoker, but it was all for naught. The meat was perfectly cooked, with a deliciously browned exterior.
It was brined with a Hawaiian-based sauce, which co-founder Jan proudly claimed as her secret recipe with a grin.
Ribs are one of my biggest weaknesses; I usually don’t enjoy getting my hands dirty, but ribs are the one food item I’m (partially) willing to get sauce all over my fingers for because it’s just so hard to get all of the delicious meat off with cutlery.
The St. Louis Pork Ribs at Red Eye Smokehouse? Two thumbs up from me for sure, because the meat was so tender it came straight off the bone with my fork and knife.
It was absolutely amazing how clean the bones were after we devoured the ribs; it almost looked as if we had watched Gordon Ramsay’s tutorial on how to French trim a rack of lamb and decided to try it with the pork ribs – except we completely removed all the meat from the bone!
But the Angus Beef Short Rib was what I was most impressed by. The reason why there isn’t a lot of American style barbecue restaurants in Singapore is not that it’s not good, but rather, because people are put off by the exterior that almost seems chao ta. Well, I’m here to explain to you that it isn’t burnt, or carcinogenic.
The black crust on smoked meats is called bark. This is due to the combination of smoke, a long time spent in the smoker, as well as the dry rub used on the meat. When the meat is cooking, fats from within ooze out onto the surface and dissolves some of the spices in the rub, which then become something like a glaze.
The smoke particles stick to the glaze and that results in the bark becoming that black colour that people mistake as a burnt exterior. It’s one of my favourite parts. It doesn’t taste burnt, but rather, it’s a chewy, jerky-like texture that is infused with the delicious flavours from the rub.
The meat here is definitely drier, but not to the point of becoming tough. There is a nice smoky flavour to the meat, and I learnt that the red ring around smoked meats is highly prized because it means that the meat was properly smoked over low temperatures for a long time.
Although Red Eye Smokehouse is only open for dinners on weekdays (lunch and dinner are available only on weekends) at the moment, this is a perfect restaurant to bring your group of friends to for gatherings, because barbecue tastes best when it’s shared!
Expected damage: $20 – $30 per pax