I got a birthday coupon from Smokey Bones, so I headed on down for some steak. It was a bit eery when I entered the almost empty parking lot; they've taken down the big logo that was on the front of the building, so it just looks like a log cabin in the middle of a sea of asphalt.
This location has 2 big dining rooms and a large bar area in between; The back dining room is usually closed at lunch; they usually seat me in the front room. I looked in and saw a woman with a baby, and my spirits dropped. "Please don't seat me next to the baby", I was thinking. But today they seated me in the bar area. It was a nice, big booth so no complaints.
The bad thing about sitting in the bar area is that you're usually served by the bartender, and it can be less than ideal. But here I had a regular server, so it made no difference (and no babies).
Smokey bones Bar Area
A server came right over and took my beverage order.
Smokey Bones Ice Tea
They have these self-ordering things on the table, but they're fairly useless the first time you encounter them because they're not intuitive enough for you to use it without someone telling you what to do. The first thing they tell you is that it costs 99 cents to play the games, which seems as lame as lame could be. Plus you can only order apps or request another round of drinks, so it's not like you don't need a server or don't have to tip.
Smokey Bones Ziosk Terminal
I was hoping they'd have some fancy smoked steak, but there wasn't much of interest, so I just ordered a full-sized sirloin with slaw and broccoli. You get a fancy flavor topping for your meat; I ordered the "steakhouse butter" and also extra butter for the broccoli. Everyone serves broccoli dry for some reason and it's just ridiculous.
Music here is surprisingly bad. Even with a largely middle-aged clientele, they insist on playing Katy Perry, One Republic and "Ghetto Princess". Some spin doctors mixed in for effect.
The steak came out in 4 minutes; it doesn't take long to cook a 3/4" steak to medium rare.
Smokey Bones Full Size Sirloin
I didn't expect the "Steakhouse Butter" to be brown. It tasted like they mixed the butter with Worcestershire sauce; it was terrible.
Smokey Bones Steakhouse Butter (Don't get this)
It's a good thing that I ordered the extra butter, although I didn't expect it to be melted. The cole slaw was fine; it's some fiber that seems better for me than a load of mashed potatoes.
The steak was a chewy sirloin that was cooked properly. Nothing particularly great about it.
With the coupon this was about $20 with tip, which is about what I've been paying for a salad and a drink.
This is a huge place and I just wonder how well they do with their OK but nothing special menu. The Kiosk thing might be useful if they were more intuitive, had free games and got me better service or saved on the tip; but I don't see it doing any of those things. What happens on a crowded NFL Sunday with 7 people order a round at the same time? The machines aren't making the drinks.
It's a comfortable restaurant run by people who don't understand that their clientele doesnt like the music they play. Not much different than most other place.
3 Stars down the line.
Smokey Bones Fort Lauderdale
Smokey Bones is about as far north as you can go in Fort Lauderdale and still not be in Pompano Beach; it's a very large space with a huge parking lot that has always been very empty whenever I've been here. At 2:50pm they don't even bother to have a hostess; I was waiting by the stand and I heard a voice from the bar; no hostess this time of day, just make yourself comfortable and I'll get you a menu.
The big room on the south side seems pretty freshly decorated; it seems separate from the rest of the restaurant.
Smokey Bones Dining Room
While they try to sell themselves as a sports bar, there are no TVs at all in this part of the restaurant. No speakers; the music is quite loud in the bar area. It's like they built an extension but didn't bother to run a power line out.jump-->
It took me a while to figure out what I was having. If you sign up for the Bones Club on their web site, they'll send you a $10 off on a $20 purchase coupon via email. It seems that you can sign up for every email that you can create (I did it twice with the same result). So I had to order more than usual to get the check up to $20. I settled on a combo; I wanted some ribs, so I got the Baby Back Ribs combo. At $16.99, it comes with one "favorite" and 2 sides. I went with the smokey wings as the favorite and cole slaw and their "big mac and cheese" as the sides; the "Big Mac & Cheese" is a $2 extra charge; note that there is no small or regular sized Mac & Cheese.
The setup here is kind of hokey; their signature is that they give you a paper bag for the bones, instead of a plate or a bucket.
Smokey Bones Setup
They have nutrasweet yellow, which is their answer to splenda. Not bad, about the same I'd say. Music here is all over the place; Queen, Colby Caillat, One Republic, Don Henley. Again, not too loud since the speakers are a room and a half away.>
When the food came out; It was less than I expected.
Smokey Bones Baby Back Combo
I guess I expected more than 4 ribs; why call it a Rib Combo if there are no more ribs than the second choice? As my server slid away, I mentioned that some blue cheese for the wings would be good.
Smokey Bones Blue Cheese
But the big disappointment was the Big Mac & Cheese; mainly because it didn't look like the picture on the menu.
Smokey Bones Staged Mac & Cheese
One of the things that really bothers me is staged pictures; what you actually get should at least resemble the photos. The picture is individually baked; what you get is a couple of spoonfuls of stuff from a big pot. Notice how the picture is heaping tall; while there's a lot less in the "actual". False advertising. It's not very good either.
The wings are dry rubbed and smoked; they were pretty good, but had a hint of sweetness that I didn't like. Brown Sugar most likely; The cole slaw was very creamy and sweet; it would have been better if it was less of both. The ribs were very good; not too much sauce but not very meaty either.
Smokey Bones Baby Back Ribs
Service here is amateurish; all of the servers are young girls and you know what that means, although she was attentive. I didn't get a sharp knife and cutting into ribs with a butter knife can be a challenge, and little pieces of paper remained on the table throughout the experience; the garbage bag was never removed. Little things.>
For $18.99 this is no tremendous bargain, although it was when considering the $10. off coupon. For $12.95 this was a meal and a half.
I've passed this place numorous times, and I never really knew anything about it. It looks like something left over from long ago; one of those old Florida joints that are way past their time. But its really not like that at all.
Smokey Bones is actually a large chain owned by Sun Capital Partners, who also own Boston Market, Hickory Farms and Friendly's. Its actually a pretty nice place inside; brightly lit, open and not cramped. Their menu is quite extensive and its not just barbecue; they have a full menu with Ribs and Smoked meats only a part of it.
The entire restaurant has been retooled with new LCD TVs and its a big improvement over the old tubes they had all over the place. The dining rooms are comfortable for dining and also for watching the games from your table.
Smokey Bones Fort Lauderdale Dining Room
The bar area has 5 large TVS on each side with an extra large one in the corner that can be viewed from any seat on that side of the bar. The screens are close and viewing it clear and easy.
Smokey Bones Fort Lauderdale Bar
They have all sorts of regular apps like chicken wing and finger, but I didn't come to Smokey Bones to order chicken fingers, so I ordered a 1/3 rack of St Louis ribs with sides of cole slaw and baked beans; the standard BBQ combo for me. If I said my server was gruff I'd be cutting her some slack; she was the most mechanically unengaging person I've encounterd in recent memory. She dropped all sorts of stuff in front of me without even a word; napkins, wet-naps, a setup, and a paper bag. I thought maybe she thought I wanted take out, but later discovered that the paper bag is for the bones. Apparently they don't like to handle plates with bones, so you just load up your garbage into a brown lunch bag and then just drop it in the trash. Its all very elegant.
Finally, my order arrived.
Smokey Bones Fort Lauderdale Ribs
They certainly don't score points for presentation. The first thing I thought of was the massive portions I got for $10 at JAX House of Ribs; for $11.99 this seemed like a snack. It was really enough for lunch, but I didn't take anything home either. The ribs were pretty good, a little dry and not fall-off-the-bone tender, but ok. The cole slaw was also pretty good; not too sweet with carrots and red cabbage mixed in. The beans were way too sweet; they just tasted like they were swimming in smoked brown sugar or molassas. They would have been good with less sugar. But I just couldn't eat them.
On a subsequent visit I decided on the fish and chips, just because i was intrigued by their use of "Alaskan Cod". It sounded fresher for some reason. My server asked if I wanted the large or small, even though there is no small on the menu. I'm calorie aware, so I took the small. As it turns out, the small is 1/2 the size for $6.99 instead of $9.49. Apparently its not just half the amount of fish, as the fries were a skimpy portion.
Smokey Bone Fish and Chips
At least they seem consistent in their lack of presentation, and service was equally dull the second time around.
During Football Games on Saturday and Sunday and from 1pm to Close on Mondays they have some pretty good specials, including chicken chili nachos for just $7.95.
As chains go, Smokey Bones is an ok place to grab some lunch. Its the only BBQ I can think of where you can sit in a fairily nice environment and watch the news or a game. So if you feel like some ribs and don't want to sit on a picnic bench with a bunch of rednecks Smokey Bones more than passable.