A couple months ago a new restaurant appeared in Evanston; until the day it opened, we had no idea it was even coming to the area. We finally got to check out Smylie Brothers Brewing Company last night and were pleasantly surprised. There are definitely some areas where they could use improvement, but it’s a new restaurant so we’ll give them the benefit of the doubt for right now.
Before heading over to Smylie Brothers on Saturday, I decided to check out some of the Yelp reviews to see what might be good to try, and what might not be so good. A couple reviews mentioned slow service, cold pulled pork, and risotto that wasn’t risotto, but as for the food, that was about the worst of it. A friend had also told us that BBQ was awesome, but the Poutine was absolutely terrible, so that’s what we were going on. A few of the reviews also mentioned that it was pretty crowded, and without a reservation they had to wait a little while for a table.
Because of the possibility of having to wait, I decided to check Open Table and see if we could get a reservation. Unfortunately, the only reservations available were at 5:45 or 8:45; we were trying to go around 6:30-7. We decided to just give it a shot and see what we could get as a walk-up.
We ended up arriving at the restaurant around 6:20 and, since it was nice outside, decided to put our name down for the patio. The friendly hostess said it would be about 30-minutes for a table on the patio, so we decided to wait it out. We went and grabbed a drink from the bar, and was a little surprised at how unfriendly the bartender seemed. He wasn’t mean or rude by any means, he just didn’t seem like he cared, or wanted to be there. With no reason to sit at the actual bar, we took our drinks to the lounge area near the patio, which is populated with a bunch of comfortable couches and tables. This would actually be a pretty cool area to just hang out and have a few drinks with friends, if you could secure one of the sections/couches.
We didn’t even finish our first drink before we were tracked down and seated. I’d say, all-in-all, we waited maybe just over 20 minutes; not bad. We started looking over the menu and pretty much already knew what we wanted.
We started out with the Pale Ale Pretzel appetizer, which is a pretty good sized pretzel with a gouda & Farmhouse ale fondue sauce and house made beer mustard. The pretzel itself was awesome, very soft, warm, and just enough salt; the sauces were 50/50. I’m not a fan of gouda cheese, so I wasn’t sure if I would like the cheese sauce, but I was actually pleasantly surprised. It tastes like a typical beer cheese and went really well with the pretzel. The mustard, on the other hand, is not something I would ever try again. I like yellow mustard, but not dijon or any other type of mustard, so I kind of knew that I wouldn’t like this. It’s very mustardy and has a little bit of a kick to it… I stuck to the beer cheese.
For our main dish I ordered the BBQ Flight, which consists of Pulled Pork, 1/4 slab of ribs (aka 3 ribs), brisket, a piece of white bread, some pickles, and a side, for which I chose the Spoon Bread, which I’ll get to in a minute. Celeste ordered a Truffled Mushroom pizza and a small side of Mac & Cheese. We were pretty excited for our food at this point. There’s not that much decent BBQ in Evanston, not a huge fan of hecky’s, so if the food was decent, it would keep me from having to drag people down to Big Bricks for ribs.
Our food seemed to come out in decent time, even though the entire wait staff seemed very flustered. There was lots of food coming out and going to the wrong tables, and certain people at tables getting food before the rest of the table. They are still clearly working out some of the kinks, but thankfully we didn’t have any major issues. They did bring out all of our food except the Spoon Bread and had to go track it down after I mentioned it, but it wasn’t a huge deal.
The Truffled Mushroom pizza that Celeste got reminded me a lot of actual Italian pizza (or Spacca Napoli, if you’re in Chicago). So don’t expect a large, super-crispy, thin crust pizza. And this would make sense as they advertise it as “Neapolitan style wood-fired pizzas”. She definitely enjoyed it, but couldn’t finish the entire thing herself and brought half of it home for lunch the next day. Along with her pizza, she got a side of Mac & Cheese, which was actually the most disappointing part of the whole meal. When I think Mac & Cheese at a BBQ place I think extra creamy and extra cheesy; this was neither of those. It’s a baked Mac & Cheese that uses fresh Wisconsin cheddar and a pank0-parmesan crust, but it’s not very creamy, nor very cheesy… it was actually quite bland, which is unfortunate. It wasn’t terrible by any means, but I probably wouldn’t order it again in its current state; we both agreed on this one, which is rare.
The BBQ flight is a solid way to try all of their different BBQ offerings without having to settle for just one. I’m not a fan of brisket, but this brisket was actually better than some of the other briskets I’ve tasted. I still wouldn’t order brisket on its own, but that’s just my personal preference. The pulled pork was actually kind of cold, which is exactly what the Yelp reviews complained about… and come to think about it, all of the meat was kind of on the cold side. It’s not like it was straight out of the fridge, but I don’t think it was warmed up enough (or it was just sitting in the back way too long, waiting to be picked up). Despite the temperature, the pulled pork was very good, especially with their Kansas City-style BBQ sauce; I didn’t care for their spicier BBQ sauce. The ribs were the best part of the BBQ flight, which was exactly what I was hoping for, definitely better than Hecky’s ribs in my opinion. Next time we go back I’ll just order the ribs and forego the rest of the sampler.
For my side I got the Spoon Bread, which is a cornbread mash topped with truffle-honey butter, it was amazing. Celeste thought that the actual cornbread part could have used a bit more flavor, but the topping, with the truffle-honey butter, was delicious. I’d definitely order this again as my side instead of the Mac & Cheese.
So overall the food here was really good, but the service needs to work out the kinks. After we finished our food and were just sitting around drinking and talking, we noticed it took the table of 4 next to us forever to get their food. I don’t think it was the server’s fault, but there must have been some back up in the kitchen that lead to the delay. The atmosphere inside the building and the patio make for a great space to eat, this is just what Evanston needed. That area over there is going to be awesome once they finish rebuilding Taco Diablo and LuLu’s.
We didn’t try any of the different beers they have, but we’ll definitely be back in the future to give The Purple Line beer a try, as the table next to us informed us that it was pretty tasty.