There are some things that just shouldn’t be rushed. You can’t hurry love, for example. Beer needs time to properly ferment, and whiskey must be given ample time to distill the right way. Barbecue is another that can be added to that list of things which require patience and skill in equal measure – jump the gun with a flame-grilled piece of meat and the results can be bloody ugly. No such worries at Smokestack, a boozy barbecue joint in San Francisco run with passion and precision by “pitmaster” Dennis Lee.
Lee has been touring the States for the best techniques and recipes, and his kitchen is firing out a blend of Carolina, Texas and Kansas City barbecue with some in-house tweaks and Dennis’s Asian influences to make it uniquely Smokestack. The beer and BBQ restaurant is part of the recently-opened Magnolia Brewery in the city’s Dogpatch neighbourhood, and pairs the industrial waterfront sensibilities of the area’s heritage with the bluesy riffs of Howlin’ Wolf, after whose song Smokestack Lightnin’ the place is named. Design agencies Nothing:Something:NY and Martin Heid Design/Build collaborated on the interior; key features are the exposed pipework, hardwood floors, rustic wood paired with marble on the bar, and a generally weathered, vintage look. The tables and benches were fashioned from a black acacia tree just yards from the bar that had been earmarked for the chop – nice touch.