Smoke on the Water
Address: 1 Augusta St, Suite 202, Greenville, SC 29601
Web site: www.saucytavern.com
Hours of operation: Sunday – Thursday, 11:30 -9:00pm; Friday-Saturday, 11:30-10:00pm
One of our new judges who lives in Greenville took me to this restaurant and while it was obviously an upscale eatery where good things could happen, I didn’t expect anything much to come from the “smoker” to rate it a place in the top 100 barbeque restaurants. I was wrong.
The website name tells how it looks, “Saucy Tavern.” It is a nice restaurant with dark wood and an upscale tavern ambiance. It sits just beyond the falls of the Reedy River in the newly re-gentrified north-west section of downtown Greenville, where it is cheek by jowl with other trendy eateries.
The menu is large and features everything from salads and burgers (including specialty burgers such as blue-cheese and pimento cheese burgers) to chops, steaks, crab cakes, a large selection of seafood, including grilled, and many more delights which also include sides of onion rings, “stuffing,” fresh coleslaw, mac and cheese and lots more. The plates they bring all of these offerings on are actually oval dishes and they come to your table quite full – I had to get a doggy bag to take home.
The best part, however, is that I ordered the combo plate from the “smoker” section and found that they serve very good pulled pork, probably the best smoked beef brisket in the upstate and ribs with a dry rub that would fill the bill on anybody’s wish list. As I say, I was pleasantly surprised.
Plus, the johnnie-on-the-spot waitress then brought around two carriers with four sauces and asked if we wanted an explanation. We did. Remember, they call themselves the “saucy tavern” on their web site and they are proud of their four sauces. The only problem is that only one of them, the mustard sauce, is a top-flight winner. The vinegar and pepper, while hot enough and vinegary enough, had too much sugar. They also referred to is as “Eastern North Carolina style,” as if vinegar and pepper is not the leading South Carolina style. But no matter, they are working at it and that is to be admired. Their other two sauces were both thick tomato style and quite similar, with one being a bit spicier than the other.
I really should not make too much over these sauces, however, because the barbeque is actually better without any sauce at all, as a good, well smoked plate of barbeque is supposed to be. I did try all four sauces (twice) on a bit of meat and found that their best sauce, the mustard sauce, did complement the meat very well but for my money I’d go without the sauce. As it should, the barbeque is good enough to stand on its own.
The ribs were very good. They were well smoked and they were another pleasant surprise. I took some home in the doggy bag to the wife and she, a careful critic, put her stamp of approval on them too.
Smoke on the Water is simply a great place. Fine enough to take an important client, good enough to please the spouse on a night out on the town and it has a large menu that will have something you want. But you had best want the barbeque. You won’t be disappointed.