‘Tis a tale as old as time (or at least two hundred and fifty years, give or take): Man put meat, butter, and oil together, cooked it, and the best food in the world was made! Okay, maybe a bit of an exaggeration; what you need to know is this: I love southern cuisine. Yes, I do realize most of it is likely not the healthiest option out there (heck, even the greens are usually slathered in butter and salt), but southern food is still one of the most beloved edible styles out there. Which is quite a bit of preamble to get to my point: Matthew’s Smokehouse & Deli nailed it down easily and left me excited for the opportunity to grace its halls with my gluttonous presence another time.
Also, I must be forthcoming with you, dear readers, that though our first foray into the culinary world of Orcas Island was quite the side of the finer things in life, Matthew’s Smokehouse elects for a more stripped-down feel. Seating is open, food is ordered at a counter (as are drinks), and the only service you receive from the staff besides ordering and payment is being given your meal. Patrons collect their own silverware, fill their own water glasses, and retrieve their own condiments. This is not a bad way of doing business at all; just know that the service is simple, and serves its straightforward purpose splendidly with only one major caveat: you are given a number stand to place on your table, yet it is open seating. Hence, the servers who bring your food must seek out your seating, with no real way of knowing where on this good green island you have decided to plop yourself and your esteemed colleague(s). Not too bad for those seated inside, but out on the lawn the experience might seem a tad uncoordinated.
But enough of that! Onto the grub!
While chicken may forever claim the top spot in my hierarchy of meat I will admit that, if done right, pork is an extremely close second that usually skims the top spot (that is, until I’ve had more chicken), and the positively overloaded Loaded Fries was perfect to gear myself and my esteemed colleague up for a wonderful meal. Now, French fries, to me, are inherently finger food, yet this was not the case for this dish. Pulled pork, cheese, pickled onions, and jalapenos liberally thrown on top make for a mouth-watering appetizer that must, I repeat, must be eaten with a fork if you value your clean hands.
After our meals were brought out I made sure to test the flavor of the three barbecue sauces made in-house by the chef. While the Carolina Hog (vinegar-based) was not to my taste, I can readily admit it’s design and flavor was appealing to those seeking a Carolina-style sauce. I personally went and lathered my beautiful Pulled Pork Platter (I didn’t even have to make the alliteration up!) with their Camp Site No. 9 (mayonnaise-based) sauce, adding a creamy and sweet layer on top of what was already a great tasting entrée. I will admit that in the grand scheme of things, the pork was a little dry, but that’s, in my opinion, what the sauce is for. A good sauce can make a bad meal serviceable, or make a good meal even better, which is what I believe happened for mine (though my esteemed colleague might disagree with my sentiment, which I am alright with, that’s why I let him write his own review). For the two sides that I received with my entrée I went with Mac & Cheese (a southern staple) and Southern Black Beans (another staple), and though the cheese noodles were good, not particularly memorable, the beans were, unfortunately, a bit disappointing. I’m admittedly not the biggest fan of black beans (refried or baked, baby!), but I do enjoy how they are cooked in the South, and these beans were, in a word, bland. I would never allow them to dampen my spirits, however, and will conclude that my meal was still superb, it’s just could’ve been more. Strive for excellence, Matthew’s Smokehouse! I believe in you!
The overall atmosphere of the restaurant was quite laid-back (I daresay, more my speed than that of my esteemed colleague’s), with simple folk, country, and blues music crooning throughout the grounds. Simple chairs and tables, a back yard setup for a rousing game of Cornhole, and even some alternative seating arrangements such as a couch and coffee table. Thankfully, chill eating establishments are “my jam” (does anyone say that anymore? No? Just me? Okay…) which allowed me to make pleasant conversation with my esteemed colleague over cocktails (still the DD, so only one Jack & Coke for me). No dessert this time; the cooler containing Blackberry Cobbler was, sadly, devoid of its product. Maybe on the second round, whenever that may be.
While not all that fancy, Matthew’s Smokehouse & Deli, I believe, crafts a certain niche out that the Island was unfortunately lacking: that good Southern-Style cuisine. As a representative of all the people who receive a curious case of the munchies for fried and greasy food occasionally, that’s all I ask. Thanks again, Matthew’s Smokehouse! I’ll be back again, I’m sure!