Black smoke, pieces of trees and lots of dead animals smouldering! It sounds like the beginning of a war movie, but it's actually a brand new BBQ restaurant in Belgium. Situated in the old 'De Koninck' brewery, founders Kasper Stuart and Jord Althuizen couldn't have picked a better spot. Black Smoke is the name and it's all about beef, beer and brimstone! Read our review below.
Don’t call it a ‘family grill’ or they’ll smoke you! Hell, they smoke anything there! Whether it’s got hooves, wings or tentacles it ends up in the smoker, left there to smoulder for hours and hours until it melts on your tongue and whilst you are enjoying this most ultimate carnivorous ecstasy, they’ll put craft beer after craft beer under your nose. I’m in heaven, sheer beef bliss!
The Pyromantic Duo
As we said, they didn’t want a family grill, they wanted the true American BBQ experience with a Belgian twist. So they grabbed the proverbial beef by the horns and embarked upon a road trip to the States of no less than 4500 miles, visiting more than 42 of America’s best BBQ joints. Who are ‘they’, you say? Kasper Stuart is a well known rock ‘n’ roll horeca (short for hotel-restaurant and café) guru based in Antwerp who created an insane number of successful bars and restaurants in the city. Amongst them, The Dirty Rabbit, where Dries Botty is behind the stick. Next to Kasper stands the Sultan of Low and Slow, the Csar of Charcoal, the Emperor of Grill, the Grand Vizier of Smoke, the World Champion of BBQ’ing: Jord Althuizen. We thank this man’s pyromantic passion to his girlfriend, who happens to be American and took him to a small mountain village where he experienced his first American BBQ.
A grill too far
After 42 BBQ joints, you’ve probably seen one grill too many, I asked Kasper.
’42? After 10 I was craving for a salad!’ ‘I don’t know where he puts it, but Jord can eat like ten times his own body weight or something while I was running marathons trying to burn some calories!’
What impressed you back there?
‘Lots of things. The food and everything, but maybe more the people there and how passionate they are about bbq’ing!’ ‘You know there are places where people stand cueing the line from 06:00 AM to make sure they have a seat at 11:00!’
‘It was an epic ride. People were very friendly and openhearted, everywhere we went we could take a look at the kitchen, the grills and the smokers. Never a problem. And they’re very enthusiastic, we literally got stuffed with smoked meat.’
So after the trip Kasper and Jord took everything they learned back to Belgium and started to put together his dream team . The team is experienced and know one another very well. In the kitchen – aka the pit – stand the pitmasters: Vadim Vesters and Matthias Jacobs. They have two different styles of cooking: low & slow in the smokers and hot & fast on a custom Argentinian Parrilla grill. And the pit spews forth the loveliest dishes!
We started the day with grilled octopus served with fire roasted bell pepper hummus, Argentinian chimichurri en roasted quinoa. So you see it’s not always meat too and it tasted delicious.
Followed immediately by a bruschetta with Saint-Maurin goat cheese smoked on cherrywood with a micro salad and orange-apple-parsley dressing. A vegetarian dish and very tasty indeed. So it’s definitely not meat only, it’s meat focussed and even the vegetarian dishes are thought through. You know, it’s not just a portobello…
Next was the BBQ Bonanza. A large platter filled with, well…everything! Half a smoked chicken, full slab Memphis dry rub style ribs, a whole beer sausage, a royal serving of pulled pork and brisket. I had never heard of brisket before, in our language it’s called ‘puntborst’, and was very curious to taste it. Apparently it’s a kind of chest muscle of the cow and when standing almost the entire weight of the cow is weighing on this muscle. So it’s a very tough muscle, but with a particular taste. To dominate the brisket into tenderness the pit masters put in the smoker for no less than 18hrs! As I said before: sheer beef bliss!
The dessert was called The Heart Stopper. It’s an eclair filled with bourbon-creme suisse, glazed with dulce de leche and bacon-pecan nuts crumble.
We recommend Black Smoke as a must visit for anybody and rate it a whopping 4 skulls! Info on: www.blacksmoke.be
And with this final comment we leave you to your grill: