Bones Smokehouse is a popular barbecue restaurant in East Brainerd that recently reopened after a lengthy hiatus due to road construction.
When Bones Smokehouse closed forever ago due to the road construction on East Brainerd Road, I thought they were closing for remodeling. Then one day I drove by and the building was gone. “Well, that’s one way to remodel,” I thought. I later learned that they had decided to close until they could find a different location, but when ages passed and they never resurfaced, I resigned myself to the fact that Bones Smokehouse was gone forever.
Then, something miraculous occurred. Back in August, it popped up in my newsfeed that Bones Smokehouse would be reopening in September. Taking up the space that used to be occupied by the oft-in-the-news Fanatics Sports Bar, Bones reopened to fill the space in East Brainerd’s heart that they’d left a good while back.
As I try to do, I waited a little bit before going…to let the initial crowds die down as well as to let them work out the kinks. We started to go there the weekend before, but they were encouraging people to come for the Tennessee-Alabama game and we were nervous of crowds…so we went to Teriyaki House instead. Finally, the next weekend I met Philip when he got off from work and we headed over.
At 3:00 in the afternoon, there were several tables occupied but the place was not crowded by a long shot. We were seated immediately and our server came over to get our drink orders. I didn’t even have to look at the menu to know that I wanted an order of their fried pickles ($4.95), which I consider to be among the best in Chattanooga (they’re in good company, as my other favorites are at Public House with the pimento cheese). The fried pickles came out quickly, served with tiger sauce, a mayo and horseradish based sauce that’s like Arby’s Horsey sauce but better. I love that they serve pickle chips, not spears (chips are much less dangerous to the roof of your mouth, and they hold together better since you eat them in one bite), and they are hand-breaded with cornmeal. They’re fried to a light crisp and not overly greasy. I’d missed them so.
It took me a while to decide what to order. I was torn between going classic (pulled pork sandwich) or a little off the beaten path (pulled pork tacos or enchiladas). I decided that since Philip had the tacos the first time we went to Bones Smokehouse (scroll down to see that review) that I would get something different. I never order chicken at barbecue joints, so I decided to be a little rebellious and do just that. I settled on the pulled smoked chicken with fried okra and french fries ($9.95), also served with a cornbread muffin (garlic toast was also an option). The sides were decent, though I’m fairly certain that both were just frozen standards. The cornbread muffin was pretty good, albeit sweet, which is not my preference. I was not thrilled with the whipped spread in place of butter (why why why do restaurants do this?). The chicken was nice and smoky, though (I did wish that they used dark meat or at least a combination of white and dark meat, since white meat gets dry so easily). I found myself wishing for pork, because it’s just better suited for smoking since it has more fat and stays more moist. I liked the chicken, though, and thought it would have been delicious as chicken salad. I liked all of the sauces (except for the hot, which I did not attempt); however, my favorite was the tiger sauce that was served with the pickles. It reminded me a lot of Alabama white sauce, which is customarily served with smoked chicken.
Philip decided to go for the special, which was a blackened prime rib sandwich ($8.95). Bones Smokehouse serves smoked prime rib every Friday night, so I suppose they had leftovers that they wanted to use up. It was served on a bun with lettuce and tomato, and our server also brought him a cup of tiger sauce. We were surprised to see a large slice of prime rib on the bun instead of more “shaved” slices, which is what we were expecting. Prime rib, you guys, is a perfect medium for smoking, texture wise (I am sure that some purists would turn their nose up at the idea of putting a prime side of beef in a smoker, but seriously, it works). The amount of fat in the cut makes it super tender and moist, and it was so flavorful and smoky. When I tried it, I was concerned that since it was a pretty thick slice of meat that it would be difficult to bite through, but it was extremely tender and easy to bite into. The tiger sauce was a perfect complement (we always eat our prime rib with a little prepared horseradish).
Pre-tip, our total (for my pulled chicken plate, Philip’s sandwich, fried pickles, and a craft beer) was $32.05. Maybe a little pricier than some people would expect for barbecue, but Bones Smokehouse has lots of items on their menu that you would expect at a barbecue restaurant. They know their way around a smoker, and they also know their way around some fried pickles.
I for one am glad that Bones Smokehouse is back in business!
Bones Smokehouse is now located at 7601 East Brainerd Road, Chattanooga, TN 37421. They are open Monday – Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. You can call Bones Smokehouse at (423) 710-3382. Bones Smokehouse does not have a website, but you can find more information on the Bones Smokehouse Facebook page.
Someone give me a cookie. I have managed to only throw in the towel and go out to eat ONE TIME on a weeknight since school started back last week! That’s an achievement, my friends. I wouldn’t have even done that if it hadn’t been for the fact that I HAD TO go to Hobby Lobby Monday night for teacher things….in this case, ribbon for my word wall. My tooth-achingly adorable word wall. But anyway, I’ll stop talking about teacher things and move on to Bones.
Needless to say, after two weeks of marathon kid-wrangling (I have a fantastic little class this year, by the way) I was way exhausted and last night I was really, really looking forward to having someone else cook for me (though Philip did make pizza for me the other night when I had open house!). I had to go to the School Box for this really fantastically life changing tape called “mauvelous” tape (teachers or anyone who wants to hang paper on a wall, check it out) so East Brainerd was an easy choice for today’s review, especially with the Southern Brewer’s Festival taking place downtown and rendering it a no-Chattavore zone because I canNOT risk getting caught in a crowd. There’s a Chinese place that Philip frequently visits with a friend who lives on that end of town, but it’s cash-only so I suggested that we ease on down the road a bit and visit Bones Smokehouse, since we never have cash and also a friend had mentioned to me that Bones Smokehouse had fantastic fried pickles.
A very friendly host greeted us at the door and immediately took us to a booth. Our server, Hilary, took our drink order and left us to check out the menu for a minute. It didn’t take us long to settle on our orders, but they do have an interesting menu for a barbecue restaurant. The appetizers section includes the standards (wings, queso, Brunswick stew, which is a must-have at a BBQ joint) but also a barbecue chicken pizza, a “smokehouse quesadilla”, and, of course, the fried pickles. They have the usual sandwiches but also some more interesting sandwich options like “The Big Pig” with sausage, pulled pork, and bacon, and an overloaded hot dog. The salad menu is definitely more expansive than most barbecue restaurants, and they offer a “favorites” menu that includes several things you probably wouldn’t expect to find in a barbecue restaurant: chicken pot pie, enchiladas, vegetable lasagna, and open-faced roast beef sandwich. They also offer catering options.
Obviously I had to try the fried pickles. It seems that most of the fried pickles that I encounter these days are spears, which I don’t mind from a flavor standpoint but from a mouth-burning standpoint they definitely hold the heat longer triggering more roof-of-the-mouth injuries. Chips are much safer and in the end you really do probably get more on your plate. These were lightly batter-coated, not to a point that they were “wearing a jacket”-you could still see the pickle. I have had some fried pickles that sent me into sodium overload. These were not among those. Yes, they were salty, because pickles are salty….but they obviously know to be shy with the salt on the coating to compensate. These were great, and the creamy horseradish sauce served on the side was a nice (only slightly spicy and a little bit sweet) departure from the usual ranch dressing dipping sauce. Hooray for fried pickles!
While I was intrigued by some of the menu items, I felt like I needed to order the pork-stuffed potato for comparison, since that’s pretty much my standard order at barbecue places. The stuffed potato comes with your choice of meat, cheese, sour cream, butter, bacon, and chives (though the chives were actually green onions….but I like both on my potatoes so I didn’t mind that). It was a salt-crusted potato cut open with the toppings sort of stuffed inside (stuffed potato, hmmmm) unlike that at many restaurants that lay their potatoes all the way open and drown them in ingredients. There’s no sauce…you add your own at the table from a choice of mild, hot, Carolina sweet, or a mustard-based sauce. I tasted the Carolina and the mustard-based sauce before deciding to stick with the standard thick red mild sauce. I found it to have a nice flavor but not overpowering. I would have liked a little more smoke flavor to my pork, but it had a good texture and taste. The potato was big enough to fill me up but not so huge that I couldn’t finish it. It was on par with the better pork stuffed potatoes I’ve had in town.
Philip decided to order the pork tacos: “tender mojo seasoned pulled pork in a soft flour tortilla with smoked corn salsa, jack & cheddar cheese, red pepper aioli, and shredded lettuce, served with red beans and rice. The menu is actually incorrect-the tortillas were not soft. They were freshly fried to a nice crispy texture, which I found to be an impressive touch. The pork had a great flavor and all of the elements really worked well together. The star of the plate from Philip’s perspective, though, were the red beans and rice, which contained (at least from my observation) onions, peppers, corn, and tomatoes. He was entranced by the smell and had me smell them too, prompting Hilary to check on us to make sure everything was okay, then he kept raving about how great they tasted. He said they “taste like Totino’s pizza, but in a good way”. Total compliment because we love Totino’s pizza (though we don’t eat them any more because sub-prime meat, ick). A very interesting menu item indeed and a hit for us.
We liked the atmosphere Bone’s Smokehouse…it felt like, well, a barbecue restaurant. Everything was wood, the ceilings weren’t too high, it was darkish but not gloomy. Hilary was amazingly friendly and I had to make sure to get her name so I could mention her here. She did a great job. The service was quick but not so much that we were concerned about how the food was being prepared. The prices were good-almost exactly $20 before tip. Since East Brainerd feels like the other side of the world to us, it is unlikely that we will ever become regulars, but we would like to go back sometime-perhaps to try the Friday night smoked prime rib advertised on the marquee-that sounds truly interesting. It’s kind of out of the way (for me, anyway) but it’s been around for a while (since 1999).
Check out Bones Smokehouse!
Note: Due to the road-widening project on East Brainerd Road, Bones Smokehouse closed and the building was torn down in the fall of 2014. Rumors have circulated that they were seeking another location, but this has not happened yet (updated July 2016).
Bones Smokehouse is located at 9012 East Brainerd Road, Chattanooga, TN 37421. They are open Monday-Thursday, 11-9 and Friday-Saturday, 11-10 (closed Sundays). You can call them at 423-894-2663. Check out their website, www.bonessmokehousechattanooga.com. You can like them on Facebook though it appears that page is not active and you will have more luck with this page, which is set up like a personal page (you have to send a friend request).
The reader basically stated (in a very crude way) that he did not respect my reviews because I only write positive reviews. I spent a lot of time in my earlier days as a blogger trying to decide if I wanted to include negative reviews. In the end, I decided that (a) I am a blogger, not a critic; (b) I don’t want to write anything that could potentially damage someone’s business; and (c) not everyone shares my tastes; it up to you guys to decide your feelings about a restaurant. If you are a regular reader of my restaurant posts, you know that I will point out if there is a problem with an experience but as long as my overall experience was positive I’ll still write about it and be nice. The weekends that you don’t see a post (that happens occasionally)? I probably had a bad experience. I’ve chosen quite a few times not to write about a restaurant. You can read more about my decision to be positive here.
“If you don’t agree with me about a restaurant review, feel free to share your opinion on Urbanspoon, Yelp!, or one of the many other travel and restaurant sites on the internet. However, any unnecessarily negative opinions posted in my comments section (I will accept constructive and nicely worded criticism) will be deleted (you can read more about my policy of positive-only reviews here). You are welcome to post your opinions on other posts, but if you attack other readers or myself, your comments will be removed. I reserve the right to decide what does and doesn’t belong on my blog.”
And you as readers reserve the right to disagree with me…and if you don’t like my blog overall, well, you reserve the right not to read it. But I certainly appreciate those of you who do!