Smoking Sloe's is a small storefront on Fort Salonga Road, not too far from the Northport VA Golf Course. The long counter implies serve-yourself or take-out only, but there are more than a half dozen tables scattered around the room, each with unusual Caribbean-themed chairs. Servers will take your order at the table and bring the food to you when it's ready. Smoking Sloe's also offers delivery for a $2 charge.
The core barbecue menu features babyback ribs and beef ribs, pulled pork, brisket and barbecue chicken. Flexibility is paramount: chicken is available by the quarter (leg or breast), half or whole bird; ribs are available as half or full racks; brisket is available sliced or chopped; dinners are available with cole slaw and cornbread only or with one or two sides.
For a joint as compact as they are, Smoking Sloe's boasts a pretty diverse menu beyond barbecue. Appetizers include "bottle caps" (fried jalapeno slices), wings, mozzarella sticks, calamari, BBQ or fried shrimp, gumbo and two kinds of chili. Sandwiches include the usual BBQ suspects plus burgers and chicken fried steak.
I visited Smoking Sloe's on a Saturday afternoon with two other barbecue enthusiasts. On the way in, we saw a man sitting outside, enjoying a plate of beef ribs that looked very good. In retrospect, we probably should have ordered these.
We skipped appetizers to focus on platters of ribs, pulled pork and brisket.
We chose the babyback ribs, sans sauce, and these arrived as a heavily seasoned half rack with a crusty, crunchy exterior. Inside, the meat was also noticeably well seasoned and noticeably well done. The petite cut was very lean, with hardly any fat, but the downside of that attribute was somewhat dry meat. The sauces (possibly the best assortment on Long Island) helped.
Pulled pork was also heavily seasoned and heavily mashed, with little if any bark. Unlike the ribs, the meat was moist, and it had an interesting, unusual flavor. I'm still trying to figure it out.
Sitting alone on a giant white plate, the brisket looked very pale and unappetizing, with a ghastly surface appearance and dark edges that weren't crisp. As I cut into the meat I noticed a good amount of fat in the slice, and the texture of the meat itself was much more tender than I expected. It cut easily with a fork and had a good amount of moisture. Its flavor was the counterpoint to the other meats: the smokiest of the three offerings but the least seasoned, allowing the natural beef taste to stand out.
Unlike most places, which offer a sweet and a hot or a regular and a hot, only to have them taste more or less the same, Smoking Sloe's offers three different sauces, each one distinct: the original (thin, dark, mildly sweet); the sweet (thin, red, sweet and fruity) and the hot (thick, chunky, dark, fruity, hot). All three were excellent.
Sides weren't as much of a standout as the sauces, but they were more successful than the meats. Cole slaw was a supermarket style with a twist, sporting raisins and a thin, tangy condiment. Beans featured three varieties with a little bite to them, in a thick sauce. Finely chopped collards were tart and crunchy mini tree trunks.
The bottom line: Smoking Sloe's does some things well, other things not so well. The meats tasted better than they looked, the sides were pretty good, the sauces were excellent and the service was very friendly. I need to return for a sampling of that beef rib that looked so good in the parking lot, but for now if I had to place Smoking Sloe's in the grand scheme of Long Island BBQ, I'd pencil them in somewhere around the middle of the pack.
Times of Northport story on Smoking Sloe's