Saturday, June 8, 2013

Kloby's Smokehouse

Photography by Fitz
We have been to Kloby's Smokehouse on two occasions. The first time it was fantastic, and the second time it was less than fantastic. Ever the optimist, I'm going to assume the kitchen was just having an "off-day" that second time. Located in Laurel, Maryland, Kloby's promises "great comfort food with a casual environment at an affordable price". As far as I'm concerned, you just can't beat good BBQ. There's really nothing better. And Kloby's offers just about anything that I could ask for from a BBQ joint. They've got brisket, Carolina style pulled pork, ribs, smoked wings, BBQ chicken, and made-from-scratch sides like collard greens, mac & cheese, and baked beans. All the meats are slow roasted in a wood pit, and they make their own sauces as well (which are very good). The sides, compared to the typical BBQ establishment, are definitely in the B+ range. And if you're not quite hungry enough for a big old platter, the sandwich selection at Kloby's is pretty immense.

The environment at Kloby's is indeed casual. It's got a roadhouse meets sports bar type vibe to it, and the staff is friendly and welcoming. It can feel a little crowded given the space limitations versus the number of tables. But, you know, a crowded restaurant is usually a sign that the food is good! I'm a chili freak, and I like that Kloby's makes several versions of chili. I've had two types of chili there, and both times it was meaty, nicely spiced, and overall tremendous. Tami and I are big fans of the smoked whole chicken wings, which we tried on both of our visits. The first time we went, Tami had a pork belly, lettuce, and tomato sandwich off the special menu - and she thought it was completely fantastic. I had the brisket, which I found to be well above average. And brisket, when it's not done right, can be very dry and bland. My sides - collard greens and BBQ brisket beans - were really good too. Having been so impressed with our selections, we wanted to go back and try the baby back ribs. Unfortunately, our ribs were severely overcooked to the point of being charred. They were meaty, and the flavor was quite nice. But they were just too burnt for our tastes, and not quite as tender as they should have been.

Given the totality of our Kloby's experience, we'd still give the place good marks. From an atmosphere/dining experience point of view, it's hard to find much fault. And I don't think I've ever seen a better craft beer selection at a casual restaurant. The beer list is constantly changing, but it always features lots of high quality selections from the Baltimore/D.C./Virginia region. There are so many tremendous beers being produced in the Mid-Atlantic right now, and I think it's cool that Kloby's is showcasing them.

On to the FABS scale: 

Food- I feel bad docking points for the overcooked ribs, but that is kind of a dealbreaker.

Atmosphere- I wish the place were a little less cramped, but that's a minor complaint. 22/25

Beer- This place is a beer lover's dream. 25/25

Service- The only deduction here is that we've noticed that Kloby's may be a little understaffed. The servers really hustle, and the food comes out fast. But the servers are so overworked that we sometimes got "forgotten" after our food came. And a man should never have to wait ten minutes for a beer. 20/25

Overall: 86 (out of 100) 

I would like to go back again at some point and give the ribs another shot. It would please me to revise that food score. The chili and wings are so good....

And a word of advice: if you see the Carolina pig dip on the special menu, do note that it's an appetizer. If you order this item as your meal, as my dad did, you are bound to be disappointed. Who looks over a menu full of delectable slow roasted meats and decides to order a dip?