Know what’s comforting? A plate of piled-high barbecue — with all the fixins.
Monroe’s Smokehouse Bar-B-Q, with a location on the Westside off Cassat and Edgewood at 4838 Highway Ave., and a mobile food truck (Monroe’s On the Go), recently opened a second brick-and-mortar on bustling Beach Boulevard. The former Woody’s Bar-B-Q has been revamped, and the wood floors, country décor and picnic bench seating is apropos.
After starting with bite-sized corn nuggets <> fried okra, I ordered the pulled pork platter — a large portion of moist and flavorful meat — with two sides, and added a third. Life’s short — why not? The collard greens, with a vinegar base, won over my Southern heart. The creamy mac ‘n’ cheese and sweet potato soufflé were perfect accompaniments: cheesy goodness and a subtly sweet soufflé topped with chopped nuts.
Worth mentioning are those addictive corn nuggets: I recommend starting with a shared basket. They’re stuffed with sweet creamed corn, fried and paired with a slightly spicy homemade ranch dipping sauce.
Monroe’s has finger-licking-good wings (both dry and wet), sandwiches (pulled pork, chopped Carolina pork, brisket, pulled chicken and sliced turkey), salads and platters. The sides are where it’s at; secretly, I’d love to order one of each and stuff myself silly. Talk about tempting: creamy coleslaw, homemade potato salad, collard greens, mashed potatoes, baked beans, black-eyed peas, sweet yellow whole-kernel corn, simmered Southern-style green beans and red coleslaw. The standard fries and side salad are also available.
As a big dipper (no pun intended), I get my kicks by tasting all of the homemade squeezable barbecue sauces: Two sticky thumbs-up for the tangy mustard sauce. There are also sauce flavors of mustard, hot mustard, Monroe sauce, chipotle, Carolina and sweet.
In the back of the restaurant is a bar area, complete with a painting of the original Monroe House, built in 1907. You’ll find bottled beers and a few local draughts — offerings from Bold City and Green Room breweries.
Do yourself a favor: Get a box if you think you’re getting full. You’ll want to save room for dessert. Pastry Chef Anita Adams, formerly of Let Them Eat Cake!, creates confections so good you won’t even consider sharing. The banana pudding cream pie left me with a smile on my face.