The Iowa Year

From Upstate New York to Central Iowa

I go to restaurants: Woody’s Smoke Shack

with one comment

This one was a surprise, and in more ways than one.  First off, I wasn’t planning on going to a restaurant today, not when there was a box of spaghetti calling my name.  But on the way home from work, we passed Woody’s Smoke Shack, and my friend decided then and there that he needed some barbeque.

For all none of my readers, let me explain: we drive past Woody’s twice every workday, and I honestly have never been tempted to stop there.  Sure, I might have added it when my weekly restaurant list started to grow thin, but to be honest, I’m not a fan of barbeque.

Let’s start with the lows.  The decor was a bit kitschy, with the “Route 66/Americana” theme very prominent.  The utensils are plastic.  Water comes out of a big Gatorade jug.  The chalkboard menu is a bit jumbled.  The POS system is a cash register out of the 1980s.

But seven hells, it’s all worth it.  I ordered the quarter-rack of baby back ribs with mac & cheese and hot apples as my sides; my friend ordered the pulled pork and a beef brisket.  Total cost was less than $25 for the two of us.  And best of all, the orders each came with a side of complimentary cornbread.  This cornbread was perfectly sweet; it was soft and fluffy, almost like a white cake in texture.  I ate four pieces of it, and my friend had two.  The cornbread alone makes a visit worth the trip.

My friend and I were alone in the dining area (a very small one at that, with only a handful of tables), so our orders were prepared quickly.  Right away, I was impressed by the colour and the smell of the ribs; Woody’s uses a dry rub, but the meat stays moist enough that it could be mistaken as a sauce.  The meat pulled easily off the bone, revealing a deep smoke ring and a beautiful pink inside.  The flavours penetrated all the way through, with every fleck of meat containing a sweet, spicy warmth.  I was even able to wrest away a sample of the beef brisket; it was wonderfully tender, with the same flavours and juciness that I enjoyed about my ribs.

The food wasn’t entirely perfect, though.  The brisket came on what was clearly a store-bought hamburger bun.  The mac & cheese, while passable elsewhere, came off as mediocre in comparison to the entree.  The apples were too soft, and the cinnamon was too weak to impart any flavour to the dish.  Again, the quality of the meats only served to make the sides seem worse by comparison.

All in all, though, Woody’s Smoke Shack was a detour I enjoyed taking.  If I wasn’t a fan of barbeque before, Woody’s has certainly given me food for thought.  Perhaps this barbeque denier might even find himself eating there again.

Total cost: $25.ooish.  I dunno, I didn’t pay for it.

Woody's Smoke Shack on Urbanspoon


Written by oswegowriter

14/01/2013 at 10:45 PM

One Response

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  1. Hi Matthew,

    Your first posts just appeared on Urbanspoon! Check it out:

    I encourage you to claim your blog, which allows you to add a picture and change some settings. The blog photo shows up next to your posts wherever they appear on Urbanspoon. Here’s how to claim:

    – Make sure you’re logged into Urbanspoon

    – Go to your blog page on our site:

    – Click “Claim your blog” in the left sidebar

    After you submit it, we may contact you to verify your claim. Check your spam email folder if your claim hasn’t gone through in a day or two. You’ll also find some interesting badges and widgets on your Urbanspoon blog page – look in the right sidebar.

    If you have any questions, please contact me via email.




    16/01/2013 at 3:47 AM

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