If the BBQ at Smokin’ Aces in Douglaston were any more authentic, it would be illegal in New York City. But here it is, in view of the platform at the Douglaston LIRR station.
Executive pit master Brian Tolsano and staff serve up an outstanding American menu, in a smart space with a great old bar, at prices that won’t make you lose your appetite.
The appetizer menu adds to the familiar bar food with a couple of outstanding shrimp selections, Philly cheese steak egg rolls, Mexican street corn and savory interpretations of various chip/dip offerings. Try the buffalo shrimp instead of the usual wings.
Portions of sticky baby back or peppery Memphis style ribs, Texas style brisket, pulled beef, pork or chicken are expertly prepared and very substantial. The lamb or beef burgers are juicy and satisfying. Their double burger – a large beef patty stuffed with smoked brisket and topped with smoked bacon, cheese, crispy onions and BBQ sauce — is hard to stop eating and hard to finish.
There are enough chicken, fish, shrimp and entrée salad selections to satisfy those who aren’t BBQ addicts, and in the true sense of the word hospitality, you can get substitutions. Want a steamed vegetable instead of fries? Not a problem. No smoked bacon in your Cobb salad, you say? Okay.
If you have any room for dessert, the praline caramel cheesecake features a crumbled brownie crust and, no, you can’t have the recipe. Excellent pecan pie, chocolate lava cake and banana pudding round out the finishers.
Smokin’ Aces has been honing the menu by actually listening to regular patrons. The result is one of the best three-cheese mac and cheese offerings to be had; the diet-busting stuffed baked potato will seduce spud seekers. Few things are more satisfying to a foodie than suggesting something to a restaurateur and then actually have them listen. I’m very satisfied with the attention to detail here.
The bar – beautiful focal point for the room – was old when first installed in this neighborhood hideaway years ago, back when Madonna was renting a room nearby and frequented the place. It’s well stocked with wines, draft and bottled beers, all the necessary ingredients for fancy cocktails and a selection of upscale whiskeys. Regulars greet each other while they dine and drink in their appointed spots, as in any good “Cheers” bar.
This may be the secret which has eluded previous owners. Smokin’ Aces is a bit of country hospitality in the city. Just head north, up Douglaston Parkway and when you get to the fork in the road (country enough for you?) take it to the left. You’ll leave Aces – full.
Smokin’ Aces BBQ
41-25 235th Street, Douglaston
pen 4 p.m. to midnight Monday-Thursday; Friday 3 p.m. to midnight; Saturday noon to 1 a.m.; noon to 10 p.m. Sunday
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