Noble Smokehouse and the sweet smell of success
We went hog wild on our recent visit to Noble Smokehouse. We were there to review the place so we felt obligated to try as many plates as we could.
Since Noble opened next door to Mystic’s Amtrak train depot a year ago, we have gotten takeout several times and have never been disappointed. But this was our first time venturing in for a meal at the tiny roadside place, and we weren’t quite sure what to expect.
It was all very good. As soon as we entered, we were intoxicated by the rich, sweet smell of smoke from the cookers out back where the magic happens. Noble owner Joshua Feldman greeted us, handed us menus, and told us to pick a seat and come up to the counter when we were ready to order. It was a rainy Saturday afternoon, and our plan was to have a late lunch that doubled as our dinner.
We settled in, studied our menus, and settled on a smorgasbord. When we ordered, Feldman offered tips on which of the eight different house-made barbecue sauces paired best with the proteins we were getting.
The smoked chicken wings ($9 for five) were a standout choice. They are a new item on the menu, and they arrived piping hot, plump, moist, flavorful, and sticky good. Wings are pricey these days, and they can be hard to find, but whatever it is that Noble chef Christopher Lusk does on the smoker with his wings makes the steep cost-per-wing worth every cent.
The Smokehouse Nachos ($12) were also well received. A heaping concoction of warm chipotle lime corn tortilla chips, roasted corn, three cheese sauce, sour cream, salsa, chipotle crema, and slow roasted chicken, well, the dish was a feast. You can opt for pulled pork ($13) or chopped brisket ($18) instead of the chicken, but we wouldn’t change a thing.
The Pork Belly Burnt Ends ($15) were sinfully good. Every bite was sticky and smokey and sweet in a very fulfilling way.
Noble has small plates, sandwiches, barbecue platters, and sides. You get one side with a sandwich and two with a platter, or you can just order them a la carte — $4 for a small portion or $7 for the large. Choices include macaroni and cheese with or without brisket, collard greens, cowboy beans, southern slaw, macaroni salad, a baked sweet potato, or a side salad. Everyone has personal preferences and every side is good, but the top contenders at our table were the slaw, beans and brisket mac and cheese.
In addition to the two sides with the platters, you also get two sauces and a big hunk of warm, moist, dense, delicious jalapeno cheddar cornbread. It may be the best cornbread anywhere. And then there are those sauces — eight of them to choose from. Most popular are the Kansas City and Memphis, but they recommend the South Carolina (a honey mustard base with ketchup and brown sugar) and the Alabama White (mayonnaise and vinegar base with Worcestershire) for chicken. They are all advertised as gluten-free.
The show-stopper at Noble may be the brisket platter, a whopping 16 ounces of slow-smoked, thin-sliced, piled-high beef served with all the sides for $30. The succulent meat is tender inside with a crunchy fat exterior and a rich, smokey flavor. Then there are the baby back ribs — $18 for a half rack or $34 for the full. They are prepared with a rub, basted with the Memphis sauce, and cooked to perfection so the meat easily falls off the bones when ready to eat.
Noble also offers half-roasted chicken or pulled pork platters, each $16, or a combination plate with two proteins, two sides, two sauces and the cornbread, for $28.
In-house the platters are all served on metal trays covered with kraft paper and the sides and small plates in cardboard tubs and containers. Our food arrived hot, and all the portions were hearty. If we found anything to complain about — and really, it’s a miniscule complaint — it’s that our starters and entrees were served almost simultaneously. We guessed that’s because most of their business is takeout.
Noble is a great addition to the downtown Mystic food scene. It’s easy to find next door to the train station or, better yet, roll your window down and sniff for that that sweet, languid aroma of slow-cooking barbecue.
4 Roosevelt Ave., Mystic
Cuisine: Their motto sums it up: "We live, breathe and smoke barbecue"
Service: Friendly, fast and efficient
Hours: Noon to 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, noon to 7 p.m. on Thursday and Sunday, 4 to 7 p.m. on Wednesday, and closed Monday and Tuesday.
Atmosphere: There are six tables inside and several more outside, but much of their trade is takeout, with customers regularly stopping in for barbecue to go.
Credit cards: Accepted
Outdoor dining: Yes
Handicapped access: Yes