Where There's Smoke, There's a New Summer Menu

Chef Tim Byres is still smoking at Smoke, the much-lauded paean to low and slow Southern cooking that opened last fall at the Belmont Hotel, but he's now salting, curing and pickling too.

"I'm trying to take the charcuterie angle," Byres says of the restaurant's new summer menu, which includes pork jowl bacon and a remarkable spiced rabbit smoked sausage he previewed at 48 Nights earlier this month.

The menu's format has changed along with the dishes: Rather than serve meats and sides family-style, Smoke puts its barbecue on individual plates. The new menu's organized in five sections -- small plates, charcuterie, fish, meat and sweet -- with all the offerings sized for one.

"We're developing a menu image," Byres explains. "People were like, 'Are you a barbecue restaurant?' 'Are you this?' 'Are you that?' Who knows? Now we've incorporated the barbecue into the menu."

The traditional template has given Byres space to showcase some innovative dishes, including a bricked Cornish game hen dressed with a vinaigrette that fuses all the flavors of chicken salad.

"We've got all the ingredients, the diced cucumbers, red pepper, fermented grape juice and walnut oil," Byres says. "The walnut oil brings it home."

Byres calls the hen, served with blistered grapes, "a fun dish." A similarly giddy streak's evident in the soft shell crab and squash blossom tacos, strewn with elotes-style grilled corn, and the tamarind barbecue salmon, finished with a watermelon reduction.

"The big thing we're trying to do is make it lighter," Byres says of the transition. "There's still brisket on the menu, we're still roasting whole hogs, but the focus for me right now is preservation." New Smoke Dinner Menu

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