Dickey's Barbecue Pit, a franchise operator out of Texas, closed at the Shoreline Boulevard space last fall. It reopened in February as Alice's Smokehouse, an upgraded version of its predecessor. Owners Alice Kao and husband Robert Edwards are both software engineers who hail from the aerospace industry. Edwards is still engaged in aerospace while Kao runs the restaurant.
Edwards' family roots are in Kentucky. He tapped into old family recipes for both cooking technique and concocting sauces. Edwards said he created a classic Memphis-style sauce with tomato paste, vinegar and mustard. Memphis-style sauces are thinner than Texas sauces and have a sweet-sour tang.
He said the sauce was a little too thin for local tastes, so he thickened it while retaining the classic Memphis-style flavor. He's working on a new, spicier sauce that incorporates habanero chili peppers — a decidedly West Coast addition.
The owners smoke their meats with hickory, a medium-strength smoking wood that is great for pork and stands up to beef. Smoking meat is an art. Home chefs often over-smoke, but barbecue is supposed to be about the meat, not the smoke. Alice's has mastered the art. The meats had an initial tease of smoke on the palate, then the complex meat flavors took center stage.
The menu offered what I expected: ribs, brisket, sausage links and poultry. Unexpected were the delicious Smoker Bowls — four choices of meat, poultry or fish over a base of rice or mac and cheese, and choice of vegetable ($9.95 to $13.95.) I chose pulled pork with rice and fried cauliflower ($9.95.) It was plenty to eat and I could add as much sauce as I wanted. The pork was tender and moist with that hint of smokiness — and who knew quick-fried cauliflower could be so good?
Speaking of sides, the mac and cheese was just what I had hoped: hot and stringy with a strong taste of real cheese. The barbecue beans were thick with the sweetness of brown sugar or molasses. The coleslaw was crisp and not overburdened with mayonnaise. Other sides include mashed potatoes, green beans, and smoked corn. All sides are available in 5-ounce, pint, quart and party tray sizes ($3 to $36.)
The hot link sandwich ($9.95) used a soft bun piled high with sausage, onions and all the accoutrements. The side of fried onions ($2) made for a tempting, though not particularly health-conscious, meal.
Eat-in or takeout, meats were sold by the quarter, half and full pound ($4.50 to $20.) The brisket and pulled pork were juicy, savory, tender and not mushy. The chicken was fine and the turkey was surprisingly good — moist and delicate with just the right balance of smokiness.
The pork ribs were fall-off-the-bone tender, with a salty, smoky bark on the outside and just enough fat to imbue flavor that melded nicely with the smoke. Ribs are available as a quarter, half or full rack (three, six or 12 ribs, respectively, $7.95 to $28.95).
If possible, leave room for the homemade sweet potato pie ($3.50 slice, $19 whole pie). Think of it as off-season pumpkin pie: same spices, creamier texture.
Alice's Smokehouse isn't competing with the great barbecue meccas in Austin, Memphis and Kansas City, but it's not trying to. Alice's has its own version of delicious smoky, savory, saucy barbecue, and you won't have to wait in line for three hours.
570 N. Shoreline Blvd., Suite F, Mountain View
Hours: Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Credit cards: yes
Alcohol: beer and wine
Happy hour: Monday-Saturday, 4-6 p.m.
Outdoor dining: yes (two tables)
Noise level: moderate
Bathroom cleanliness: very good
This story contains 675 words.
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