Smokin’ Zees BBQ, the food truck, has ditched its wheels and gone full brick-and-mortar.
The stationary home for the restaurant opened Thursday (Oct. 5) in the former home of Green Coconut Tree in Lakewood.
The menu and dining room were just as promised by chef/owner Joseph Erck, who opened the restaurant with business partners Peter Landstad and Sara Devine.
The menu is short and sweet: Smoked pulled pork or chicken, ribs and brisket. A handful of sides. Bottled beverages.
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Here’s a first-bite report. It’s this paper’s policy to avoid criticism of food and service in a restaurant’s first month.
The background: Erck and crew started out serving at farmers markets and in front of businesses, such as Narrows Brewing and 7 Seas Brewing, plus Joint Base Lewis-McChord. They operated for a short time out of a gas station in Gig Harbor, but that was just a temporary location. They closed it in June.
The dining room: Find 8 booths and tables with seating for two to four at each. It’s small, tidy and comfortable. Order at the counter, find your own seat.
Plating: When dining in, the meals are served on metal sheet pans with paper liners (be careful cutting the meat, the paper rips). Napkins? Who needs stinkin’ napkins. Napkins here are a roll of paper towels.
The menu: Combo plates with one ($12), two ($14) or three ($16) kinds of meat. Served with two sides and a drink. Rib plates are $15 for a half or $25 for a full rack, also with two sides and a drink. Sandwiches also come with a side and a choice of sausage ($7.95), pulled pork or chicken ($9.95) or brisket ($12.95). Meat also is sold by the half or full pound ($8 to $20).
The sides: Coleslaw, potato salad, barbecue beans, cornbread, fries, mac and cheese. Sides come with plates or sandwiches but also can be ordered a la carte, $2.25 for individual-sized portions or up to $12 for family sizes.
The smoker: Pellet smoker fed with apple, peach and cherry (or whatever he can get). He also has a portable smoker rig, but that one is for his mobile business.
Smoking style: Hybrid style with techniques borrowed from Texas and Carolina-style barbecue. The pork butt is definitely Carolina ‘cue. Erck said his brisket leans Texan.
Get the: Half slab of ribs ($15). Rubbed and then smoked and always served sauce free.
The three-meat plate came with generous portions, including three generous slices of smoked brisket and a pile each of pulled pork and pulled chicken. Barbecue beans leaned toward the savory side with a tomato base. Mac and cheese tasted creamy, with a smoky bite. Coleslaw came with a mayo-based dressing. The chili was made with bacon, beans and beef. Cornbread was more savory than sweet.
Sauces: Two available now. A robust sauce that’s mildly sweet or a puckery vinegar-based sauce with considerably more heat. More sauces will be available soon.
The wheels: They’ll still have their mobile trailer and can cater events. However, as the cold weather settles in, they’ll take a break from cooking outdoors.
Smokin’ Zee’s BBQ
Where: 8813 Edgewater Drive SW, Lakewood; 253-432-4374; facebook.com/smokinzeesbbq.
Hours: Serving lunch and dinner Tuesdays-Sundays.