I honestly can not remember the last time the impending closure of a restaurant caused so many ripples of sadness and surprise across the country. I received an informal and then a formal message from The Smoke Co. yesterday announcing that May 12th would be last day they would be serving customers. Being at the beginning of a really hectic work day, I instantly dismissed the message with a brusque response of disbelief. Could you blame me? Especially considering this was a bolt of out of the blue for a place that I thought was popular to the point of being invincible. But, it turned out, it was true.
The Smoke Co. was recently recognized on two national platforms for its quality and uniqueness as a restaurant. Some of the biggest names in the industry have dined here on a recommendation, and have spoken highly of it. In fact, at a recently held EazyDiner event at The Smoke Co., Vir Sanghvi, Chief Editor and Lead Critic, EazyDiner said that he was really impressed that someone would take up a concept like that of smoked meats and execute it the way Gautam Krishnankutty, Padmakumar and Chef Altaf Patel have, and, that he is glad they did! Social media has been abuzz with praises by and large, ever since they opened doors in 2017.
Tuna Poke Bowl
When you speak to Gautam (the ‘mad scientist’ as PK calls him), who is also behind Bangalore’s erstwhile iconic Café Thulp, you know of the passion that has gone into this project.
The Naga Beef
From its humble beginnings with a hastily crafted double barrel smoker for a Naga festival at Café Thulp many years ago, the small seed of an idea grew into The Smoke Co. as we see it today.
Smoked Meat Platter
The concept of smoked meats sounds great but is definitely not an easy one to execute, and that too consistently. The creation of a customized smoker with a 300kg capacity, that forms the heart of the kitchen, ensures that the Smoked Bone Marrow is spot on each and every time. Dining there, just last evening, I saw a number of those platters go across the restaurant and a lot of sourdough bread being used to mop up all the goodness.
Pork and Apple Sausages
Pulled Pork and Beef Platter
From this smoker also comes beauties like the Maryland Pit Beef, The Pork and Beef Kielbasa sausages, the 12-hour Smoked Pulled Shoulder of Pork and Pulled Beef too!
Southern Fried Chicken
This is Southern American BBQ fare and a European style Charcuterie at its best.
And not to make the restaurant a ‘meat lovers paradise’ as the common descriptor can go, the Hot Smoked Baba Ghanoush, the Panzanella, the Corn Muffin, The Mac n Cheese, that gorgeous Buttermilk Biscuit and Creamy Spinach – all of this gave the restaurant its edge.
But now, all we have is until May 12th to take it all in.
The speculation is on as to why The Smoke Co. is letting the wood in the smoker go cold soon. Was it the lack of patronage? Was the concept ahead of its time? Did being meat-heavy perhaps work against it? Was the profile of the dishes not something that could be appreciated by the masses? So many possible reasons and honestly this piece will not answer any of them. Suffice to say that it has not been easy for the team to make this decision on their labour of love.
There was a collective sigh of sadness yesterday when the news went viral. Shock, disbelief, offers to bring in angel investors if that was needed, hopes on the place shifting and not really closing down… social media saw it all. Also, there were nasty comments and jibes… clear signs that no matter what, you can not please em’ all.
But when I headed there for dinner yesterday, the staff, now familiar, served us with not a hint of the sadness that they were feeling. They spoke fondly of their time here, and of the management who did not let them suffer through the vagaries of a business that was not going the way it was envisioned. They were amazed, that as they were headed out looking for jobs, their time at The Smoke Co., held them in good stead. Many in the industry know the quality training that the staff of Smoke have received and recognise them as good hires.
Yesterday spurred a flurry of meal plans and dates at The Smoke Co. I know of people who have changed or have made their plans to come into Bangalore before May 12th to experience the place. I have always maintained that The Smoke Co. is a place I would say is worth travelling to Bangalore for – and now you know how much time you have to do that.
It is sad to see you go but we hope that it is onwards and upwards for Team Smoke Co. in all that you do going forward.
Ruth Dsouza Prabhu has been a media professional for 18 years now, across multiple platforms. As a passionate F&B writer, she has interacted personally with internationally renowned names such as Marco Pierre White, Janice Wong, Chef Vivek Singh, Chef Vikas Khanna, Madhur Jaffrey, the late Tarla Dalal and many others for her stories. A highlight has been personal interviews with all three of the celebrity judges on Masterchef Australia. She is on several jury panels of food and beverage awards, is sought after for opinions in the field by publications and has her work published in well-known names such as The Hindu, Firstpost, HuffPost India, Condé Nast Traveller, NatGeo Traveller among many others.