Sea Smoke BBQ, Scarborough
Posted on October 5, 2011
by Joe Ricchio
Few things help you forget your troubles like a large plate of barbecue in the middle of the day.
After a morning spent dealing with the failure of both my email account and recently purchased hard drive, and getting a nail removed from my rear driver’s side tire at the dealership, I find myself in the Scarborough area with a dire need to medicate with food.
I’ve been known to say that before I die I’d like to go on a barbecue pilgrimage, eating my way through the Carolinas, Texas, Tennessee, Missouri, and anyplace else where smoked meat is worshipped with religious zeal. In 2010 I performed a version of this quest in Maine, visiting ten different spots throughout the state in an effort to answer the question of whether or not there is any good barbecue here. This achieved varying results and I continue my quest any time a new spot opens up in an effort to satisfy my insatiable lust for great pork ribs.
Located in a strip mall, the decor inside Sea Smoke passes the first test: it is completely no-frills and down to business. I am always weary of places with an interior that screams, “our design team has really gone out of their way to recreate a Texas roadhouse and we would really like for your children to really enjoy their time spent here.”
Employing a measure of self-control, I opt for only a half rack of pork ribs, which is served alongside my choice of meat and two sides from a list of the usual suspects. The smoked sausage seems to be a reasonable choice, and I order macaroni and cheese, coleslaw, and an additional order of barbecue beans for good measure. After all, with my email and hard drive on the fritz, it’s not like I’m going to be doing anything but taking a nap shortly after my meal anyway.
While pounding a Long Trail Brewing Double Bag Ale on an empty stomach and trying not to pass out from hunger before my food arrives, I begin to amuse myself by snapping a few pictures of an elderly man seated at the table across from me. He seems unfazed, which hinders my enjoyment of this activity, so instead I investigate the four unlabeled sauces in the table caddy. Because I’m an idiot, I don’t immediately make the connection that maybe the red bottle is filled with ketchup, and the yellow with mustard; I taste each just to make sure. The third bottle is spicy vinegar, and the last is the house barbecue sauce, which is actually very smoky, earthy, and mellow, lacking the cloying sweetness found in many sauces I’ve tasted.
Upon receiving my food I begin to work in stages, tasting each item by itself before doctoring with any condiment. The smoked sausage is juicy and just sweet enough with a very pleasing snap to it. Combined with the sauce, which has a sort of rustic Mexican characteristic to it, it is gone in very little time.
As with any mac and cheese worth its salt, Sea Smoke’s version is rich, gooey, and creamy. After a few bites, I add a squeeze of the spicy vinegar, giving the dish a little bit of acid to cut through the fat. This proves to be a wise decision, prompting me to give it a few more squirts for good measure.
The corn muffin, the top of which proves to be a perfect conduit for the sauce, contains a superlative ratio of moist to crumbly. The refreshing coleslaw is bright, clean-tasting, and crunchy, benefiting from not being drowned in mayonnaise. The smoky, meaty beans seem a bit soupy initially, but as I begin eating them it turns out that this just makes them more flavorful.
The moment of truth, of course, comes when I tear into the ribs. They are pink and meaty, with a boldly seasoned dry rub. Though not quite falling-off-the-bone tender, this doesn’t prevent me from sucking every bone clean after plowing through about a quarter of a bottle of the accompanying sauce. My excessive use of sauce in no way implies that the food is badly in need by any stretch of the imaginationit’s just that I’m an addict.
In my opinion, barbecue is the closest thing that Americans have to a “national cuisine.” Chances are that every man, woman, and child that you will encounter will have a strong opinion on how it’s done best. This being said, I urge you to sample Sea Smoke and find out if this particular style suits you.
I finish every last bite on my plate, and, quickly after arriving home, I practice a tradition that Americans could learn a thing or two about from many other countriesthe afternoon siesta.
183 US Rte 1 Suite D | Scarborough | 207.730.5644