Considering that Brian and I work and, of course, live together you wouldn’t think we’d need (or want) any more time with one another. Strangely enough, even after a long day of renovation and shoveling dirt, we still kinda like each other. We’ve recently started a weekly ‘date night’ and it’s been a nice change for the two of us. Since our job renovating houses allows a pretty casual dress code (hello, sweats and ponytails!) its been nice to have a reason to get dressed up (by dressed up, I mean clothes that don’t have paint or dirt on them) and go out together.
Last week we decided to try Valley Smoke BBQ which had just opened in October. BBQ is generally a pretty safe Gluten Free choice and I’d had a GF friend that had visited and said that there were plenty of GF options. Since she survived… and even said it was pretty yummy, we decided to give it a taste.
I wasn’t quite sure how to dress for the evening. Valley Smoke BBQ, who bills themselves as a ‘upscale smokehouse’ is located on the Intercostal Waterway in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL. We needed reservations, they valet your car, but we’d also be eating BBQ… possibly with our fingers…. Upscale Smokehouse, huh? I shouldn’t have been worried though. As with most of the places we’ve discovered in Ponte Vedra Beach, the dress is a comfy mix of jeans, shorts, dresses, polo shirts and sandals. Our construction dress probably wouldn’t have blended so well, but jeans and a cute top were fine. For the BBQed fingers, they provided denim-like napkins that were perfectly suited for upscale BBQ.
I asked for a GF menu before we were seated and the hostess supplied me with the ‘hostess copy.’ So, yes, they have a printed GF menu, but it’s just a paper copy. (+ points for having a GF menu, – points for not having a ‘real’ menu.) The hostess did say if there was something on the regular menu that interested me, I could ask my server and the kitchen could probably make GF alterations. (+ points for adaptability.) Hopefully, they’ll add a real GF menu in the future, or maybe GF designations on the regular menu. It’s not a deal breaker, but it does make me feel more valued and a bit safer, like they’re taking their GF customers seriously. Luckily our waitress was GF too (Bonus Points!) and she was able to offer recommendations and attest to having eaten and survived.
Our waitress suggested the cornbread as a starter, but we noticed that it wasn’t on the GF menu at all, which was strange because most items were on the menu with the designation ‘Gluten Free’ ‘NO’ or the alterations necessary to make it GF (ie, remove croutons). She said she ate the cornbread and my GF friend had even mentioned eating the cornbread, so I asked that she just check in with the kitchen, but we figured that it had just been forgotten on the GF menu. I’m glad we tried it… the cornbread was delish! It was more on the savory side than I normally like but I smothered my slices with all the honey-butter and I thought it was perfect. Brian apparently prefers savory cornbread, so I actually had to share. One order was just the perfect amount for the two of us with enough left over to take home for lunch the next day.
For the entrée we decided to share the Que for Two, which was more than enough for both of us. We ordered the ribs, brisket and pork. For the sides we got Bacon Garlic Green Beans, Whipped Potatoes, and German Potatoes. I was disappointed to see that the kitchen sent out our order with the Garlic Toast on the side even though we were a GF order… It was on the side and not actually touching anything, but still…. (- points).
The food was fabulous! Forgive my picture, it doesn’t do justice to the deliciousness that filled our table… the early evening light, reflecting off the nearby waterway, filtered through the palm leaves was absolutely perfect for the ambiance… but crap for food photography.
After stuffing ourselves silly on BBQ and potatoes Brian rolled his eyes at the suggestion of dessert, but I’d thought ahead and saved a bit of tummy space. We packed up some of the ribs, brisket and German Potatoes for lunch the next day and happily ordered dessert. There were a couple of different GF dessert options, but I’ll admit that I got completely distracted once our waitress mentioned the Apple Crisp with Bourbon Ice Cream and quit listening. The Apple Crisp was piping hot and absolutely delicious. I would highly recommend it!
Valley Smoke will probably become one of our top choices in local restaurants. Like with the other restaurants we’ve discovered along the Intercostal Waterway/Roscoe Blvd, the location is small and the parking insanely limited. Reservations are necessary, but fortunately you can use the Open Table app. (+ points!)
I adore the decor… even the deer-head above the fireplace… which I know would normally have bothered me, but the deer seemed so serene as he stared at me over Brian’s head. Maybe it was the cotton blossoms in a vase beside him… I don’t know, I just liked the deer. The decor is a mix of… rustic industrial? Rich woods and stone mixed with wrought iron and glass. It definitely feels upscale, but I didn’t feel like a heathen eating BBQ in the beautiful surroundings…. a very interesting combination to pull off. Brian and I spent a silly amount of time discussing how they’d gotten the curtains hung from the galvanized pipe rods and how they would ever get them back down. Brian says it’s probably a safety feature to keep people like me from trying to steal the curtains. (I did really like the curtains…. )
Have you tried Valley Smoke BBQ yet? What did you think?