By Jen Merrill; Photography by Jadrian Klinger
Josh White, 37, who owns Smoke with his wife Jenna, does not consider patience to be one of his best qualities. He’s a mover and shaker, someone who likes to get things done quickly and efficiently. Maybe that explains why the Whites wasted no time opening their southern-style barbecue joint only a year after returning to Harrisburg.
They’re not messing around.
But it doesn’t explain his love – intense, passionate, all-consuming love – for the art of smoking and curing meats. It’s not a method of cooking for those who seek immediate satisfaction. Smoking, when really done right, takes days. Jenna and Josh smoke their briskets for 16 hours. The pork gets 14 hours. One strip of bacon – smoked and cured – takes eight days to make.
“We let it cool, slice it, fry it, and it’s just heaven. Josh’s bacon is seriously the best,” gushes Jenna, 28.
It’s this dedication to the trade that makes Smoke so unique.
“We wanted to open up a restaurant that was based on the southern barbecue type of cuisine, but do it cooler,” explains Josh. “We thought, ‘Let’s go home to Harrisburg where we are surrounded by farms and can get the freshest most local organic produce and proteins and meats and everything we could possibly need.’”
The Whites established relationships with as many local sources as they possibly could. Their bread comes from Terranetti’s Italian Bakery in Mechanicsburg. The Fountainhead Craft Sodas they stock are made with 100 percent cane sugar and travel a short distance from Philadelphia. Lancaster Farm Fresh Co-Op – a collection of 75 farmers throughout Lancaster county –provides a range of seasonally available organic fruits, vegetables and dairy products.
Smoke’s sole source for meats is Breakaway Farms in Mount Joy. Jenna and Josh fell in love with Breakaway as soon as they stepped foot on the grounds.
“They consider themselves ‘beyond organic.’ The animals just go out and do what they’re supposed to do. They’re not told what to do or when to do it,” says Josh. “And it conveys itself well in the product. Their beef and their pork is the best I’ve had anywhere in this country.”
But just because Jenna and Josh are so passionate about meat doesn’t mean that all you non-carnivores need to dismiss Smoke as a lunch or dinner option. They have a wonderful selection for vegetarians and vegans, with options such as a succulent veggie burger or smoked tofu, which gets the same seasoning – and TLC – as the smoked meats that make up the rest of the menu.
“Our veggie burgers are vegan and gluten-free,” says Jenna. “We wanted to make sure that everyone could eat here and that we weren’t being exclusive to any group.”
For that reason, groups of all shapes and sizes will feel perfectly at home at Smoke. With its rustic décor – including a selection of vintage bottles from Jenna’s grandfather’s collection – simplistic design and BYOB option, Smoke welcomes you in with open arms and sends you home with your belt at least one notch looser.
“There’s something so nice about sharing in a celebration,” says Jenna with a smile. “People dine out because usually there’s a good reason to come together. Whether it’s a birthday or an anniversary or even if there’s a sad time in their life, they’re coming together to be together, and there’s something so rewarding about sharing that experience with them.”
Smoke is open Tuesday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. to 10 p.m., and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. To make reservations, call (717) 695-3148. For more information, visit hickorysmokedgoodness.com and like “Smoke” on Facebook.