Smoque co-owner Barry Sorkin says the origin story behind the Old Irving Park BBQ institution's newest project sounds made up, but it's true. The restaurant received a mismarked case of brisket and opened it up to find strip loins. He decided to experiment with them in the smoker, and was pretty pleased with the results.
"I'm sure I'm not the first to smoke a steak, but I wanted to see what would happen, and it was really good," he says.
From there, came the brainstorming. At first, the plan was to launch a smoked steak night a certain night of the week at the original Smoque location, but the more Sorkin and his team thought about it, there was enough enthusiasm and interest for the idea to be its own thing. Now, the team behind Smoque is launching Smoque Steak, a new Avondale spot featuring their smoked and seared steaks.
The team began working on the concept for Smoque Steak prior to the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, but fans of the original Smoque have been asking the team for years about some kind of expansion, and steak was it.
"We wanted to wait until something inspired us in the way barbecue did," Sorkin says.
Sorkin says beef and smoke are a natural pairing, and smoking a steak adds a level of richness and complexity that complements the classic steakhouse edge-to-edge medium-rare cook and presentation. "What we offer still has that familiar eating experience, but it's a different flavor profile," he says. "The smoke adds something that makes it very special."
In addition to the beef itself, Sorkin says Smoque Steak will offer a "pretty complete steakhouse spread," including smoked and non-smoked seafood selections like shrimp scampi, sea scallops and their popular smoked salmon. The team plans for the menu to have vegetarian options, classic steakhouse sides, desserts and cocktails as well.
Sorkin says in addition to the unique menu, Smoque Steak seeks to take the classic steakhouse experience and offer excellent food and hospitality without the opulence and excess that's sometimes associated with a high-end steak dinner.
"The best steakhouses in the city are geared much more for special occasions and expense accounts," Sorkin says. "It's really hard to find a great steak ennvironment that's designed for everyday at a price point that's more for everyday. We want to build something that's suitable for a special occasion but doesn't require one."
Smoque Steak recently began the construction phase at the 3310 N Elston location, and Sorkin says the team is targeting a fall 2022 open. For more information and updates, visit the restaurant's website.