Restaurant Review // Russel's Smoke House

February 12, 2013
Low and slow.  That's the making of great barbecue.  Russel's Smoke House is a restaurant designed around that same methodology, in a setting paying homage to the cowboy era of Colorado's past.  

(clockwise from top left:  my family  /  baby back ribs, spaetzle and baked beans  /  the beautiful floors in the bar  /  Gina, Ryan and I  /  shredded prok shoulder, baked beans, slaw and texas toast /  cow wallpaper  /  stained glass door)

At Russel's you will find cow corrals reused for seating backs, antique tin light fixtures dimly lighting wide-plank honey floors, aqua green exposed pipe ceilings and a beautiful old stained-glass window made into a sliding door.  We loved the giant barrel of boiled peanuts next to the main dining room, along with the great cow wallpaper in the restrooms.  Fun details like these show the thought and intention that owner Frank Bonanno put into this place along with his many other restaurants.

I will 100% admit that barbecue might be the most subjective food out there because of the many styles, techniques and flavors.  Russel's uses a blend of cherry and hickory for the majority of their slow cooked meats and puts their focus on their dry-rub to give baby back ribs, house-made kielbasea, berkshire pork shoulder and smoked chicken such great deep, smoky flavor.  If you want a bit more kick, there are house-made BBQs available; a tangy vinegar, a subtly sweet version with a tomato base and then spicy, with strong pepper flavors.  

(clockwise from top left:  my parents looking so cute laughing together  /  larimer st in all it's glory  /  fried chicken, gruyere waffles and collared greens  /  house made BBQs  /  apple pie and cardamom caramel pie  /  Russel's metal sign)

The shining stars at Russel's Smoke House are obviously the meats but close runners up would be the sides.  Hands down, you need to try the bourbon glazed baked beans as they were spoon-licking good.  The gooey-rich mac and cheese along with the homemade spaetzle were decadent  without being over the top.  My husband ordered the fried chicken which was worth the 30 minute wait but mostly because it came with a gruyere cheese waffle which was airing and had great nutty flavors from the cheese.  

I feel like Russel's missed the mark with their kielbasa as the fat content was a bit high for my liking and it did not have that crispy casing which brings such great texture to the sausage.  The gravy that came with the fried chicken was another misstep due to the heavy-hand with the flour.  The  over floured consistency was less than appealing to look and eat.

Russel's Smoke House is an approachable BBQ restaurant that brings great charm and adoration to the smoke houses of old.  Their meats are deeply flavorful and nearly everything on the menu is consistently well-made.  A few missteps will not deter me from a future visit, nor will they cloud my opinion on some of the best ribs I have ever eaten.  

P.S.... these photos were part of my parent's birthday's celebrations.  Happy birthday to both of you.  I love you with all my heart!


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