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The dish/ What's new in city dining
The Smoke Shack


June 2012

It looks like a shack. Duh. That’s why the owners Joe and Angie Sorge named it Smoke Shack. We knew we were in the right neighborhood when we got out of the car and detected the sweet smell of a hard-working smoker.

Inside the Smoke Shack dim lighting and a low ceiling put us somewhere south of Tennessee, anywhere but Milwaukee’s Third Ward. Communal tables made from recycled wood covered with plexiglass and soft-colored barn-wood walls, add southern charm to the Shack. There’s also a side deck for summertime dining and people watching on Milwaukee Street.

We ordered from the Sammich menu — Carolina Pulled Pork and Pulled Chicken — because what’s not to love when something smells that good. As she set down our plates, our server says, "Try the Carolina Gold on the sweet potato fries. It’s my favorite." That’s when I gave myself permission to play with my food and eat with my fingers.

The smoked meat, chicken, pork, and beef brisket are served sans sauce; customers add their sauce of choice. With four to choose from, I made four puddles on my plate and used those fingers to dip, mix and experiment with the pulled pork as well as the fries. Both Kansas City and House BBQ came off as slightly sweet and smoky, followed by a mild cayenne kick, as did the tomato-based Texas BBQ. Carolina Gold has a strong mustard-vinegar flavor. We passed on the Kick-24 Habanero, afraid it would overpower the other flavors. And the sweet potato fries? I happily soaked them in the House BBQ.

There’s more than smoked meat at the shack. As co-owner Angie Sorge is a vegetarian, customers will note a Roasted Portobello Sammich and BBQ Seitan, tofu-like, served with House BBQ, arugula and red onion. Our neighbor at the communal table loved her Fried Tomato Salad, another veggie choice. Items on the menu are marked with symbols to denote veggie, gluten-free or things with nuts. A number by the meat tells how many hours it spent in the smoker; the winner is brisket at 14.

We couldn’t pack in dessert even after our server lovingly described the house-made pecan pie served with a dollop of whiskey-cinnamon ice cream from the Purple Door.

After my fork-free meal, I needed a wet wipe, and that’s how I finished, sated from a pile of well-sauced pork just pulled from the smoker.

»Smoke Shack
332 N. Milwaukee St.
(414) 431-1119


This story ran in the June 2012 issue of: