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Smalley’s Caribbean Barbecue and Pirate Bar

27 Jun


On Saturday around noon, Lauren and I stopped in at Smalley’s Caribbean Barbecue in Stillwater, a restaurant we’d never heard of before.  Something about this place intrigued me—I thought the food would be extra spicy.

Our first impression of the restaurant wasn’t great as we walked up to the podium where a pair of hostesses were exchanging some heated words, but we were promptly seated and our beverages were out within minutes.

A pretty healthy portion of food from Smalley's.

A pretty healthy portion of food from Smalley's.

The menu item that interested me the most was one of the combo platters, not unlike those of Famous Dave’s.  We both ordered the Chicken/Brisket combo but with different sides.  I opted for the curried vegetables and rice.  While we waited for our order, we sampled the various sauces.  They were all unique and certainly did have that Caribbean vibe.

The food was out relatively quickly and I dug right in.  My beef brisket was awesome as I doused it in the jerk sauce, but Lauren’s helping seemed to include lots of fatty pieces.  Maybe I just snarfed mine down too fast to notice, but I was impressed with the brisket.  The chicken seemed like maybe it was a little pink, and wasn’t the easiest thing to eat, but I found it adequate and finished it off.  The side dishes were both delicious.  The rice had a hint of coconut flavor while the vegetables were sauteed just right.

I was nervous to try the atomic pepper, but it was a big dud.

I was nervous to try the atomic pepper, but it was a big dud.

One thing that I found troubling was this atomic pepper that you can order for free.  Apparently it’s supposed to be super hot, but I found it to be more salty than anything.  The heat level was about 2/10.

The atmosphere was pleasant, the waitress was attentive, and the food was good for the most part.  The prices were reasonable as well.  Nothing really stood out as being overly good though, just a whole lot of adequacy and a little disappointment in the heat department.


Ugh. Nothing disgusts me more than a fatty piece of meat. I think it was the years of being a vegetarian, but anything that resembles tendons or ligaments or squishy, icky fat turns my stomach. The chicken, however, was smoky and delicious. I think I would have enjoyed the whole thing more if my brisket had been leaner. As a side, however, I got the mac & cheese with chiles AND bacon – delicious, and of course, low-cal!

I tried a bite of the supposedly “atomic pepper” and couldn’t believe how not spicy it was. Although I I love spicy foods, I was afraid and was expecting my mouth to be on fire – what a joke! It tasted salty and pickled, if anything. Definitely not spicy.

The atmosphere in Smalley’s is fun; after all, how often do you find a pirate-themed bar in the upper Midwest? But our Saturday afternoon lunch clearly wasn’t the time to be there as the restaurant was mostly empty and the staff milled about, bored.


Ryan: 3/5 Noms

Lauren: 2/5 Noms. I want to like Smalley’s. But fatty brisket is inexcusable.