No, it’s not a hardware store. Just the latest fun adventure from Sidewall Pizza and Rocket Surgery owners Andy O’Mara and Loren Frant. Monkey Wrench Smokehouse offers BBQ smoked right on the back porch, delicious sides with a creative spin as well as homemade desserts. Set right along the Swamp Rabbit Trail, I can imagine Monkey Wrench as a dining destination for families, tourists and pretty much anyone who loves simple, great food in a casual atmosphere.
Feel free to start your meal with one of their barrel aged cocktails or a beer from their impressive craft beer list. Then, venture on to their starters and order some signature Smoked Belly Corn Dogs or Bacon Fried Hoe Cakes. Being the seafood lover that I am, we ordered the Smoked Salmon Dip served with grilled baguette. Monkey Wrench grills their bread on a wood-fired grill, giving it a smoky, charred flavor that complements the creamy salmon dip with fresh dill perfectly.
When I saw that Monkey Wrench serves their House Hot Link Sausage Dog in a toasted King’s Hawaiian roll, I was sold. Rarely would you say “I’m making gourmet hot dogs for dinner tonight.” Which is exactly why you MUST order this one and let Monkey Wrench do the work for you. Topped with mustard and hot cherry peppers, this “fancy” dog is delicious. But really…can anything taste bad inside a King’s Hawaiian roll??
If you want to try a little of everything, The Smokehouse is calling your name. A sampling of pulled pork, brisket, half rack of ribs, wings, sausage with three sides, cornbread and house pickled veggies, it’s not for the faint of heart. As you taste the array of meats, don’t forget one of their homemade sauces ranging from a sweet and spicy Cheerwine flavor to a mustard-based Carolina sauce. The ribs though don’t need a single bit of sauce added to them and are the definition of finger lickin’ goodness. The smoked chicken wings impressed me the most with their extra crispy skin and tender, smoky meat.
What goes hand in hand with BBQ? Equally tasty sides of course. Their cornbread is more like a corn cake with a melt-in-your-mouth texture and hint of sweetness. It’s not your average dry, lackluster cornbread. A nuance to BBQ sides, Cauliflower Casserole, stands out among the rest. While of course the Mac & Cheese is a crowd-pleaser (and Monkey Wrench’s comes with an irresistible crunchy topping) something about the creamy, caramelized cauliflower casserole stole the show.
As with Rocket Surgery and Sidewall Pizza, you can’t leave without ordering dessert. The Caramel Apple Cobbler is decadent to say the least. It comes to the table in a blazing hot skillet with a browned, slightly crispy edge and gooey center with cooked apples and caramel. The scoop of Sidewall vanilla ice cream is truly the cherry on top. When I think BBQ my mind goes directly to banana pudding. Monkey Wrench serves theirs in a wine glass layered with pudding, bananas, whipped cream and vanilla wafers. Even though you maybe shouldn’t eat toooo much of it, it’s easy to devour their rendition of a timeless dessert.