Gather ’round folks! There is a new Houston restaurant called International Smoke and one of the owners is someone we all are pretty familiar with! I will avoid even mentioning her husband’s name because Ayesha Curry is making a name for herself in the culinary world with cookbooks, a cookware line and as a restauranteur! Curry along with her partners brought the Bay Area restaurant International Smoke to Houston a few weeks back and I had the privilege of visiting with a group of food bloggers! Dig in to all of these details on International Smoke Houston!
International Smoke is located in a prominent section of City Centre. The restaurant features a large patio space that will be popular once the weather cools especially since it has it’s own bar. Inside, the space is pretty much as the same as it’s predecessor Straits just a darker color scheme. There is a large bar inside which is perfect for a happy hour meet up. Additionally, there are quite a few spaces suitable for large groups, so I will probably be adding International Smoke to my Houston Birthday List! Oh and since lighted signs are THE thing in Houston, be sure to get a photo of the one at International Smoke!
We enjoyed the Ohana Feast, which is also available to the general public! We started out with cornbread, duck wings, smoked burrata and 44 farms shaking beef. My one rule for cornbread is that it be sweet and this one passed the test! The duck wings were also pretty delicious. My favorite appetizer would have to be the shaking beef which is basically lettuce wraps. The beef is cooked in front of you and has SO much flavor.
For our main dishes we enjoyed chicken, ribs and red fish with green papaya slaw, rib tip mac & cheese and roasted broccoli. The ribs did not have the char I come to expect from Houston BBQ spots, but I still liked them. Good flavor and good sauce. On that note, I think many of us pegged International Smoke as a BBQ joint yet it features some pretty good seafood dishes. Like the red fish with garlic fried rice was probably my fave entree. Now for the sides. The standout is the mac and cheese! The rib tips add an additional flavor note that is amazing! The broccoli is pretty good too!
Now, let me be honest and note that the desserts were a fail in my book. This is the one area that I think Bay Area faves do not translate to Houston. We tried Ayesha’s Famous Key Lime Parfait topped with Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal. We also tried the Valhrona Chocolate Mousse. First off, the presentation made me think it was banana pudding and I immediately got excited to only be let down. The chocolate mousse parfait lacked the flavor I expect of a red velvet cake. THEN, I dug my spoon deep in to the bowl because I am greedy only to come up with a layer of strawberries mixed in. Again, no thanks. Dessert is often my favorite course at tastings and I found these to be rather disappointing.
Also Rockets fans (me included), I know many of you swore off Ayesha’s restaurant because her husband continues to shatter our Championship dreams. Fans shared their feelings on Yelp with some bad, albeit hilarious reviews before International Smoke even opened. Well… I just happened to see a Rockets Player dining there during my visit so if the players aren’t mad I guess we should not be either! In short, International Smoke is worth try and be sure to get the mac and cheese!