I almost never rush home to blog about a restaurant immediately anymore, but here I am. Smokehouse Sandwich Co. is a brand new hidden gem in Richmond, B.C. Rico Versoza, the chef and owner, used to be a writer and director of short films and music videos in the Philippines. Now he “tells stories on the plate,” he says.
Smokehouse is in a weird strip mall on Westminster Highway. For the Richmondites, it’s between No. 1 and No. 2 Roads, a few blocks west of the Richmond Hospital and one block from the city works yard on Lynas Lane. Yeah, who knew any delicious business was out there?
Smokehouse is good looking, with dark rustic wood tables, mismatched white chairs — and be still my heart, a beautiful baby high chair, AND a toddler table and chairs. Rico, who has two daughters, says there’s even a play stove that’s coming soon. So kid-friendly? You bet.
The menu (five sandwiches mostly at $7.99) is short but sweet. It’s a smart and manageable move for the family-run business.
Rico’s mom took my order at the counter and then I sat down and waited for a few minutes. I got The Samson, a biblically delicious coffee-crusted, strawberry-glazed beef brisket sandwich. The butter lettuce and red peppers added a fantastic crunch. The bun from Cobbs was toasty on the outside and critically, held everything together well.
Rico cares about quality. The aioli on my sandwich is homemade, as are the thin-cut potato chips ($2) I got as a side. Oh and the house hot sauce is made from smoked garlic, onions, red peppers, four kinds of vinegar, and then buzzed with three chilis. Rico calls it Tiago, one half of The Brothers of Thunder. The other brother, Juan, is a green hot sauce that’s “still in development.”
One conspicuously empty wall is earmarked for coolers to hold salads and house-made meats like sausages to cook at home. The Manny is a fantastic Filipino longanisa-inspired sausage infused with garlic and coconut vinegar, while the Jackie Chain (does Rico have a way with names or what) is a sweet, five-spice laced concoction.
Rico was telling me he wants to get more high chairs that match the decor, so I suggested the Ikea Antilop because it fits the white theme and is so so easy to clean. He pointed out he wants to wait til the labour dispute at the Richmond location ends before he goes in. I think that says a lot about the kind of person he is.
Open for only a month, business is building through word of mouth. Rico and his mom took time to chat with the customers, ask their names, and if they worked in the area.
Hospitality and independent restaurants like this are harder to come by these days, so I hope more people check out Smokehouse. I know I already want to return to try the cumin-spiced pulled pork, or just another Samson or five.
Smokehouse Sandwich Co., 5188 Westminster Hwy., Richmond, B.C., (604) 370-4177. Open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday to Saturday. Closed Sundays. Cash, debit and credit accepted.