The Transit Smokehouse & BBQ is more than a place to eat. It’s a step into history, a place where owner Ray Pritlove has tried to honour history, and make the old Transit Hotel site into a Fort Road hub again.
My friend Jay joined me once again to ride shotgun on the food review, and spoke about how excited he was about going to a place that once hosted Edmonton’s once-famous gerbil races.
What greeted us was, well, history. The idea wasn’t to turn the bones of the old, built-in-1908 hotel into a modern hipster hangout. Vintage pictures from the hotel and Fort Road neighbourhood adon the wall, including, yes, a snapshot from the days of the gerbil races. Old tools hang from the walls, celebrating the industrial and agricultural pasts of the neighbourhood. The floor still dips and heaves, the white walls are still intact. The only thing that prevents you from ordering an Old Stock with tomato juice is the aroma of barbecue coming from the kitchen.
We ordered a platter of ribs, pulled pork and brisket. What came was a full-on banquet, along with a tray of five house-made sauces — from cherry to Alberta sweet to the traditional tang of a Carolina vinegar.
When the tray arrived, Jay laughed, maybe a bit too much like the late Heath Ledger as the Joker. He warned me of the meat coma that was to come. Ah, sweet meat coma — allow your deliciousness to take me into your carnivorous dreamland.
The star of the show was the brisket; so soft with just the right amount of char on the edges. With the subtle, sweet notes of the cherry sauce, this was a winner.
The ribs and pork were more subtle. The ribs don’t come to the table sauced, as the rub method was preferred, here. But the Carolina and Alberta Sweet sauces made for nice additions at the table.
Finally, the pulled pork. Again, the smoke isn’t overpowering; but the meat is tender; the server asked us if we wanted a couple of buns so we could make our own sandwiches, but we chose instead to simply go directly from our serving plates to our mouths.
With regular live music, Pritlove is looking to make the Transit Smokehouse & BBQ a true community destination.
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