What is in this article?:
- Smokey Bonesâ menu returns to its roots
- Focusing on fire grilled
Smokey Bones has introduced new smoke items, including a smoked prime rib.
Smokey Bones Bar & Fire Grill vice president of culinary, Mark Bibby.
Smokey Bones hasn’t had a straightforward history. Founded in 1999 by Darden Restaurants Inc. as Smokey Bones Barbeque, the casual-dining chain was tweaked multiple times as its parent company tried to determine how to give national appeal to a food as regionally idiosyncratic as barbecue.
In 2007, Darden sold the concept to a subsidiary of Sun Capital Partners, which renamed it Smokey Bones Bar & Fire Grill.
Mark Bibby was consulting with Darden on Smokey Bones at the time of the sale, and Sun Capital hired him to be the vice president of culinary for the struggling brand.
Since then, the chain has been reconceptualized, away from barbecue and toward a more general casual-dining format. But in the latest image adjustment under chief executive Christopher J. Artinian, who took the chain’s helm in June, one key component in barbecue — smoke — has been brought to the forefront of the restaurant’s image. New menu items include a smoked prime rib, which is offered as a special Thursday through Sunday from 4 p.m. until closing.
Bibby recently discussed those changes with Nation’s Restaurant News.
Tell me about the smoked prime rib.
It’s going really well, a lot better than I anticipated. Every week [it] has been increasing in sales, which has been great. It seems to be getting a good guest response.
We already have two smokers in each restaurant, and to be able to use them for another item is great.
How do you make it?
We take a 10-pound rib eye, season it with kosher salt and pepper, and put in the smoker at 200-225 degrees [Fahrenheit] with preheated hickory wood. We cook it for about an hour and 45 minutes to an internal temperature of 115 degrees, and then hold it [in a warming oven] until it reaches 120-125 degrees. We heat it to order and offer either a 10-ounce or a 14-ounce portion, with au jus and horseradish sour cream. We make sure it’s ready by 4 p.m., and an hour later we’ll throw another piece in for people who want their meat rare.