That’s what it says in huge letters right above the counter at Graze Smokehouse in Cedarhurst, New York. You can’t miss it when you walk in the door. The other thing you can’t miss is the smell. There’s nothing like the scent of smoked meats, and if you love that smell, Graze is the place for you.
I was invited to check out all that Graze has to offer, but frankly, that task proved impossible. Not only is the menu full of so many different combinations of their array of amazing eats, they also have an entire page dedicated to their dried meat delicacies. But let’s start at the beginning …
If you’re going with a group, the Loaded BBQ Fries are a brilliant choice. These crispy fries have a little of everything on top. There’s pulled beef with chipotle barbecue sauce and pit beans, cheezy sauce and pico de gallo, and don’t forget the jalapeño and chopped onions. If you’re on your own, I wouldn’t fault you for making this your whole meal because the portion size is large enough to make it work. That said, the Loaded Nachos are an even larger plate and are great if you’re splitting with a crowd or even if you’d just rather have the house-made chips instead of fries.
On the smaller side, try the Smoked Chicken Flautas. You might know these as taquitos, but either way they’re delicious. The trio of crispy corn tortillas are stuffed with pulled smoked chicken and topped with guacamole and salsa. This appetizer is a great example of how simple combinations can yield an impressive result. The taste is savory, creamy and spicy while the texture is that perfect “crunch and mush” we all love so much. (They have these 12 for $36 on their catering menu. You’re welcome.)
Moving on to the main part of your meal, there are many roads you could go down. Graze has a whole menu of smoked meat options that includes sections for beef, birds and sausages. If you want to get a good sampling of Graze’s smoked meats, I’d suggest you order the Trifecta Platter. It allows you to choose any three meats and gets you some really good value. Go for the Brisket Burnt Ends (their signature chunks of fatty brisket, BBQ sauce on the side), House Cured Pastrami (salty goodness with the deep smoked flavor that got you in the door), and Smoked Roast Beef (order it cold and enjoy the taste of the beef).
If chicken is more your speed, order the Half Chicken Dinner Platter. There’s a lot of care put into this chicken as it’s marinated in apple brine, rubbed with a southern spice blend, and smoked with maple wood. The result is a super juicy and tender one that you won’t want to stop eating.
Both of those platters come with one hot side and one cold side of your choosing. If you’re looking for guidance in that area, I’d go with the Mashed Potatoes and Gravy and the Cornbread Muffins. The potatoes have a really creamy consistency and the thick, rich gravy adds to the flavor, while the cornbread has just a touch of sweetness so that it works as a side dish and not as dessert.
Though very different, putting stuff between two pieces of bread is also an option for your main course. With a dozen burgers and a dozen sandwiches, the choices are vast as there are many different combinations and permutations of the many meats with various toppings. If there’s something that jumps out at you because it’s a bunch of your favorites on the same item, go for it. The burgers here are a big attraction because the meat is ground in house and uses a blend that features smoked brisket. You can’t get that at your average burger place.
The Truffle Mushroom Burger was one of the best burgers I’ve had in a very long time. First, the bun was capable of supporting the contents. That may sound like a small point, but given components and their size, the bun became as crucial as the foundation of a building. The patty carried that hint of smokiness from the brisket, the mushrooms were plentiful and became one with the creamy cheese sauce, and the flavor of the black truffle salt came through nicely in the background.
In the treif restaurant world, milkshakes go with burgers. Few places on our side of the street have this combo because pareve milkshakes are hard to do well. But if you’ve ever been curious about the famous combination, get a Salted Caramel Pretzel Milkshake. You can barely tell that the ice cream is pareve, the texture is great (with pretzel pieces blended in), and you’ll almost feel weird having it in a place that’s so inherently fleishig.
Revisiting the previously mentioned dried meats, make sure to grab something to take home with you. Under their Holy Jerky brand name (certified by the OU and also available at holyjerky.com), Graze pumps out some amazing stuff. Unlike the usual food you bring home from a restaurant, this will last for a while (unless your willpower fails you). With more than two dozen different varieties spread out among jerky, charcuterie, dried sausage, dried salami, and biltong, choosing something might be tough. I loved the Chipotle and Honey Jerky for its mixture of sweet, spicy and smokey, but there really is something for everyone. They also make boards and platters of all sizes and sell in larger quantities if that’s something you need.
Even with everything I’ve already mentioned, there’s still so much more. Not just from the menu (sliders, wings, loaded hot dogs, salads, rice bowls, ribs, deli, meat pizzas, desserts), but also on the business side. Their party room is a huge hit as a spot for sheva brachot (and other occasions) and you can get a slightly abbreviated portion of their menu at their takeout only location in Manhattan (100 West 83rd St.). Let’s just say they’ve got a lot going on.
But that’s their job. Your job is to figure out what to order and my job is to help. Hopefully, I succeeded.
Meat – Counter Service (Lunch)/Waiter Service (Dinner)
Sunday-Thursday: 11 a.m.-10 p.m.
Friday: 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
529 Central Ave.
Cedarhurst, New York
Vaad Hakashrus of the Five Towns and Far Rockaway
Nati Burnside is a freelance writer living in Fair Lawn and a man of many interests. He can be reached at [email protected].