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Best burgers: SMOQE

Stop. Press. We have discovered the Best Burgers in Kent – and they are in Rochester. Smokey, authentic and side-steppin', lip-smackin' good – you need to get your chops around one of them PDQ.

LOCATION 

You will find SMOQE on the High Street in Rochester where we had our heads turned on a recent visit. Did you know that Rochester has the most independent shops out of any of the other towns and cities in Kent? Well you do now – plus a castle dating back to Norman times and a stunning Cathedral, where everyone flocked last year to witness the Museum of the Moon – a lunar installation by UK artist Luke Jerram – and there is a new display by the same artist heading its way to Rochester for February 2022 so watch this place to find out more about ‘Gaia.’ 

THE LOWDOWN 

SMOQE is everything that we love and celebrate at Muddy as it is family-run and born out of a genuine passion. Owner, Clare, and her family have travelled extensively in the USA where the idea behind SMOQE was born, and it arrived in Rochester in November 2020 – yep just in time for lockdown 

You’ll find that unmistakable smoked BBQ flavour in all their dishes and it also forms the foundation of their SMOQE’d Rub and House sauces so if you love the taste of an authentic smoked burger and ribs, you are going to love SMOQE.  

THE VIBE 

Burger joints don’t tend to reside in stylish spots, but SMOQE manages to unite the two. Copper lighting and on-trend dark blue walls set the tone. It’s the kind of place where you could grab a quick burger for lunch with a friend or head to in the evening for more of a fun elongated feast. Families are very welcome, as you can well imagine, and there’s outdoor seating too if the weather is in your favour. 

SCOFF AND QUAFF 

First-up you need to know that all the burgers are all handmade on-site. This is comfort food at its best, and you don’t feel spat out by a mass-market burger machine. Plus, we walked away feeling full but not disgusted by ourselves which is always a plus in my book.  

My fellow burger-loving pal and I opted for The Grim Reaper which contains, (deep breath) a 4 oz beef patty, Hot-House sauce, gem lettuce, tomato, Applewood smoked cheese and Smoqe’n streaky bacon in a charcoal bun. We split the burger between us which gives you that money-shot picture of the burger, literally oozing, with all those ingredients.  

We also took one for the team by sharing a Korean Spicy BBQ Chicken which is (another deep breath) Panko crumbed chicken breast drizzled with homemade Gochujang BBQ sauce, kewpie mayo, Asian slaw with kimchi, spring onion & chilli sprinkle, topped with pickled cucumber and contained in a Tennessee bun. As we know, Korean food is having its moment in the spotlight and this burger is a winning combo. I might just dream about it.     

There’s Smoqe’d Jackfruit or Onion Bhaji Burgers for the non-meat eating crowd and if you want to swerve the bread, you can have a Smoqe Salad Bowl which is lettuce, tomatoes, avo, slaw and your choice of Buttermilk Chicken or Pulled Pork to top it all off or their SMOQE Chilli bowl with wholegrain rice.  

We did the obvious food/drink pairing and washed our burgers down with a Malted Vanilla & Strawberry milkshake but there’s wine for the more refined and craft beer plus we are told they make a good G&T.  

Since it is family-run, all SMOQE’s recipes are thoroughly researched and tested by the whole family before they make it onto the SMOQE menu. From achieving the right mix of prime beef cuts in the patties to perfecting the method of how they’re cooked, if they don’t recreate the memories, they don’t make the cut. 

OUT AND ABOUT 

It’s well worth the visit for the artisan burgers alone but you can also make a fun day of it with the family (bit of castle, bit of burger and milkshake, bit of mooch around the shops) or go with friends as we also spied a lovely day-spa (Amazing Space) on its High Street as well as a cute book shop (Store 104) with a café, plus colourful crafts, artwork, and ceramics and plenty of other indie businesses worth a good browse. 

ANYTHING ELSE? 

You need to know about Rib Wednesday – when it’s just their St. Louis ribs on the menu served with Fries & Coleslaw. This is run supper-club style so you can mix and match with other diners (if you fancy) and get to know fellow foodies.  

THE MUDDY VERDICT   

GOOD FOR: Those who appreciate authentic flavours and want an Insta-worthy looking burger on their plate – it’s going to suit all ages and taste buds too. 

NOT FOR: Rochester is not everyone’s scene after-hours when it can get a bit ‘lively’ but SMOQE is in a great position on the High Street with parking close-by so you can make a quick exit if need be… 

THE DAMAGE   

Our Grim Reaper and Korean Spicy BBQ Chicken burger cost £14 each and Fries and House Slaw are £3 upwards. You are looking at £9 for House wine ranging up to £34 and the knock-out milkshakes are £4.50. Look out for their Burger Weekender deals – as between 1pm-3pm (Friday to Sunday) you can get free fries and a free soft drink with your Burger. We told you it was worth the journey… 

172 High Street, Rochester, Kent, ME1 1EX, smoqe.co.uk, 01634 553 010, hello@smoqe.co.uk 

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