Bacon Ice Cream at Smoken Bones Cookshack
Sometimes, a recommendation for something comes out of the blue, when one least expects it, and in the most unusual of places. A veritable gift from the foodie gods, found in the most unlikely of venues. Take ice cream at a charcuterie restaurant, for example.
Enter Smoken Bones Cookshack – formerly located in Langford (they closed it in September 2011) and then relocated in downtown Victoria’s historic Hudson’s Bay Building (now known simply as The Hudson), Smoken Bones opened in its new location in late January of this year.
Run by none other than long-time chef and Island locavore, Ken Hueston, who is the former chef of Spinnakers (he originally hired Alison (Ali) Ryan over at Spinnakers) and the former Island Chefs’ Collaborative President (he was a founder of the Island Chefs’ Collaborative Food Fests).
When I met with Ken this past February for an interview and media tasting (around the same time as I met with Calen over at Big Wheel Burger), the first thing he did was proudly show me the interior design of the place. Construction of The Hudson started in 1913 but took several years to complete, including a hiatus from building due to World War I; the building was finally finished in September 1921.
So Ken designed his restaurant to the reflect the local blue collar workers that built it, much like those who originally built the building back in the early 20th century.
There are exposed ducts and exposed wood everywhere, including a plywood bar that was fashioned from a Douglas Fir that had blown down during a windstorm on Ken’s Dad’s property in Metchosin. The whole restaurant is geothermally heated, with an approximately $250,000 air filtering system that comes complete with its own auxiliary power.
“So actually the air leaving here is cleaner than the air that’s outside,” Ken states. “It’s a high-volume, low-impact restaurant.” And everything is hand-constructed, too – save for a condiment or two (think ketchup and mayonnaise, with the latter made locally).
The whole place has an “industrialist locavore” air about it.
“We’re just showing what it took to build the restaurant; it is a totally unique experience,” Ken informed me.
They cater to locals more than to tourists (although of course both are welcome). Their food-focus is meat that’s naturally wood-smoked on-site, with wood they chip themselves: in other words, an authentic cookshack experience. Southern U.S. comfort food by way of local on-Island barbecue fare made in-house and served up north of the Canada-U.S. border in Victoria, British Columbia (BC). The meat is Canadian and the chicken is sourced on-island.
“All our stuff is all just unorthodox and all unique,” Ken assures me. “And we make our own bacon, we make our own pastrami, we make our own sausages. We make everything by hand in here.”
Specialties on the lunch and dinner menu include Cookshack Gumbo ($9); Sloppy Joe ($7); Pulled Pork, Beef Brisket, or Smoked Chicken ($10); and John’s (Pork) Sausage ($13). Pure, meaty, comfort food.
Local comfort food. And tasty, too.
“The only thing that’s in our freezer is seafood and bread!” Chef John Brooks exclaimed. “And the bread’s made locally.”
Oh, and they have a pretty decent drink list to wash it all down that includes an extensive bourbon list, a drink that requires bacon-infused vodka, and even their very own signature beer, Smoken Bones Ale, made by local brewer Matt Phillips of Phillips Brewing Company.
Oh yeah, and about that gift…. It’s none other than one of the best ice cream dishes I’ve had in a very, very long time: Smoken Bones’ Bacon Ice Cream, at $6.50 a serving. It’s quite simple, really: vanilla ice cream, served up in a crunchy shell of bacon – candied bacon – and topped with whipped cream, drizzled caramel sauce, and an entire shard of that candy coating.
Oh … my … gawd.
(I want it … now. Sigh.)
So if you’re hankering for some really good ice cream – oh, and some locavore-carnivore action, to boot – Smoken Bones Cookshack just might be your all-in-one stop.