Howard County dining: Kloby's Smokehouse

A lot of people think of barbecue and ice cream as strictly seasonal treats. Not so, say the regulars at Kloby’s Smokehouse in North Laurel. From a counter-service barbecue joint that opened in April 2008, Kloby’s has pretty much doubled in size so that it is now a full-service restaurant that can seat 150. And it now specializes not only in barbecue but in bourbon. And beer. And bread pudding. And ice cream.

The new Kloby’s began operations in June, after extensive renovations. Décor is minimal except for a couple of firefighters ensembles, reflecting owner Steve Klobosits’ former life as a paramedic with the fire department. Relaxed describes Kloby’s well.

The central dining area is divided from the beverage bar by another high-top eating bar held up by a long row of faux whiskey barrels, obviously pointing out the fact that Kloby’s also has about 40 different bourbons and ryes available, not to overlook the 30 or so draft beers du jour.

For starters

The focus here is still the food, of course. And while vegetarians can find a meal, meat eaters -- red and white, smoked and unsmoked -- are the focus.  

The restaurant offers a quartet of burger styles. Your basic is either beef or turkey with a variety of fixings. Kloby’s has designed the Carolina, the BBQ Bacon Cheeseburger, the Chipotle Cheeseburger and the Beef Brisket Burger. Prices range $5.99 to $9.99 -- a little more if you get really fancy with the toppings. All are served with hand-cut fries.

There are nine sandwiches, too, including Carolina pulled pork or barbecued chicken, beef brisket, brisket cheesesteak and a barbecue slider sampler.

Our meat-loving quartet began the Kloby’s adventure with a large basket of hush puppies ($3.89/8); whole Buffalo-style wings ($10.99/8); and the chili du jour with cornbread ($4.29/ample cup).

The hush puppies were big, plump, hot and moist -- arguably the best we’ve tried, even in the “South.”

Our server called the chili du jour “pot luck,” and as such it featured several kinds of meats, which added up to a hearty, beany, nicely spiced whole. The cornbread was fragrant and fluffy, corny and fun.

Meaty matters

There’s a little section on the menu titled “Meat Plates.” Very simple. You choose one meat ($9.99), two meats ($14.99) or three meats ($18.99). With your choice you get two sides and some cornbread. The meats include pulled pork, beef brisket, smoked turkey breast, spicy sausage, tri-tip sirloin (for $2 extra), baby back ribs ($1 more), beef ribs or one-quarter of a barbecued chicken (dark or white meat).

One guest chose the (grilled) tri-tip sirloin, which was amply sized, done rare as requested and satisfyingly tender-chewy.

From the ribs department, we ordered up a half-rack of baby backs ($9). These fall-off-the-bone tender ribs were done Carolina style, with a tangy vinegar-based sauce. Unfortunately, the mac and cheese took too long to get from the kitchen to the table and so wasn’t hot enough to be at its best.

The Carolina pulled pork sandwich, topped with coleslaw, was large and filling. About as good a version of pulled pork as we’ve tried. And a barbecue slider sampler ($9.99) boasted a trio of mini-sandwiches: pulled pork, beef brisket and chicken. Each was charming on its own. We’d be hard put to decide which one was best.

In addition to the meat eaters’ nirvana in the dining rooms, there’s a 500-square-foot ice cream parlor on the premises, which also sells ready-to-heat portions of another Kloby’s specialty, bread pudding. At any given time there are three to five different varieties available from among the 15 rotating flavors.  

Of course, all that meat (and everything else) was filling, so the bread pudding and ice cream has to wait for another time. And there will be another time.

Kloby’s Smokehouse, 7500 Montpelier Road, Laurel. 301-362-1510, Open seven days. No reservations.

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