Restaurant review: Kloby's is smokin'

Walk into Kloby's Smokehouse, and the first thing you notice is the smell.

The rich aroma of meat being smoked for barbecue hangs thick in the air. It's a hint of what lies ahead, and part of the reason why this popular Laurel restaurant recently had to expand. The barbecue here is good. Really good.

Opened only two months ago, Kloby's new restaurant and bar is attached to the old bar and carryout. The orange-and-yellow walls are adorned with TVs and firefighter regalia (the owner was formerly a firefighter).

A large part of the bar area is decorated with bourbon barrels; Kloby's serves more than 30 brands of the amber liquor. Beer is another mini-obsession — it has 32 beer taps, most dedicated to craft beers, which change after the keg is kicked.

For people who want to sample some unfamiliar suds, Kloby's offers a flight of five 4-ounce beers ($9.95). Served on little paddles, it's a great deal and a fun way to try new brews. Our server was knowledgeable about the beers and extremely nice and patient with us as we picked our dinner.

Also new are some items you wouldn't find unless you flipped through a little sandwich board in the middle of the table (when we visited, the new menus weren't in). Be sure to look for the corn fritter bites ($5.99). Quick to come out of the kitchen, like all of the items that night, these morsels were harbingers of the great meal to come. Crusty and salty on the outside collided with sweet and gooey on the inside to create a fantastic fritter. The mayonnaise-based white barbecue sauce that came with it added a creamy tartness which fit the fritters.

Four smoked whole wings (5.99) were meaty with crispy edges. Slightly charred, they provided an authentic grilled flavor. You can get your wings sauced 11 different ways, but I think naked with a few side sauces is the way to go.

Beer and barbecue sauces aren't the only things you're able to sample at Kloby's. The meats come in offerings of one ($9.99), two ($14.99) and three ($18.99) in case you like diversity. A combination plate is the way to go to taste as much barbecue as you can.

The ribs, both pork and beef, were the best I've had in the area. The smoky baby back ribs danced the line between supple and toothy, while the crunch of the caramelized sauce added bitterness to the sweetness of the glaze. The deep pink ring on the beef ribs — proof they've been smoked — showed that the pitmaster knew what he (or she) was doing. The crunchy bits gave way to tender and flavorful meat that we tore off of the bones in a most satisfying, carnivorous way.

The pulled pork and beef brisket were not as successful as the ribs, but good once paired up with their sauces. Some chunks in both were dry and tough, while others were moist and chewable. Their tangy sauces made them exponentially better. The quarter dark chicken defined fall-off-the-bone while still retaining a good texture. Its spicy barbecue sauce paired greatly with the meat.

The sides, which can be an afterthought in some barbecue joints, are surprisingly good at Kloby's. The tasty mac & cheese was creamy even after getting cold, while the green beans were cooked through but with a proper crunch. The baked beans were smoky and not overly cloying, but it was the corn bread that made the greatest impression. Corn bread can be dry, but Kloby's version was incredibly moist and tasted of sweet corn.

Kloby's makes its desserts in house, and the Saranac root beer float ($3.89), while not complicated, is a smart addition to their menu. Served in a Mason jar full of vanilla ice cream, it brought back memories of summer and was accompanied by another jar full of extra root beer for refills. The banana pudding ($3.59), also served in a Mason jar, was decent. The barely sweet pudding was made better by the vanilla cookies lining the jar — great for dunking.

It's easy to see why Kloby's had to expand. Word about its barbecue has spread, and if it keeps it up, it just might have to expand again soon.

Kloby's Smokehouse

Back story: Opened in 2008, Kloby's added a new restaurant and bar area two months ago. The new restaurant area features craft beers and bourbon alongside delicious barbecue.

Parking: Kloby's is located in a shopping center with ample parking.

Signature dish: Tender and flavorful, the smoky baby back ribs are some of the best you'll find in the area.

Where: 7500 Montpelier Road, Laurel

Contact: 301-362-1510, klobysbbq.com

Open: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday-Wednesday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Thursday-Saturday

Credit Cards: Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover

Appetizers: $3.99-$7.99

Entrees: $2.99-$18.99

Food: ✭✭✭1/2

Service: ✭✭✭

Atmosphere: ✭✭✭

[Key: Outstanding: ✭✭✭✭ Good: ✭✭✭ Fair or Uneven: ✭✭ Poor: ✭]