I see my family in Red Deer about once a month and for the past few visits I have been obsessed with dragging friends and family into Red Boar Smokery. My dad was a tough sell as he’s a talented home chef (and homebody!), but a few weeks ago he agreed to join me as we were overdue for a lunch date.
Because it was our first time there together, the staff recommended we try the Barnyard platter ($32), which comes with ¼ chicken, 2 pork ribs, sliced brisket, a heaping pile of pulled pork and two sides – we chose the apple ginger slaw and mac and cheese. Red Boar boasts a great selection of Albertan sodas and beers, but it felt right to order house-made sparkling lemonades, which also meant we could choose which of the four different syrups we wanted to add. We both opted for raspberry – apparently this apple doesn’t fall far from the tree!
Less than five minutes later, our platter was ready for pickup on a metal tray with sheets of butcher paper to use as plates. We poured out some Boar-B-Q sauce (because neither of us can resist a pun) and got to work!
The Barnyard platter was just the right size for the two of us, but please note that we’re big eaters! Dad and I agreed the chicken was a highlight. It had a smoky skin while the inside was tender and juicy. The two pork ribs were perfectly smoked as well and dry enough that you could use your hands without too much mess. I loved dipping mine in the Boar-B-Q sauce!
The brisket had a rosy smoke ring and the outer crust was salty, savoury and slightly sweet. The meat pulled apart easily, but held its shape well and was easy to eat with just a fork. The pulled pork was tasty and soaked up the Boar-B-Q sauce beautifully.
The sides we ordered received mixed reviews. Dad had been particularly excited about the apple ginger slaw, but was disappointed to find it overdressed. I personally enjoyed the crisp slivers of green apple and the tangy, creamy dressing. The mac and cheese was smooth and velvety, but felt quite rich as a pairing with the giant stack of meat. We agreed to try different sides next time, but the sparkling lemonades would have to stay – the sweet, tart drinks were exactly what we needed to balance all of the heavy flavours on the table.
I was back in town this past weekend with Matt, so we went back to Red Boar with Dad, Karen and Kirsten with our eyes on the big prize – the Farmhouse ($70), which includes every kind of meat on the menu along with three sides. It had all the same kinds of meat as the Barnyard (but in larger portions) as well as a hefty pile of sliced, smoked pork sausage and candied pork belly. Between the multiple baking sheets full of food and the armfuls of lemonade, it took all five of us to get our food, cutlery and drinks back to the table.
We came with big appetites but could have shared with one more, despite the Farmhouse being advertised as feeding 2-4 people. I’m pretty sure if two people tried to finish this by themselves they would die – but at least they’d die happy. Almost everyone agreed the maple-tinged candied pork belly was the winner of the day. Karen was the only hold out because, as she said, the smoked half chicken was “the best chicken [she’s] ever had in her life”.
The sides this time were a big hit, as well. The Sriracha salad had a slightly zesty vinaigrette – definitely not too hot for those intimidated by spice. It was made up of crisp lettuce, large hunks of cheese curd, tart slices of green apple, red onions and some smoky cubes of pork. The cornbread was sweet and freshly baked – a nice little portion when divided into five slices. The creamed corn (as pictured charmingly slopped onto the tray) was the favourite and the only complaint was that we should have ordered more of it.
Everyone’s favourite sauce was the Boo Berry BBQ, which was packed with sweet blueberry flavour and went great with the brisket and pulled pork. The other one we loved was the Great White North, Red Boar’s answer to a zesty ranch, which paired perfectly with the chicken and sausage.
Red Deer is a pork processing town and has been for over 100 years, which is why it’s upsetting and confusing that it took until 2015 for a restaurant like Red Boar to show its face. We will definitely be back to support this award-winning, locally owned restaurant. If you love the kind of meal that will make you need a nap later – which my dad certainly did as soon as we got back to his place – please check out Red Boar Smokery in downtown Red Deer (4916 50 St #104, Red Deer, AB) at your next opportunity!