Taino Smokehouse opened recently on South Main Street, and I'd driven by the sign dozens of times thinking that a tobacco warehouse mart had opened up there. I was searching online for information about the new Krust Pizza restaurant that I'd spotted on Main Street, when I stumbled on a local food blog called Foodasaurus that had a review of Krust and one about Taino Smokehouse too. That is how I discovered Taino Smokehouse is a restaurant serving smoked meats and barbeque, and not a cigarette discount store. I immediately ordered takeout, selecting a wide range of menu items for me and my spouse to try out.
When I went to pick up the food, I told the server how, since the restaurant can't really be seen from the street at all, just the sign can, I'd been surprised to learn this was a restaurant and not a tobacco outlet and she said, “Everybody says that. But we have word of mouth.” Well, you do have word of mouth, (and word of blogs), but you also have a sign, and while I'm no marketing expert, I have deduced that the sign was placed there to inform the public about your establishment. But based on my experience and your admission, it falls short. Three little letters added onto the sign might be just the thing to attract more diners. (Hint: B-B-Q). End of that lecture, and back to the food.
While my husband thought the pulled pork was delicious, and Foodasaurus wrote that “Taino is among the best BBQ in CT”, I liked it but I wasn't as completely thrilled. To be fair, this isn't my favorite type of food and no matter how great a piece of meat is, I'm never going to be one to rave about it. Here are my impressions for whatever they're worth, and don't just listen to me – check them out on Yelp where they have many lengthy reviews of high praise.
I thought that the pork was moist and sweet. My brisket had a really nice “crust” that tasted like it had been made pastrami-style with coriander seeds, but the meat was on the dry, chewy side. The sauce that came with it was deliciously tangy but there was barely any of it. The cole slaw was fresh but too wet for my taste and nothing special. The corn bread muffins had a delicious taste but were crisply burnt around the edges and pretty dry. I still ate them both, so that is a testament to the great taste. The collard greens were cooked very well and with quite a bit of meat fat, which was tasty, but not so healthy, which is usually my goal when eating greens. The macaroni and cheese was delicious in a way that was reminiscent of childhood more than of high quality cheese, because it tasted like a jar of Cheez Whiz mixed in with cooked elbow noodles. It was creamy and salty in a kind of good way, but two small bites were enough for me. My husband had no problem with eating the rest of it. The noodles were cooked really well and weren't mushy. Overall, Taino Smokehouse is definitely worth trying out. I've since heard they have very good burgers there too, so I'll be back to check that out. They have about eight or so tables inside so you can dine in with wait service. It's right next to Ace Hardware.
As for Krust, our conclusion was that we'd go back to have a drink at the bar and that might lead to pizza eating, but we'd continue to prefer Mondo or even Jerry's or Illiano's for our strong pizza-as-comfort-food cravings. Krust had only been open for a few days when we visited, so may have been ironing out the kinks. We'll try the pizza again, it's not that it wasn't tasty. It was just very thick and bready, surprisingly so for wood fired oven pizza. The toppings were delicious but scarce. The tomato sauce was great but I couldn't get a mouthful of it. There just wasn't enough, probably the balance that keeps the crust from getting soggy is a very tricky thing. We had a mushroom pizza, and the mushrooms were intensely earthy and delicious, and even permeated the whole pizza, but even so there could have been more. A couple of the slices had one mushroom, a couple had two, and a few had none at all. Krust is not just a pizza restaurant, it's also a bourbon bar. Another area where I'm not the best person to give a full review. I didn't partake of any alcohol there, but my husband had the New Orleans classic Sazerac and said it was excellent and just as good as the ones he's had in it's city of origin. Hence our plan to visit the bar again in the future.
A few other new restaurants have opened in Middletown relatively recently, none of which I have tried yet. Any Eye readers out there who want to take a shot at writing a review, we'd be happy to post your critiques and musings. The places I'm thinking of are Stella D'Oro Italian restaurant in Metro Square, Michael's Deli on Broad Street, and Michael's Restaurant on Main Street. Or tell us about any meal you've had around town.