What a pleasure it is to meet old friends that you thought you’d never see again. My particular old friend is named Kathy, who handles front-of-house duties at one of my formerly favorite eateries, Elizabethton’s Smokehouse BBQ Company.

For one reason or another, I hadn’t darkened their door in almost two years, and it took an inquiry from the Retiree to get my curiosity about the restaurant going once again. My dining partner said we should swing by, have a bite, and renew our acquaintance with the location, the staff and the cuisine.

Smokehouse BBQ Company is located just up the Milligan Highway from Happy Valley High School, in a cozy little glen near Buffalo Creek. The restaurant’s parking lot connects with the popular Tweetsie Trail via a sturdy bridge, making it a well-placed rest stop for grateful Tweetsie Trail hikers and bikers. Inside there are two dining areas that seat more than a hundred diners between them; there is seating for 20 more on the restaurant’s back porch. Restrooms are located just off the front dining area.

Georgia native Eric Goding has been Smokehouse BBQ Company’s owner for the past three years. Under Goding’s guiding hand, the Smokehouse BBQ Company has kept seasoned apple and cherry wood as its smoking source; you can taste the difference on your tongue with the very first mouthful. The meats are dry-rubbed before smoking, the restaurant’s three sauces being applied at table to the diner’s taste.

Still the capable happy person that we met when we walked through the front door two owners ago, Kathy was glad to see my dining partner and I once more, and we spent a gentle moment or two catching up on the news and views once more.

Smokehouse Breakfast Burger

There had been some changes in the menu at Smokehouse BBQ Company since the last time my dining partner and I were there.

For instance, there is the new Smokehouse Breakfast Burger that comes with a side order of fries ($9.99). It looked so good my dining partner decided to make a “breakfast for supper” decision and ordered one. It is an eight-ounce 100% ground sirloin burger topped with fried egg, bacon, lettuce and tomato. There’s apple butter on it, although having the apple butter on the side makes a great dipping sauce for the fresh-cut French fries. The Smokehouse breakfast burger was of such a size my dining partner needed two hands to get a grip on it. Needless to say, she had a very tasty time doing so.

Smokehouse Mix & Match Platter

While my dining partner was enjoying her late breakfast, I chose an old favorite of mine, the Smokehouse Mix & Match platter ($11.79), with smoked, pulled pork and smoked chicken in the starring roles. For my two side orders, I chose a basketful of their excellent grilled potatoes and onions. For my second side, I picked some Cowboy Beans, another old Smokehouse favorite of mine for just a dollar extra. The pork was from the shoulder, smoked just so and carefully pulled by hand, leaving just the meat in all its majesty. My first bite of smoked pulled pork unwound off my fork into a series of long dangly meat sinews that looked like “pork spaghetti;” very tender and very good. The chicken, being mostly breast and thigh meat, came through its smoking process still moist and tender. Though my potatoes and onions were good, the real standout was the smoky Cowboy Beans; a mixture of navy and Great Northern beans together with bits of smoked pork in a savory sauce that was so thick you could stand a spoon up in it. All in all, my Mix & Match platter was everything my taste buds remembered it to be.

The bottom line

It was good to be dining at Smokehouse BBQ Company once again, catching up on news with Kathy while my dining partner and I enjoyed two well-prepared and tasty meals courtesy of Eric Goding and his band of stalwarts in the kitchen.

As we were leaving, I spotted the restaurant’s old bandstand near the Tweetsie Trail bridge, still standing in its grove of trees.

An original fixture of Smokehouse BBQ Company, it seemed to be waiting to host some good old barbecue-eating music once again.

Now that would be something, wouldn’t it?