Sea Smoke BBQ has been open for a month and still has some kinks to work out, but it is well worth a visit.

The new restaurant, whose motto is “Save a lobster, eat BBQ,” is reminiscent of the many small neighborhood barbecue joints in the South that serve barbecue by the pound, with no frills and plenty of sides.

My first visit so excited me — good pulled pork! In Maine! — that I went back twice more. I found the food to be a bit uneven, but hopefully this will settle down in the weeks to come because when Sea Smoke is on, it’s really on.

Let’s start with the over-the-top deliciousness that was my first visit. Sea Smoke offers sandwiches made from its pulled pork and sliced brisket ($6.99 each) or chopped chicken ($6.49), served on Texas toast with one side. But I was most interested in trying the pulled pork and wanted leftovers, so I bought a full pound for the bargain price of $7.47. (The price has apparently gone up since then to $11.49.) You can also buy smoked brisket and smoked chicken or sausage by the pound.

To go with the pulled pork, I bought a side of baked beans. I wanted to try the cornbread casserole and collard greens, but they were out of both. This was a major disappointment, but one that was alleviated when I tasted the pulled pork, which was full of smoke flavor and so incredibly tender it almost didn’t need chewing. (Just kidding. Please chew your food.)

The meat had plenty of bark, the flavorful crust that makes pulled pork so addictive. And to top it off, there was a well-balanced barbecue sauce that was not too sweet, not too tangy. I usually don’t drown my pulled pork in sauce, but honestly, this sauce was so good, I found myself wishing I had asked for more.

The barbecue beans were also very good, flavored with bits of onion, green pepper and bacon.

All the sides at Sea Smoke BBQ cost $2.49 for a small serving or $4.49 for a large. Other sides include macaroni and cheese, cole slaw, hand-cut fries, sweet potato casserole, cornbread or Texas toast, and Brunswick stew or chili. The cornbread casserole has been pulled off the menu because, apparently, it was not holding up well in take-out.

BBQ plates are also on the menu, with a choice of meats that includes pulled pork, brisket, chicken or sausage. One meat and two sides will set you back $8.99; two meats and two sides are $11.99.

Sea Smoke also serves baby back and St. Louis-style ribs by the rack ($18.99 for a rack), or on a plate that includes a half-rack of ribs and two sides for $14.99 or a half-rack of ribs, one meat and two sides for $18.99.

On my second visit, I tried the St. Louis-style ribs and found them to be a bit dry and, really, unremarkable. But oh, the collard greens. They had not run out this time, and I could have gone back into the kitchen and eaten the whole pot. Collard greens done right are one of the great pleasures in life. These were tender and had a little heat to them. There was just enough bits of meat floating around in the container to let you know these had been done right, slow cooked with pork for plenty of flavor.

When I went back the third time, it was mostly for the collard greens, and this time they were disappointing. Did someone else make them, or were they just in a hurry because they had run out? These greens were nowhere near as tender and flavorful, and the heat was way over the top, overwhelming any flavor of the greens instead of enhancing it. I’m not even sure they had been cooked with any pork. You certainly couldn’t taste it.

This wasn’t the only inconsistency I found, which I chalk up to this being a new place and they’re still finding their legs. The corn bread I initially tried, for example, was a little dry and could have come from a box; the next time, they were better, but now much too sweet. They tasted more like sugar than corn.

Overall, I’d give this place five stars, when it’s on, for the pulled pork, beans and collard greens. Give Sea Smoke a try and give it some time, because we need a place like this in the Portland area.


The Features staff anonymously samples meals for about $7.