I guess the name Smoke & Donuts is now something of a double entendre. It started – and continues to operate – as a food truck, specializing in barbecued smoked meats and, as the name promises, donuts.
But now owner Ian Russell is offering his food truck menu in a non-wheeled environment in partnership with a Mills 50 business called Belicoso Cigars & Cafe. Hence the double meaning of smoke. We won’t get into any Freudian allusions that might arise from cigars and donut holes – sometimes a donut is just a donut. And sometimes it very much is not, but I’ll come back to that.
First, you should know that the interior of Belicoso, which moved from Park Avenue to Mills Park, is a smoke-free environment. Although Florida statute allows standalone bars and businesses that deal primarily in tobacco sales to allow smoking – because in their ultimate wisdom, the legislators deemed workers in those establishments unworthy of a smoke-free work environment – with the addition of Smoke & Donuts’ food sales, Belicoso doesn’t qualify for the exemption. (For the record, any bar that takes in more than 10 percent of its sales from food cannot allow smoking indoors.)
But Belicoso took over the space that was previously Four Rebels American Kitchen & Bar and, before that, Segafredo coffee cafe. Both of those lasted about as long as a box of Tiparillos at an Edie Adams film festival. But the two-story structure does have ample patio space and an open-air rooftop lounge where cigar aficionados can light up.
Smoke & Donuts’ menu features barbecue standards available as platters or sandwiches, as well as BBQ Bowls, with the meats on top of a base of grits, rice or greens.
I selected the Pit Sampler, which netted me smoked turkey breast, brisket and pulled pork. All of the meats were well seasoned and moist, but I especially liked the pulled pork. The meats came with a side choice of cucumber and cabbage slaw or kettle chips. The slaw was a bit bland.
I also sampled a bowl with chopped brisket on rice, which also included a couple of slices of fried cheese and decorative drizzlings of crema and a mild sauce made with guajillo chilies. There were some diced jalapeños on top, too, but the overall flavor was mild. The brisket was as good as what I’d had on the platter.
The bowl was also topped with some onion rings, which I believe were there to subliminally suggest I order some donuts.
So I did. I got just a simple vanilla glazed cake donut and an elaborate creation called The Lou.
The simple donut was delicious, fresh-tasting with just the right amount of sweet glaze.
The Lou was one of the scariest donuts I’ve ever seen. It had a glaze made with bourbon and maple and was topped with chocolate chips, a broken up Heath bar and, for added measure, bits of brisket burnt ends. I could see the pieces of meat but I couldn’t taste them. That’s because there was so much sweetness from the chocolate chips and candy that any other flavors were obliterated. I’ll stick with the simple glaze.
I ordered at the bar and requested my food to go. The pleasant young woman who took the order was back in no time with everything neatly bagged to go.
Smoke & Donuts is inside Belicoso Cigars & Cafe, 1618 N. Mills ave., Orlando. It is open for lunch and dinner daily, brunch on weekends. The phone number is 407-476-1591.