Smalley’s Caribbean BBQ and Pirate Bar


We love BBQ in general so were excited to try Tim McKee’s (of La Belle Vie and Solera fame) new restaurant in Stillwater. However, once there we quickly realized that even though this food has the word BBQ in it, its the “Jamaican jerk” that really defines what it is. The food tastes nothing like BBQ we’ve ever had so it was a truly unique experience.

The meats are marinated in jerk seasoning and cooked over pimento wood (pimento trees are where allspice comes from) so it has a very unique taste to it. The setting is similar to other BBQ restaurants where you get to choose various different meat preparations such as ribs, brisket, pork shoulder, or chicken along with a variety of sides. However, the differentiator is the jerk spice that is used. Some of the sides such as the Curried Vegetables in Jamaican spices, Rice and Beans with Cilantro and Red Onion, and Spicy Coleslaw have Caribbean influences. The menu also consists of three different types of Chicken Wings and\ a Pirate Burger which can be customized with a dozen toppings. Four different BBQ sauces are available – a house-made BBQ sauce and three Jerk sauces – Mild, Medium, and Scotchies (Hot!). They have one of the largest rum selections in town…doing justice to the “Pirate bar” in their name. Their specialty cocktails list is also great…we really liked the Blackberry Mojito, it had a nice minty flavor and a very discernable blackberry flavor.

423 Main St
Stillwater, MN
(651) 439-5375
Recommendation: Good. Smalley’s brings a flavor of the Caribbean to Minnesota by offering an authentic Jamaican BBQ experience…rum and all. You have to go to Smalley’s with an open mind… if you go expecting traditional BBQ flavors, you will be sorely disappointed.

Our favorites were the Slow Smoked Beef Brisket and Pork Shoulder. Both were tender, falling off the bone, and nicely spiced. The Grilled Chicken came with a beautiful blackened skin and the inside was pretty moist. However, it lacked flavor. The Ribs, which we were most looking forward to, were very disappointing. The look takes some getting used it because they come out completely black (charred). Our server explained that it was the molasses based marinade that gave them that look. However, even once we got over the look, the meat was hard to pull off and was really dry. No amount of sauce was able to fix this dish. The BBQ Pulled Pork sandwich was also a disappointment. The meat was bland but at least this dish was somewhat edible after lathering it with sauce. The Mac and Cheddar and Beer Battered Fries were good (note that the BBQ dishes come with your choice of two sides). You can ask for a side of the Roasted Hot Peppers with salt and lime (complimentary) to raise the heat level further if you dare. For dessert, the Drunken Chocolate Banana cake was excellent. While Smalley’s offered a unique BBQ experience, the restaurant didn’t impress us enough to drive all the way down to the Stillwater for a second round.