Chef Phillip Milton’s got a full plate.
With the addition of his latest endeavor — The Smoke Pitt — the Michigan native now runs five pop-up eateries within Galley Group, the Pittsburgh-based food hall development, management and advisory company.
“I love the opportunity it provides to test different concepts,” he says. “I can’t think of anywhere else in the country, or the world for that matter, where a chef can have five ideas and try them all.”
There are two Which Came First? locations — at Federal Galley on the North Side and Detroit’s Fort Street Galley. Then there’s Table (also in Detroit), along with Home and his latest venture, The Smoke Pitt, both at Smallman Galley in the Strip District.
As you might have guessed, this newest addition is a barbecue joint.
Milton bought a small smoker, filled it with hickory wood and fired it up two days before The Smoke Pitt’s Nov. 6 opening. It’s been running nonstop ever since.
The equipment can hold up to 80 pounds of brisket, pork butts, chicken, ribs and kielbasa. Customers can go hog wild with one of four sandwiches, such as the Pig Aht, a swine-centric meal stacked with pork belly, pulled pork, pickles, chow-chow and mustard sauce.
Want to ditch the bun? Opt for Meat and Three, a half-pound of smoked protein served with three sides. Milton says there will be a special meat offered each day. This week, he’ll smoke big turkey legs in anticipation of Thanksgiving.
He’s most excited about the brunch menu, which is served Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Milton takes traditional breakfast favorites and puts a carnivorous spin on them.
The Pulled Pork Hash comes with crispy potatoes, candied bacon, sweet peppers, onions and two made-to-order eggs. Brisket Benedict features a buttermilk biscuit, smoked brisket, soft poached eggs and barbecue Hollandaise sauce on top. Order a Waffleque and you’ll get a sweet potato waffle topped with your choice of smoked meat, pecan butter and bourbon maple syrup.
Milton, who spends at least one day a week in Detroit, is having fun experimenting with different cuisines. Among his plans: He hopes to franchise brick-and-mortar locations for his popular fried chicken concept, Which Came First?
After spending years working in upscale restaurants, Milton tells us he’s enjoying the fun and freedom of making down-home meals.
“My background is in fine dining,” he says. “When I opened Home in 2018, that’s where my mind was. My wife said to me, ‘You’re in Pittsburgh in the Galley. Cook the food people want to eat.’”