Monday, September 20, 2010
FOREST HILL: Off the Bone BBQ
5144 Mansfield Hwy
Forest Hill, TX 76119
Open Tues 11-8, W 11-6, Thur-Sat 11-8
Update 2010: It's been a while since Off The Bone was named best BBQ in DFW, and it was time for a check-up. Eddie and Marilyn were happy to see us, and it was immediately obvious that anonymous dining at this joint would be a thing of the past. Marilyn talked about how inundated they'd become after the article, and how they went through some growing pains trying to accommodate all the new business. Business is still good, but things are back to a more manageable level. One thing that helped tremendously was the addition of a second smoker. Capacity now meets demand.
When it came time to order, I couldn't pass up those ribs, and I'd never tried the chicken, so the menu was set. Okra and potato salad made for a good accompaniment to the smoky meat. Ribs were simply perfect, and some of the best I've had anywhere. The meat was perfectly tender, deeply smoky and well seasoned. Chicken was also incredibly smoky, even under the skin. The white meat was plenty moist, and the flavor was intense.
During the meal, Marilyn brought over their new-old sausage. After their sausage supplier passed away, they thought the recipe was gone for good. That is until they heard from the shop that had made the sausage, and also still had the recipe. They were so excited to have found the recipe again, and it's now back on the menu. It truly is some fine sausage, but then so is everything else here.
Update 2009: Eddie and Marilyn Brown run this little joint off I-20 just SE of Fort Worth which gets little fanfare from the local press. I could not find a single review other than one I published last fall. It was so good back then, I had to return and see how well it was holding up, and I was not disappointed.
A mixture of oak and pecan smoke seeps into every one of the plethora of meats available. Smokemasterone and I shared a smorgasbord of four different meats accompanied by a simple side of canned green beans and celery seed flecked cole slaw.
The most challenging protein for most DFW BBQ joints is brisket, but Eddie displays a deft hand at creating moist, tender slices with a beautiful black crust and pink smokeline. The oak flavor penetrated deep into this hunk of beef, all the way down to the well rendered line of fat at the base of the slices. The ribs had deep red meat beneath the well formed black crust. The meat needed a slight tug to come off the bone, which I enjoy, so the cliche "falling off the bone tender" thankfully does not apply. These ribs are smoked rather than baked or boiled.
We ordered both the hot links and sausage as sandwiches, and the warm buttered buns were delicious on their own. Beneath the bun were both black and red pepper flecked links of sausage with a coarse grind, little filler, and a casing that exhibited a good snap. The flavor of the sausage was unique and unfamiliar, so we inquired about its source. Marilyn informed us that the sausage was made especially for the joint by a friend in Cleburne. After more in depth questioning, she failed to reveal any other details about their source.
A well known Austin sausage shop was the source for the all beef hot links. Smokey Denmark's links have mild spice, but a bold beefy flavor was complimented by copious amounts of smoke to create enjoyable peppery links. Sliced like pickle spears, they quickly became the most popular finger food on the table.
Given the quality of meats across the board here on two consecutive visits, I'm stunned that this joint receives no buzz, especially since the 'cue fans in Ft. Worth are usually quick to point out their BBQ joints that are worth bragging about. Well this one belongs in that category, and it has made its way onto my list of regular metroplex joints.
2008: This former Dairy Queen houses one of the best BBQ joints in the Metroplex. The tall sign out front still has the ghost of past businesses in the background. In the parking lot is a pile of wood destined from the smoker with a "Keep Out" sign sitting on top. The sterile interior has little charm beyond the staff. The friendly cashier was happy to serve me just two ribs along with the sliced beef sandwich. Many places require you to order ribs by the whole or half rack. I wish I had ordered more.
The ribs here were some of the smokiest I've tasted. The crust was deeply brownish red. One bite through it exposed rosy red meat glistening with rendered fat. The juicy meat was intensely smoky and just as perfectly tender as the brisket. I could have eaten a full rack. The sliced beef was incredibly tender and flavorful. The smoke flavor from the deep black crust and thick smoke line was intense and satisfying. Slice after slice was consistently good, but the thin line of fat could have been better rendered. Can you tell it was hard to find a fault? Another nice touch was the hot buttered toast that was crispy and flavorful instead of soggy and mushy like most joints. Don't let the odd location or dated building keep you away, or you'll be missing a real treat. BBQ...that's what I like about Texas.
Posted by BBQ Snob at 7:05 PM
Each joint is judged on the essence of Texas 'cue...sliced brisket and pork ribs. Sausage is only considered if house made. Sauce is good, but good meat needs no adornment to satisfy. Each review can only be based on specific cuts of meat on that particular day. Finally, if the place fries up catfish or serves a caesar salad, then chances are they aren't paying enough attention to the pits, so we mostly steered clear.
-THE PROPHETS OF SMOKED MEAT
-THE PROPHETS OF SMOKED MEAT