Saturday, October 31, 2009

Bluebonnet Bar-B-Q

DALLAS: Bluebonnet Bar-B-Q (Whole Foods)
2118 Abrams Road
Dallas, TX 75214
Open Daily 8-10

Update: A quick trip to grab some groceries quickly turned into a smoked meat feast when I passed by the Bluebonnet Bar-B-Q counter inside Whole Foods. A variety of smoked meats from their Southern Pride smoker are available at this counter, and as I waited for my order, I noticed the other delicacies at the seafood counter that are also smoked in house.

Hungry for beef, I started with the brisket. Each slice was thick and loaded with poorly rendered fat. A full third of each slice found its way to the trash, but what remained was very good. A black crust surrounded richly flavored smokey meat, It could have been more tender, but the flavor was great.

Monstrously thick beef ribs are also well smoked. While the smokey flavor didn't penetrate the full thickness, it was evident in the meat just beneath the crust. That crust had gotten a bit tough from too much time under the heat lamp, but the meat inside was tender, moist and bursting with beefy flavor.

I can't ever get enough smoked protein, so I opted for three choices from the seafood counter. "Smoked Green Chili Habanero Salmon Jerky" was dry as expected with a concentrated fishiness that wasn't pleasing. Their was lingering heat, but nothing could stand up against that fishy flavor. Smoking brought out a more mild flavor in the oysters which were meltingly tender despite their looks.

The best option from the seafood counter had to be the "Smoked Salmon Candy". Thick filet of salmon had been smoked with a thick sugary rub. The fishiness was more mild, and the sweet and smokey flavor complimented this tender fish well.

Given the plethora of quality smoked meat options at this Whole Foods location, it's not just a place for groceries anymore.

Rating ***

March 2009: The newest Whole Foods Market has opened in the Lakewood Neighborhood of Dallas, and inside they offer 'cue in their Bluebonnet BBQ Smokehouse. The meat is smoked with hickory on the premises, and they offer quite a variety.

On the day I visited, I could choose from sliced and chopped brisket, beef ribs, baby back pork ribs, St. Louis pork ribs, pulled pork, and sausage. I ordered a three meat plate with the sliced brisket, beef ribs and St. Louis ribs alongside cole slaw and beans. The server was not quite comfortable wielding the carving knife, but I have to cut him some slack given that the store has now been open for two days. He inexplicably removed the bone from my beef ribs and sliced it. I prefer to use the bone as a handle rather than eating my ribs with a knife and fork. The pork rib bones were left intact. The brisket was sliced from the point, so they were loaded with fat. I asked for some crusty edge slices that were a bit leaner.

The best and freshest meat on the plate were the deboned beef ribs. Moist and tender meat was hidden below an excellent crust from the salt and black pepper rub, and the fat that remained was well rendered. The pork ribs held little smoke flavor, and had dried out a bit under the heat lamp. The rub added a good peppery flavor, but the crust had not held up well during storage. All the fat had been trimmed from the meat, so it also lacked the moistness that liquid collagen can add. Crust was trimmed from the slices of fatty brisket, so the smokiness was completely missing. The fat was not well rendered, and there was just too much to work around. The leaner crusty slices were a bit smokier, but these briskets needed more time being bathed in hickory smoke. For those who like sauce, Whole Foods has chosen wisely. Each of the meats benefited greatly from a slather of Austin's Own brand sauce that was served on the side. The cole slaw was an sweet and tangy variety with fresh cabbage, carrots and onions. The beans tasted more like you'd expect from a Mexican restaurant than from a BBQ joint. This may not be the best 'cue in town, but it's nice to have a solid option just down the street.

Rating **

No comments:


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.