Sunday, October 24, 2010
FORT WORTH: Smokey's BBQ
5300 E. Lancaster
Ft. Worth, TX 76112
Open M-Thur 11-9, F-Sat 11-11, Sun 11-4
Update: Brent Deen has moved on to another location in the Deen family located in Kaufman, Texas. Not to worry, the deft pitmaster Paul Calhoun is still reigning over things in the kitchen and has been given the new management post. My last visit here was yesterday during a BBQ tour that I led through Fort Worth. Paul was there to explain his smoking procedures and what makes these ribs and brisket so special. I knew they were tour worthy after several trips which all featured stellar 'cue, including one last month where I laughed in the face of common practice and placed my order 3 minutes before closing time. This review is based on that visit.
There were a few folks left in the dining room, and I assured the cashier that I would eat fast. After the first bite of brisket, I was chomping down the rest of it with gluttonous abandon. The meat was perfectly smoky, moist and lined with silky fat. The meat could have been a bit more tender, but this is great brisket. Ribs are just as good. The sweet and spicy rub creates a nice caramelization. This does keep a nice smoky bark from forming, but the flavor is distinct and addictive. The meat comes cleanly from the bone of these spare ribs, but there's nothing falling onto the plate.
Normally sides aren't a big item in my ordering, but cole slaw, potato salad and beans are available for self-service on a buffet table along with standard BBQ condiments. All of these items are made in house, and the creamy coleslaw still had a nice crunch, and the beans were robust, smoky, and full of sausage chunks. A semi-mashed version of potato salad is also worth the stomach space. After I was done stuffing myself, I couldn't help but grab a slice of that buttermilk pie. Also made in house, this rich pie is the perfect balance for all that savory meat. As I made my way out the door, I noticed that others still lingered. I felt good knowing I'd kept my promise of a fast meal, and that Smokey's kept up their end of the bargain with great food all around, even right at closing time.
2009: Smokey's might be some of the best BBQ in the area. I arrived just three weeks after Brent and Eddie Deen reopened this former Fort Worth institution. Brent was running the place when I stopped in on a Saturday at opening time. I ordered up a "Cool Hand Luke" which includes sliced brisket, ribs, hot links and two sides. The plate that arrived was picture perfect.
Ribs had a salt and pepper rub and a sweet glaze. Smokiness permeated the moist combination of rendered fat and meat which required a slight tug from the teeth to separate it from the bone. These were excellent ribs. The brisket was nearly as good with a deep smokeline just below the flecks of black pepper clinging to the black crust. The texture of the meat was exemplary. The slices were both firm and tender, but had not reached the point of falling apart or being mushy. The beef had a robust flavor, but could have been just a tad smokier. Hot links from Costco had jalapeno flecks dotting the beefy links. They were sliced lengthwise allowing the eater to enjoy the snappy casing surrounding the juicy meat. Sides were adequate if not memorable.
After enjoying my meal, I sat and talked with pit master Brent Deen. Their first Sunday they had just two customers. Since the meat is smoked ahead of time it must be consumed by the end of the day, so Brent held an employee rib eating contest to build morale and get rid of some extra inventory. I inquired about smoking methods, and he informed me that the brisket is smoked over hickory in an Oyler pit while ribs and sausage are also smoked over hickory, but in a Southern Pride smoker. He insists that he uses copious amounts of wood in the gas fired Southern Pride, and the results seem to support that. I don't care what brand of smoker he's using as long as the meats come out this good every time.
Posted by BBQ Snob at 7:44 AM
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