Saturday, March 26, 2011
DALLAS: Lockhart Smokehouse
400 West Davis
Dallas, TX 75208
Open Daily 10:30-meat runs out
Update: It's good people, and it's $15 per pound good too. Three visits over the last three weeks have confirmed it. Brisket has morphed from very good to nearly perfect over those last three visits since my last review. The sausage just keeps getting better too, although it's not quite to the level of making an all-beef convert out of me. My affection for the clod here is well documented, and the pork chop has always been top notch. The problem for me is with the big and meaty spare ribs whose inconsistency is frustrating.
On a lunch trip with a friend I was spotted immediately. They were offering rib tip samples with every order, so I grabbed a couple along with my brisket, clod and sausage. These rib tips had a wet looking sheen on them from the salty rub bringing out the moisture of the meat. These tips had good smoke and adequate tenderness that made me hope for some rib improvement on my next visit. Brisket on this visit had all the great flavor qualities of a top notch brisket, but was a tad dry and chewy. An inquisitive manager was polite with his questioning, and genuinely interested on improving his product.
I dropped off a decoy to order for me on the next visit in hopes that there would be no specialty cuts. Anonymity of food critics is a well known aspiration, but I have a small advantage in that the food type I write about cannot be quickly remedied. The brisket that I'm served has probably been smoking for upwards of 10 hours, but there are better cuts than others on that brisket, and I wanted to be sure I wasn't getting preferential treatment. The meat that came out in the paper that ran clear with juices was just as good as the previous visit. Ribs again had an odd but good flavor from a rub heavy on aromatics including coriander and a dozen or so other ingredients. No matter the seasoning, the meat was tough to separate from the bone, and simply tasted underdone. All of that powder-heavy rub also hindered a nice crust from forming. I was going to stop at this point, but a friend invited me to dinner the day before I planned to post the review, so I thought I'd hold off.
What resulted at dinner service were the same chewy ribs and some of the best brisket I have eaten anywhere, and the finest I have eaten in Dallas. The end cut from the point is a fatty crusty delicacy that was given its proper due here. After one bite, the three tablemates were fighting over the rest. Luckily we had plenty of sliced point meat to move onto. The fat that remained on each of these slices was so richly flavored, intensely smoky, and perfectly silky that it was consumed more quickly than the meat. Each new bite built on the last until the hefty portion of meat had been annihilated. The brisket from this meal could stand against any I've had at Kreuz Market, which is why I've wrestled so much with the star rating. Based on the inconsistent ribs it's tough to go beyond three stars, but with brisket being done this well before they're even two months old, I've got to give it a strong recommendation for anyone looking for great BBQ in Dallas.
2/25/11: Last Friday I went to Lockhart Smokehouse to give it another try, and I wasn't alone. Normally I try to be as unassuming as possible, but I had a cameraman with me on this trip. Just about everyone took notice as I made my way to the back, and I was immediately spotted before I placed my order. When I asked for a rib from the guy at the counter, he yelled back to the cutter "One Full Custom rib, please!"
As Turk kept filming away for a recent story in the local Advocate Magazine, I kept taking down large hunks of meat. Ends cuts from the clod were even better than the first trip with plenty of smoke and crispy, fatty nuggets of concentrated flavor. The ends cut pork chop weighed in at 3/4 pound alone, and had great smoke and flavor, but really needed more smoker time to tenderize. Ribs were underdone and tough, but the rub flavor was more subdued, and the smokiness was certainly there. These guys just need more work to be considered good ribs.
Besides the clod, the sausage was the day's best item. It was incredibly juicy (as seen in the video above) with great snap and great beefy flavor. This link had taken to the smoke much better than the previous visit, and if they keep doing it this well the marketing of the Kreuz name will be more than just for show. I plan to return soon for another taste of the brisket and to see if they'll take my solicited rib critiques to heart.
Rating - Pending
2/2/2011: Soon. That was the preemtive answer posted on the doors of Lockhart Smokehouse for the past few weeks. This morning, that sign came down and was replaced with a "Now Open" sign. Dallasites rejoiced, and a few of them even braved the icy roads to try it on their first day of business.
Certainly this is the most anticipated BBQ joint to open in our fair city...ever. Several meat preview posts have hit the web, and it was given a mention in the New York Times before it was even open for business. The one and only Roy Perez, pitmaster at the heralded Kreuz Market, acted as mentor to chef made pitmaster, Tim McLaughlin, and several months ago they announced their plan to serve the famous sausage from Kreuz (which just arrived yesterday via FedEx). Everything was set for the opening, and excitement had built. Everything, that is, but a register full of cash. Inside the doors this morning I found a dozen or so folks milling around. It was past the 10:30 opening time, but the bank lost electricity so they couldn't get the cash they needed. By 10:50 they opened the line for credit cards only. This being Dallas, everyone was monetarily prepared.
Trying to be inconspicuous, I ordered a little of everything. Meat prices are listed by the half pound, (brisket is $15/pound, $2 higher than the best in the state at Franklin BBQ) but they'll slice you off a quarter pound of any sliced meat. Meat is sliced to order on a large table behind the ordering counter then weighed on brown packaging paper. This paper didn't stand up well against any of the moist meats, so they may need to go to true butcher paper for everyone to make it to their table without any dropping incidents. I made it to my table with Forrest, a loyal FCGBBQ reader who braved the weather as well with his wife, and he promptly spilled his Coke in my lap. It wasn't his fault. He was trying to pry apart a slice of the tough brisket and his hand slipped. This brisket had good smoky flavor and was well seasoned, but needed more time (maybe a few hours) on the smoker to tenderize and render some of that fat. Ribs had the same pros and cons, but the end cut from the pork chop made me forget all about it. Moist, tender and smoky with just the right amount of fatty goodness made this a go-to cut. The aforementioned jalapeno sausage was also a winner with plenty of heat any very little greasy filler.
The best cut by far was the uncommon clod. While more familiar to Central Texas BBQ fans, this is a cut not used anywhere else in Dallas. I was happy to see it on their menu when it was posted a few days ago, and was even happier to eat it. Well smoked, perfectly tender and immensely flavorful, it was good enough to get more to-go. Chicken, which isn't my favorite smoked meat was fine, and the deviled eggs which use a different meat in the fillings that rotate daily was worth ordering again. I realize that I'm posting this just as the lunch crowd is dying down on their first day, so a rating won't be in order until after a few visits over the next couple of weeks. What I will say is that this place is doing it right. They smoke with all wood in a Dallas made Bewley pit, and they know the importance of their prime product - meat. They showed some real potential today which should embolden the hope for Dallasites salivating for true Central Texas style BBQ that can be found without a four hour drive. I'll happily be back.
Posted by BBQ Snob at 7:31 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