Thursday, April 14, 2011
FORT WORTH: Uncle Willie's BBQ
1506 Miller Ave
Fort Worth, TX 76105
Open Tues-Sat 11-7
Update: This joint is CLOSED.
2011: Good smokers seem to run in the Brown family. I've had a much publicized love affair with Off the Bone in Forest Hill where Eddie Brown is owner and pitmaster. A few months back I popped into Uncle Willie's to see just what had replaced the old Adam's Rib location. After getting a heaping plate of brisket and St. Louis ribs, I noticed a few staffers with Off the Bone shirts on. A few questions later, and I learned that "Willie" was Eddie Brown's brother, Willie Brown. They had honed their craft together at Off the Bone, and it was time for Willie to branch out.
A few bites in, and I knew there was solid potential. The brisket was a bit dry, but nicely smoky with just enough fat left on each slice. The fat was still chewy, and the ribs too tough, but that great flavor was shining through. It was just two weeks after their opening at that point, so I decided to make a return visit. In between visits, Bud Kennedy beat me to the first review, but after the second visit, I now know this joint deserves some serious media coverage.
Perfect brisket was my reward on the subsequent visit. Pull apart tender, beautifully seasoned with salt and smoke with fat rendered down so well I didn't want to leave a morsel uningested. The crust was a luring shiny black, and cracked under my teeth. I was actually saddened to find only four slices, but with four ribs in this combo plate, I had plenty left to gnaw on. While Off the bone uses baby back ribs, Willie has opted for the juicier St. Louis cut. Save the need for a bit more time on the smoker to render out all that fat, these ribs were stupendous. A light rub didn't hinder a good crust formation, and the meat was tender and flavorful. There's no doubt these suckers are smoked with 100% wood. Sausage is the same as his brother's, and is just as good. One item that Eddie may have the upper hand with is sliced pork. The pork tenderloin at Off the Bone is flawless, but these pork shoulder slices were spongy in texture with tough lines of fat. The good flavor and smoke were there, but they needed more love.
Most of the love comes from Willie's deft hand at using his new homemade smoker. He had it specially built for the location, and it stands prominently in the kitchen. A visit back to this room will leave your clothes saturated with oak smoke for the remainder of the day, so beware the behind the scene tour if you have plans afterwards. With a tour or not, this is nothing short of a regional BBQ destination. Willie has risen beyond simple apprentice and has made a smudged smoky mark of his own on Fort Worth's barbecue scene.
Posted by BBQ Snob at 7:41 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