Thursday, April 16, 2009

Eddie Deen's Ranch

DALLAS: Eddie Deen's Ranch
944 South Lamar
Dallas, TX 75202
Open for Events Only

The only way to try this joint just south of the Dallas Convention Center is to attend and event at the Ranch, or go to an Eddie Deen catered event. Deen boasts presidential clients, so I was excited when I was invited to a political event at the ranch. My first impression of the decor was Texas kitch. Sadly, the fake old west main street facades inside must be what defines "Texas" to too many out-of-town conventioneers. The line snaked around to buffet tables full of cole slaw, potato salad, brisket, sausage and chicken. I sampled a bit of each meat, and none were a standout. The chicken was moist and tender, but had just a touch of smoke flavor, and not much else. The sausage was straight grocery store grade, and barely deserves a mention. Brisket wasn't terrible and requires a caveat. Brisket is best sliced just before it reaches your plate, but in a catering environment, brisket needs to be sliced ahead of time for quick serving. This creates dry slices, but this can be overcome with superior flavor. These dry slices were missing that superior flavor, along with any smokiness, even in the crust. The texture was a bit tough, and the slices just weren't very enjoyable. My guess is that the fanfare is due to the fact that Eddie Deen can cook up decent, if not great BBQ for a huge crowd, and not many folks can do that. Just don't expect exceptional 'cue if you're invited to the Ranch.



Columbaire said...

If you're going to Eddie's to enjoy what he can do, just go to Terrell, get there before noon on a weekday, and buy weight portions of his stuff - they'll sell it that way.

Brisket rates as well as anything east of the Trinity. Sausage comes out of Tyler and is pretty good - nice coarseness to the texture, right balance of seasonings, not oversalted. Ribs are consistent, medium sized, best early in the day like the brisket - too long for any of them under a cover means steam. Other meats - seasonal chicken and turkey - are up to par. So are the sides - potato salad and slaw - not your straight SYSCO fare. Trouble is if you've had Eddie's food at its best from the Ranch Hand, you're going to be expecting that every time you see his name on food.It just doesn't work that way.

If you're expecting barbecue in Dallas, it's not far away - 45 minutes or so. If you think you got barbecue in Dallas, you need education on the topic. Just ask anyone who knows. We're not unfriendly, but when we want barbecue, we go hungry in Dallas.

Anonymous said...

Disagree with the last comment entirely. If you're going hungry in Dallas, you're looking in the wrong place.

While the pickins in Big D for barbecue are indeed must try The Baby Back Shack in south Dallas or Meshack's (my favorite and a 4-star on this site)on Avenue B in downtown Garland. These places will change your mind about Dallas Barbecue. You can hit either one of these easily if you live north or south of town and you don't have to drive the 45 minutes to Terrel.

The trick in Dallas isn't necessarily knowing where to go outside of town to find memorable's where to find the food IN this metroplex of 8 million people. There are still plenty of skills taught down through the generations here in the city limits and some of them...if we're lucky...are sold.

Columbaire said...

Food Channel does tasty ribs in the oven. In Kentucky, they love mutton (taste their chili and you'll understand). Pot roast, marinated chicken, shredded pork, and bologna are all passed off as barbecue. That doesn't indict them as food, but it doesn't make them barbecue. Braunschweiger isn't foie gras and margarine isn't butter.

Barbecue is brisket and choose your weapon:live oak, pecan, mesquite. Creditable barbecue is not in Dallas. Cite the DFW metroplex and Fort Worth enters (changes) the equation. The existential phenomenon of re-entering Texas upon exiting Dallas County in most directions (Plano/Frisco being an exception) accounts for this. Most of today's Dallas either grew up in it's bubble or immigrated from places where barbecue is as real as J.R.Ewing (a vegetarian).

Most everyone from the Midwest, the other coasts, and Dogpatch will be perfectly happy with Dallas' fare and that's fine. They'll find good company visiting the Book Depository and Southfork often and plan regular dates at S_n_y B_y_n's.

When all this stops being true, we all need to know. Meantime, let's hope gas prices stay down.


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.