Friday, December 31, 2010

Old House BBQ

380 Lake Park Rd.

Lewisville, TX 75057


Open Daily 11-9

After the Hickory Pit closed at this location earlier this year I kept my eyes on it to see if a new joint would open in its place. As we traveled down I-35 I noticed the new sign, and made a quick Texas U-turn at the next exit much to my wife's chagrin. Upon entering the joint I first noticed the myriad side item choices on display. There was actually an option for fresh fruit which is unusual for your standard BBQ joint. The three-meat plate was reasonable, so I went for sausage, brisket and ribs.

Sausage was a cut above standard commercial sausages. It had decent smokiness, nice spice and a good snap. Ribs suffered from being heavily basted in sauce then being wrapped for storage. This created a baked-on sauce flavor along with way overcooked meat with little smokiness and no remaining crust. Dry brisket was on the other end of the moisture spectrum. It also had little smoke and little flavor other than roast beef. The meat was tender enough, but it just needed bolder flavors to be enjoyable without the sauce.

Rating **
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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

BBQ in the News

Update: Ruby's re-opened this Monday. (earlier) A fire on Sunday, December 19th closed down Ruby's in Austin for the time being. Hopefully they'll complete the $25,000 in repairs and reopen soon.

None other than Anthony Bourdain weighed in on our local BBQ Gate in his end of year review. I think he took my side. Thanks to the Observer for letting me know.

The Big Texan still has the 72 ounce steak challenge, but they're also adding a progressive team rib eating competition this year. Get your team of four entered soon since the competition begins January 11th.

I wrote about Mangalitsa pork early last year, then I was able to use some to develop a recipe with pork belly and oysters a few weeks ago. Now the New York Times is betting that it'll be the next 'it' pig. I think Morgan Weber at Revival Meats in Yoakum, Texas would agree.

A new BBQ joint opened in Ohio with possibly the worst name I could think of for a serious BBQ joint. 'Fast Casual BBQ' opened recently serving what they bill as Ohio style BBQ.

Finally, does anyone know who John Espy is? He's local to DFW and has done a BBQ list for Dallas. I'm just always curious about other BBQ fanatics.

- BBQ Snob

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Jake's Rib

OKLAHOMA: Jake's Rib
100 Ponderosa Dr

Chickasha, OK 73018


Open M-Thur 10:30-9, F-Sat 10:30-10, Sun 10:30-8

Jake's was the last of nine stops in Oklahoma over a few day's time, and it wasn't all that I hoped for. I'd heard that Jake's was one of the best in the state, and that their portions were enormous. After checking out the Christmas lights just up the road, the whole family parked while I ran in for an expensive to-go order. A small two-meat plate cost $16. It came with two sides and had marginally larger meat portions than I'm used to in a $10 combo plate, but I didn't see an overall value.

While there was plenty of meat, it can't be considered one of my better meals. The brisket had a singular consistency reminiscent of lunch meat. All crust and fat had been completely trimmed. The smokering was an odd shade of pink and abnormally thick. The slices were also abnormally large from being sliced on an extreme bias, but the smokiness and overall flavor were anything but bold. Ribs were a bit better, but they oddly serve a mix of St. Louis ribs and spares. Each rib glistened with a light brown sheen, and the most powerful flavor was salt. As with the brisket, smoke was also missing here. At least the okra was good and crispy.

Rating **
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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Bad Brad's Bar-B-Q

OKLAHOMA: Bad Brad's Bar-B-Q
700 W Main St

Yukon, OK 73099


Open M-Thur 11-8:30, F-Sat 11-9

Walking through the doors of this joint it smelled as if a campfire had just been doused out. The dining room was filled with the smell and it actually became a bit distracting. A three meat plate was offered, so we got some brisket, ribs and pulled pork once again. Fried green beans were offered as a side, so we had to order it along with the pumpkin cobbler advertised on the sign.

While the green beans made for a decent snack, and the pumpkin cobbler was a good ending, the rest of the meal was subpar. Oddly enough, with all the smoke in the air, none of it made it into the meat. Pulled pork was moist enough, but could have just as well been baked. The brisket was full of unrendered fat and trimmed beyond recognition. The flavor was simply of roast beef. Ribs had no bark and little flavor outside of the heavily applied rub. The meat was a bit tough and needed more time on the smoker. After the meal, a trip to the bathroom should have come with a warning sign. I had to plug my nose not for any sort of fecal smells but because the level of smoke in the room made it seem as if the smoker was vented directly into the bathroom. It made me wonder even more how so little of this smoke was evident in the meat.

Rating *
Bad Brad's Bar-B-Que of Yukon on Urbanspoon

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Monday, December 27, 2010

Swadley's Bar-B-Q (Original)

OKLAHOMA: Swadley's Bar-B-Q (Original)
4000 N Rockwell Ave

Bethany, OK 73008


Open Daily 10:45-9

After a long drive to Mustang in search of the original Swadley's we learned that we'd pegged the wrong location as the original. The manager there explained that the original was just outside of Oklahoma City off Route 66, so we grabbed a go cup for our iced tea and set out for Bethany.

Since we'd tried nearly every option in Mustang, we thought we'd just compare the basics -brisket, ribs and pulled pork. You can order any size serving you want here, so we opted for 1/4 of each meat with a few ribs.

After ingesting ridiculous amounts of BBQ over the last few years I've developed enough of a honed palate to recognize when meat has been smoked over wood, gas, or mesquite coals. I've even been known to identify the wood used in the smoker, but not until this visit had I been able to successfully pinpoint the brand of smoker being used. Before inquiring I told my brother-in-law that I was certain an Ole Hickory smoker was in the back. The server acted coy saying she wasn't supposed to tell, but I confirmed with the owner by e-mail that an Ole Hickory was in use, and I was pleased.

Besides the brisket being a bit more smokey and the rib glaze being just a bit more sweet and moist, the meats were identical to the Mustang location. That bodes well for quality control, and these meats were certainly of high quality. Of all the chains I've tried in OKC, I'd have to put this one at the top.

Rating ***
Swadley's Bar-B-Q on Urbanspoon

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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Swadley's Bar-B-Q (Mustang)

OKLAHOMA: Swadley's Bar-B-Q (Mustang)
308 E Mustang Rd

Mustang, OK 73064


Open Daily 10:45-9

Swadley's is undoubtedly corporate barbecue. The barn-like design on the exterior and the kitschy decorations on the interior just make it look like they're trying too hard to create that down home feel. Orders are taken at the counter as you walk in, but all of the meat is hidden away back in the kitchen. Drinks, sauce and eventually your food are delivered to your table by a server. I made my way to this location with my brother-in-law during a day long meat fest, and we mistakenly made this a stop because my poor research led me to believe this was the original location. It's actually the newest at less than a year old.

For our order we went for the "True Sampler" which offers a taste of all their meats. This is quite a deal at $14 and includes sliced brisket, pork ribs, turkey, ham, pulled pork, sausage and hot links. A side of corn was previously frozen as expected with little flavor, but the fried okra was good and crispy. The ribs needed more smoke, but they were a good place to start for moist tender meat. The rub had a hint of sweetness and the overall flavor was good on these spare ribs. Brisket had the required smokiness, but the slices were trimmed of all fat leaving them a bit dry. A dunk in the one of the three sauces (original, spicy or sweet) remedied the dryness. Slices of real turkey were plenty moist with great flavor and decent smoke. Moist and smoky pulled pork was exemplary. Fat, meat and plenty of bark mixed together to create forkfuls of happiness. Both hot links and sausages were mass produced, fat filled, finely ground and just boring. They had no memorable qualities. What was memorable was the great and attentive service. It's a nice touch especially when the meal is only halfway through and you need more of that great sweet tea. Now, if I could just get a bit more of that pork.

Rating ***
Swadley's Bar-B-Q on Urbanspoon

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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Billy Sims Barbecue

OKLAHOMA: Billy Sims Barbecue
6401 Northwest Expressway # 122

Oklahoma City, OK 73132


Open Sun-Thur 11-9, F-Sat 11-10

Another YouTube sensation, Billy Sims finds himself a long way from evading defenses out of the backfield. He instead does an odd spoof of American Idol to advertise his BBQ joint. Don't dare click on the link unless you want the repeating phrase of "Boomer 'cue on my plate" stuck in your head.

Everything about Boomer 'cue seemed to aim straight for the average mark. Both green beans and baked beans were dumped straight from a can into the warming trays while. Brisket was devoid of smoky flavor, but it wasn't surprising given the fact that an Ole Hickory pit was perched just behind the counter, but the interior of the place barely smelled of smoke. My guess is the gas burners are doing all the work in this giant smoker, and not much wood is being added for flavor. Ribs did have plenty of flavor from a thick rub with a hint of sweetness. These thin ribs were overcooked and a bit dry, but the overall flavor was pretty good. Pulled pork was also very average with just a hint of smoke and decent flavoring. It may have been the best thing on the plate, but it needed a sauce boost to make it worthwhile. Don't spend too much time on your choice between using hot or mild sauce as neither myself or my brother-in-law could find a hint of difference between the two. I probably won't find more Boomer 'cue on my plate anytime soon.

Rating **
Billy Sims BBQ on Urbanspoon

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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Mr. Sprigg's Real Pit Bar-B-Q

OKLAHOMA: Mr. Sprigg's Real Pit Bar-B-Q
1017 S Air Depot Blvd

Midwest City, OK 73110


Open Daily 10:30-9

Mr. Spriggs gained national appeal because of a catchy BBQ love song that's made the rounds on Youtube and even found it's way into a John C. Reilly guest appearance on the Jimmy Fallon show. This was a place that seemed to have a sense of humor about advertising and the restaurant business, so when I visited I was expecting some happy folks behind the counter. What I found instead was disinterested and rude service with an attitude of disgust that I would bother to ask for food in return for money.

The large helpings on the three meat combo platter did a little to lessen the sting of what may have been one person's one bad day at work, but the quality of the meat placed all of the meal's flavor responsibilities on the sauce. A hot dog like hot link was grilled rather than smoked and was just a mealy link with little heat. The ribs were a bit tough, but the sweetness in the rub provided a good flavor punch. Chewy fat remained on the large spare ribs, but the overall flavor was pleasing but in need of more smoke. Brisket was the most disappointing. Sliced very thin and piled high, this meat was sure to dry out quickly, but the secret weapon to keep it moist was either a dunk into or a liberal brushing of beef broth. This is somewhat common in competition cooking to keep the meat salty and moist, but here it just made the meat taste like salty pot roast. I've been known to endure poor service if the protein payoff is there, but despite the great greens and okra, I just don't see the need to bother again here.

Rating **
Mr Sprigg's Real Pit Bar-B-Q on Urbanspoon

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Robb's Smokehouse

OKLAHOMA: Robb's Smokehouse
2321 N Kickapoo Ave

Shawnee, OK 74804


Open M-Sat 10:30-8

The menu was full of promise, but the air quickly was let out of the balloon. The "brisket dog" ended up being nothing more than a hot dog bun full of chopped beef rather than the all beef wiener I was hoping for, and the smoked spud would have gotten more smokiness from a gas oven than what I tasted in this unspectacular baked potato.

The meat that ended up on my plate was no more interesting. Brisket had been fully trimmed of any and all fat and bark. The flavor was of merely unseasoned roast beef. Ribs weren't much better, just less tender. The meat was devoid of smoke flavor and the sparse seasoning did little to enliven the tired pork. High praise from local reviews brought me here, but I left wondering who would bother with Van's Pig Stand just down the street.

Rating *
Robb's Smokehouse on Urbanspoon

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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Van's Pig Stand (Original)

OKLAHOMA: Van's Pig Stand

717 E Highland St

Shawnee, OK 74801


Open M-Thur 11-9, F-Sat 11-10, Sun 11-8

They've been serving BBQ out of this building since 1935. The original location in Wewoka, Oklahoma just 40 minutes west had opened in 1928 making this a business that has lasted 82 years. That's some real staying power especially since Shawnee is a bit off the beaten path in Eastern Oklahoma. We found our way there easy enough after a forty-five minute drive from OKC. Our 11:15 arrival time was well planned as we had no line to contend with, but once we left an hour later the line was to the door.

This was the first stop of the day for my daughter, my brothers-in-law and myself so we loaded up with quite a few menu items. Van's certainly does potatoes well with crispy curly fries that are addictive, and their famous 'Van-ized' potatoes which are twice baked potatoes with their special blend of ingredients. Okra was hot and crispy and the beans had a bit of chile heat and good smokiness, but let's get to the meat. Hot links were the very fine grained, red-dyed versions found throughout this state. They were a bit dry with little smoke. Ribs were much better. The flavor was robust with smoke and spices, while the meat was moist and came easily off the bone. No meal at Van's is complete without a Pig Sandwich. The meat has a stewed texture with little remaining crust, but the flavor is distinct with the sauce and the signature mustardy relish.

The brisket was a very good version of this meat. While the slices continues to dry out as it sat, the meat had incredible flavor. The meat was tender and smoky with great crust and seasoning, and I'd certainly recommend it as long as you make it the first thing to eat off your plate. Maybe it was the historic building and the anticipation during the drive, but this Van's far surpassed what we tried a while back at an Oklahoma City branch of this chain. One thing for sure is that the original Van's is worth the trip.

Rating ***
Van's Pig Stand on Urbanspoon

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Monday, December 13, 2010

Randy's Bar-B-Que

RED OAK: Randy’s Bar-B-Que
101 Eagle Dr

Red Oak, TX 75154


Open M-Sat 11-9

Update: I hadn't been back to Randy's since I wrote about it in D Magazine earlier this year where it was named the #2 joint in DFW. You may have noticed that Leslie Brenner of the Dallas Morning News developed her own list of DFW's best BBQ, which less than coincidentally had a few in common with my own. One missing from that list was Randy's in Red Oak, which DMN probably deemed too far from Dallas to be considered in DFW. I was hoping to see how business was going since the article came out, so I stopped in for a quick bite of fatty brisket before heading home from a mini BBQ tour of points southeast of Dallas.

A whole untouched brisket was lying on the counter when I approached. I asked for some crusty slices from the fatty end, and after five different BBQ joints on the day so far, my mouth was still watering as it was sliced. At the register I learned that business had improved over the past year, and they were able to now stay open for longer hours. Happy to hear that, I went back to the car to enjoy my beautiful beef slices. The moist, tender and perfectly smoky meat was excellent. The flavor of the unctuous beef was further enhanced by the nicely rendered fat in each. I happily munched it down and tried to get my hands just clean enough as not to oil my steering wheel on the way back into town. I hope for Leslie's sake that she at least made it here during her extensive research throughout the area as it's only twenty-five minutes from the DMN offices. It's worth the trip if even for a snack.

Rating ****

June 2009: I stopped in for a quick snack to see how this place was holding up. I was so impressed the first time, I had to see if it was for real. I ordered up some sliced beef and ribs. The lady behind the counter asked if I wanted brisket from the lean portion or from the fatty cap. I went for the moist goodness and was not disappointed. The brisket was so moist and tender with good smokiness, great flavor, and a silky tender layer of fat.

The ribs again had a sticky black crust with a red tint to the meat below. The smoke permeated all the way through, and the meat was incredible. This one definitely deserves a visit.

March 2009: Along Highway 342 in Red Oak sits a simple, beige metal building that houses Randy's Bar-B-Que. The smell of smoke was in the air as we pulled into the parking lot. Gratuitous Texas Stars decorated the building's exterior, just to let us know what state we're in, but we wanted to know if they knew their way around a smoker. I ordered a few slices of brisket and three ribs since we were just there for a snack. The lady with the knife sliced off three ribs, weighed them, then threw in the rib end for free. I guess she didn't realize that this part had the most flavor per square inch of any part of the rib. As she pulled the brisket out to slice it, I noticed she removed the nice crusty cap of point meat to reveal a monochromatic slab of less than tantalizing brisket. Hunched over the table, we relished every bite of the crusty, smoky spare ribs. The meat was red throughout with a moist and tender texture. Meat caramel covered the dark crust, and each bite filled my mouth with sweet smoky goodness. At one end, I encountered a true sugar cookie of smoked, seasoned sweet fat. I hadn't seen one of those in a long time, and had never tasted one in the DFW area. Unfortunately, the crustless brisket slices tasted of roast beef with little smokiness. At that point, I had to go back and request the beautifully crusty brisket I had been denied earlier.

Reluctantly, she sliced some of the meat from the point, all the while telling me that she thinks it's too fatty to serve. Back at the table, we polished off every bite of this deeply smoky tender meat. Yes it was fatty, but the flavors packed a heavy punch, and the meat was delicious. I went back to tell them how much I enjoyed the second round of brisket hoping that future customers may benefit from my advice. A higher rating would have been warranted if their best meat had been their first choice to serve, but the everyday customer can't be required to specially request their best offerings.

Randy's Bar B Que on Urbanspoon

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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Ken's Steak and Ribs

OKLAHOMA: Ken's Steak & Ribs
408 E Main Street

Amber, OK 73004


Open Thur-F 4:30-9, Sat 4-9

After a long drive from Oklahoma City, we were all ready to eat when we arrived in the parking lot outside of this gas station and restaurant on the day after Thanksgiving. The smell of mesquite was unmistakable as we passed through the front door. This trip had all been my idea, so the happiness of the in-laws was all on me, and I'd never been here before. I was worried, but hopeful that may father-in-law's general annoyance with waits of any sort would be averted after seeing that there was a table ready for our large group. I was also happy in the knowledge that a reader named Steve had provided a glowing endorsement of the joint about a year earlier.

Happy faces surrounded the table with the arrival of the complimentary rib basket that was plunked down while we were being seated. These large spare ribs had a deep smokiness with a great crust. A flavorful salty rub covered them, and the meat was nice and moist. It took some tugging to release meat form bone, but the flavor of the meat made it worth the effort. The rest of the unwritten menu was pretty sparse. Prime rib, sirloin, smoked chicken and brisket were all available along with the salad bar. I ordered a slab of prime rib for me and a brisket plate for my daughter. My wife being a chickentarian got the smoked chicken.

After the great ribs, the dry brisket was a major disappointment. The slices had no smokiness and had the taste and texture of meat that had been rewarmed on a flat top griddle. The surface of the slices was brittle and the flavor was off-putting. Luckily my daughter likes steak too. Prime rib had been smoked as well. The thick slabs were still a bit cool, but had grill marks. My guess is they have slices in the cooler that are warmed over the mesquite fire until they reach the required doneness, and since mine was medium rare, it got little time on the grill. The meat was a bit chewy, but the smoky flavor and the excellent rub mixture made it a great tasting steak.

A half smoked chicken on my wife's plate had good moist meat beneath an under-crisped skin. The smokiness was there, and the overall flavor of the meat was great. Some of the other family members opted for the sirloin which was grilled raw, so the meat was hot and juicy. Some thought it was too smoky, but I don't normally find that to be an issue. Maybe it's a stretch to make the 45 minute drive form OKC very often, but I could see myself coming back for the sirloin and ribs. If you can make the trek, stay away from the brisket and be sure to bring cash.

Rating ***
Ken's Steak and Ribs on Urbanspoon

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Friday, December 10, 2010

Big Daddy's Roadhouse BBQ

LAVON: Big Daddy's Roadhouse BBQ
1000 Highway 78

Lavon, TX 75166


Open M-Sat 10:30-8

Update: I was in the neighborhood, which doesn't happen often when speaking of Lavon, Texas, and I was hoping for the best since my visit to the much heralded Big Daddy's just two years ago left much to be desired. Both fatty and lean brisket are listed on the menu, so I felt confident that an order of the fatty stuff would bring me some BBQ joy on this day. Samples of their weak commercial sausage and what I think were Smokey Denmark's hot links convinced me to venture away from the tube steaks, so I rounded out the three meat plate with pulled pork and ribs.

Two potato salads are available. Both are mashed, but I found a mixture of the two worked best since the mustard version was too acidic and full of pickle flavor while the mayo version just tasted like mashed potatoes with too much mayo. A mish-mash of dry and moist meat, neither with much smokiness, was thrown together in my pile of pulled pork. The meat was too salty and contained too much unrendered fat. Ribs were the best item. They also needed a bit more smoke, but the meat was moist, tender and provided just enough give as it came off the bone. Brisket was just plain bad. The fatty slices were very much under cooked and contained so much unrendered that the slices were chewy. The meat didn't stay in my mouth long enough to pick up much of anything else. Luckily there was a good slice of buttered Texas toast. I piled some pork, sauce, pickles and onions on it for a filling end to the meal. It's too bad it took so much work to make it good.

Rating **

2008: Big Daddy's is on a lonely stretch of road on the outskirts of the Metroplex. This place was a new edition to Texas Monthly's Top 50, so we had high hopes. The lack of pungent smoke flavor as we entered tempered our expectations. We ordered brisket ribs and sausage. The sausage was just above grocery store grade. The brisket was tender, but it lacked strong flavor and smoke and was bone dry. The ribs matched the brisket in their mediocrity with no crust, little smoke, and no intense flavor.

Big Daddy's Roadhouse BBQ on Urbanspoon

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Thursday, December 9, 2010

OKC BBQ Closings

"By order of the Oklahoma Tax Commission, the tax license/permit shown below, issued in the name of 10 0352 178344 Leo’s BBQ 3631 NE 36th Oklahoma City OK 73111 has been revoked for failure of the above named license/permit holder to comply with the tax laws of the State of Oklahoma." That's what the sign reads on the door of both the original and the downtown Leo's locations in Oklahoma City according to Dave Rhea's article posted today. The tax man got 'em.

After losing the County Line just a month ago, this is just too much to bear for OKC BBQ fans. My heart goes out to you.

- BBQ Snob

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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Mr. Gary's Bar-B-Q

PRINCETON: Mr. Gary's Bar-B-Q
State Hwy. 380 and S. Bridgefarmer Rd.
Princeton, TX 75407
Open ?

Bridgefarmer Road crosses State Highway 380 between McKinney and Princeton, Texas. This is not the most heavily traveled thoroughfare, but Mr. Gary decided it was a good corner for him to set up shop. I wouldn't have had any reason to travel this route if I hadn't heard about the joint from a 2007 review from Rambling Ranch. After climbing the concrete stoop, I placed my order through the small window. Combo plates are not an option (no sides) so I went for a half lb. of brisket, a half rack of ribs and some hot links. Gary came back to the window to inform me the hot links were not yet ready, so I knew he was a man with BBQ principals. A half chicken it would be. I was a bit taken back by the $27 price tag for the combo, but I was excited to get home and dig in.

Meats are smoked over a revolving mix of hardwoods

The brisket was chopped because Gary had forgot his knife. I'm not sure how he chopped it, but the outcome was great. The moist meat had incredible smokiness, but was a bit oversalted. There was plenty of crispy crust mixed in which made for good eating right off the fork, or more naturally as a great sandwich filler.

The chicken had a disappointingly soggy skin, but the meat below was moist with plenty of smokiness that had penetrated. Both dark and white meat were exceptional. Ribs were well smoked too, but suffered from the same liberal use of salt as the brisket. The flavors were still good, and the meat was nicely moist. The rib meat came off the bone easily enough without being overcooked. These were some good ribs, and I've no doubt that Gary can smoke the rest of his menu quite well too. You can head out to this far away locale as well to try it, or call the number above to place a catering order, and Gary can come to you.

Rating ***

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Monday, December 6, 2010

Sausages at Smoke

I consider both the owners and chef of Smoke friends, so I was happy to meet with them a few weeks back at the restaurant to help plan a food related event. During the meeting I munched from some samples of their house made sausage, including the rabbit sausage that's included on the newish menu. Tim Byres is stuffing and smoking the most interesting mix of sausages that I've found in Dallas, and after that bite, I knew I had to get back there to try the other house cured and cold smoked items.

Hunks of pork andouille, all spiced rabbit and beef paprika and fennel seed sausage all came on a sampler plate. Who says you don't need appetizers at breakfast? The beef sausage had a very fine grind with an a slight graininess from all that paprika. This is probably the leanest of the three options and also had the chewiest casing. The pork sausage certainly had the most heat, but was also silky smooth with plenty of pork fat added to the mix. Ironically, the rabbit sausage had a flavor most reminiscent of more traditional smoked pork sausage. I'm sure they use a little pork in the mix, and these links seemed to soak up the smoke better than the others. I'll be headed back to Smoke just for another link of that rabbit sausage.

While the above photo looks like a mess of brown sop on a plate, the ham steak with red eye gravy was a colorful combination of flavors. A griddle cake with plenty of sweet corn kernels sat in a pool of murky gravy with the unmistakable flavor of black coffee. Dense slices of smoky ham sat atop the griddle cake and an egg fritter topped the whole plate. The egg fritter was poached, breaded and fried providing an unexpected texture while still pulling off a perfectly cooked egg.

My wife's plate of turkey wasn't as successful. It was dry enough that it started to grow hair as the meat fibers raised from the slices, and each bite needed an orange juice chaser to get it down. One look at the turkey from the waiter, and there was no argument that it would come off the bill.

Sides of chicken sausage patties and thick cut bacon rounded out the meal. The chicken sausage was subtly flavored and a nicely moist without being greasy, and the bacon was much better than my first visit. These slices were a bit thinner and had been well crisped. Still plenty thick, it had the flavor of smoked pork slabs more than the burnt bacon that may escape your frying pan at home. It was certinaly a good way to end a solid six-meat breakfast.

Rating - Not all BBQ, but worth returning for.

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Friday, December 3, 2010

Should Journalists Credit Bloggers for Pilfering Their Content?

Update: The national media related blog Poynter has highlighted the story, Eats Beat in Fort Worth is happy to see FW BBQ so well represented, SideDish and Frontburner add some fuel and even St. Louis seems to care.

Update: We now have input from Pegasus News,, SideDish and possibly the most spirited outcry from There's been so much traffic questioning her tactics that Leslie Brenner decided to post an explanation that falls a bit short from giving this blog much credit.

Earlier Today: This week I was reminded of an old article I read about Bonnie Bell Island in Dallas' White Rock Lake. There's no actual island, but some internet mapping companies had added it as an intentional mistake to be able to sniff out copycats. I too was trying to sniff out some possible pilfering when I read a recent Dallas Morning News list of the 'Best Barbecue in DFW'. As I read each of DMN critic Leslie Brenner's entries, I noticed these were not the usual suspects that had normally received accolades from the local media in the past. By the time I'd reached the end of the list I realized this was incredibly similar the list I authored in D Magazine earlier this year. In fact, eight of the nine joints listed by Leslie Brenner were included in my top sixteen list. Given the overall lack of previous coverage in DMN given to most of these places it seemed like parts of my list had just been reused and called original content, so I wrote to Leslie Brenner for clarification. I was told that my list, among many others, was just a starting point, and that since I am merely a blogger that I may not be 'familiar with accepted journalistic practices'.

After reading the entries more closely I noticed an odd mistake in Brenner's write up on Bartley's Bar-B-Que where she mentions that they smoke with oak. I mention this in my article as well, but I learned during a later trip to Bartley's that I incorrectly reported that fact. They use all hickory and always have. While I didn't report their wood source as an intentional goof, it amounts to my Bonnie Bell Island, and Brenner simply copied that incorrect information directly into DMN's BBQ list. Maybe all the homework I had done on the local BBQ scene was used to draw Brenner's conclusions rather than the innocent starting point as she suggested in our correspondence.

Another puzzling item on the DMN list is the absence of Pecan Lodge and Smoke which both received three stars (a destination restaurant for this type of dining) from the Dallas Morning News review staff, with Pecan Lodge's rating coming just two weeks ago. How were they left off? Maybe more importantly, why wouldn't the News use the expertise of their own staff who form the Texas BBQ Posse? As a group, they have bothered to seek out new and interesting BBQ around the state and have written several articles about their exploits in the News. Wouldn't these true sojourners of smoked meat bring more credibility to such a list? I think so.

One positive from all of this that cannot be ignored is that the hard working pitmasters at each of these local joints are getting more much deserved recognition. That can always be applauded.

Of course this subject affects me personally which can cloud judgment, so tell me, am I being over sensitive, or is all my whining justified? Should bloggers be given credit by 'legitimate' media outlets if their content is used? Share your thoughts here or on the Dallas Observer's site where they asked the same question. I look forward to the discourse.

- BBQ Snob

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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.