Friday, July 8, 2011

Mad Hatter Cafe

When I read about the Mad Hatter Cafe on Thrillist I thought little about trying to find a parking spot in downtown Dallas to try this place out, that is until I saw a brisket sandwich on the menu. The first free lunch hour I had, I made my way to try what was promised on the menu as a sandwich "piled high with slow smoked chopped brisket". I found a mostly legal parking spot and walked up a few blocks to place my order. The cashier noted my confusion when looking over the menu, so I asked what had happened to the brisket sandwich. He suggested I try the 'smoked' pulled pork sandwich instead, and even bothered to add that the menu had not changed since opening day. I guess he was thinking "Why is this crazy man asking for smoked brisket at this downtown cafe". I was asking for it because it's on the online menu - still - taunting me.

The pulled pork would have to do, and I watched as the cook poured out some presauced pork into a saute pan. I inquired about the possibility of an on-site smoking apparatus and was told that their food supplier smokes it. Who is the food supplier? A specific name wasn't given, but my guess is Sysco.

Back at the office I dug into the behemoth. If I hadn't ordered it myself, I would have sworn it was a sloppy joe with a poorly chosen mustard accompaniment. The meat had zero smokiness, a singular mushy texture, and very little pleasing qualities. While I didn't expect greatness out of this cafe's barbecue offerings, this sad imposter for 'smoked' meat was disappointing. I have a feeling the brisket wouldn't be any better.

- BBQ Snob


Anonymous said...


Big Jason said...

I work at Energy Plaza downtown and in the lobby there's a place called Texas Star Cafe that has a smoker, albeit an electric one. Yesterday they had pulled pork sliders which were pretty tasty. I believe the owner is looking to offer to more BBQ options.


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.