|Finally, another excuse to post this photo of Lockhart's Shiner platter.|
*The Englishman Reviews Taste of Dallas' BBQ Scene
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*An Englishman Reviews the BBQ of Mike Anderson's for The English
I finished my blog the other week with the hope we could move away from its current format of the journalistic equivalent of a man eating his keyboard with joy. No such luck. If you don't like unashamed delight, get out now. The only criticism in this review is going to be how bad food which hasn't been tenderly barbecued is.
Lockhart Smokehouse is definitely the place that had been most relentlessly recommended to me by everyone, not least the staff at the Observer. It had become something of a mantra -- and I had been looking forward to this visit for weeks -- with such an unbelievable amount of hype that it couldn't possibly be as good as I hoped, like Glastonbury Festival (not as good) or the Pixies reunion (just as good as I expected).
Get the clod, use your hands, no sauce. You can see the problem with this, aside from what on earth clod is. I built this blog on BBQ sauce, in much the same way Starship built that city on rock and roll. The idea of Texas BBQ without sauce is anathema to me. Still, I don't really know anything, as we have hopefully established by now. I decided to go with it. When in Rome, etc. etc. All the meat. No sauce. All change. Obviously no sides though; this isn't some sort of party buffet for 8-year-olds. A momentous occasion, I'm sure you'll agree.
Parking around Lockhart's is pretty difficult, but you can always get a side street or something and walk a bit, something that seems as alien to Dallas as a sauceless brisket does to me. You can smell the glorious combination of smoke and meat that is Lockhart's from like a block away. The venue is legit, from its concrete floors to its Texan signs on the wall to its dark and shady bar. It's everything I dreamed of when I somehow ended up living in Texas.
I meet up with a group of friends there, as well as my family, the previously mentioned Richard and stepson, and they are all delighted to have an excuse to eat BBQ. I would have driven them here but I was too busy trying to beat the meat rush. They understand, and got there before me anyway while I was driving round side streets in a parking-based frustration, able to see the venue where I could obtain delicious meat but unable to enter it while encased in a large steel sauna. We settle down to the generous happy hour of $2 drinks while we wait for everyone to arrive, and send out a recon party to assess the meat situation and obtain samples.
The advance party returns from the well-hidden meat counter with bad news. They are out of clod, chicken and burnt ends! This does not bode well. I am destined never to discover what clod is. I knew we should have got here at 11 a.m. and eaten BBQ all day. Still, though, there is brisket galore. More brisket than I could ever hope to eat. I get a pound of brisket ($15), a special Kreuz sausage for $5 and three ribs for about $6. This is between three of us, I hasten to add. I'm not a machine.
This won't be a review so much as a eulogy to the meat which has departed this earth. The sausage, like I said the other week, fantastic, the outer skin has bite and snap, but the innards are crumbly and meaty. No crap goes in these sausages. The pork ribs were wonderfully smoky, tender and delicious. I always feel vaguely animalistic when I chew meat off a bone, especially when I'm doing it this fast and am this pleased.
The brisket though. It deserves its own paragraph. It's insane. I have no idea how I'm going to describe it. It falls apart in your hands, and the meat isn't even the best bit. The burned outsides and the fatty parts pretty much make me cry. They're weirdly sweet, but chewy, meaty and smoky. It's like a new experience of food. Imagine if someone made the greatest chocolate you'd ever tasted, but out of delicious meat. Then imagine you were surrounded by your best friends and your family, and that someone was paying for you to eat this chocolate meat, while you drank incredibly cheap alcohol. Exactly. There are no words for that. I spend about the next 20 minutes in stunned silence, while everyone at the table makes polite chit-chat. I'm out. The brisket has ended me.