An Englishman in BBQ Sauce

An expatriate Brit learns to love Texas, one pound of brisket at a time.

Hard Eight BBQ

688 Freeport Parkway, Coppell, 972-471-5462

This place looks serious about barbecue. There's smoke everywhere (seriously, standing in line is both delicious and uncomfortable) and its two barbecues are larger than most English front rooms.

Mike Anderson's BBQ draws a lunch-only crowd. There's better brisket in Dallas, but theirs is still delicious. Plus, a side of "cheesy cornbread thingy-wotsit" has its fans.
Gavin Cleaver
Mike Anderson's BBQ draws a lunch-only crowd. There's better brisket in Dallas, but theirs is still delicious. Plus, a side of "cheesy cornbread thingy-wotsit" has its fans.

It's like a festival of meat. This place is very different to my two usual lunch-time hangouts (Mike Anderson's and Sonny Bryan's). I have to order the meat from a man at the front (a task made awkward by my accent, like every other interaction in Dallas), get it weighed by the pound, and then take it through a roller coaster of sides, desserts and bread.

I get a half pound of brisket and a half pound of sausage ($16), my stepson gets a half pound of sirloin and some ... brush poppers? I think it was chicken wrapped in bacon ($11). My friend gets brisket and jalapeño sausage.

Our brisket is cut from the new brisket, wrapped in foil at the back of the barbecue. I luck out and get the blackened and crispy end piece. I should point out at this juncture I haven't eaten in a day, simply to prepare myself for this moment. I am having to restrain myself from jumping as he struggles to unwrap the foil using only a knife. "QUICKER! USE SOME TONGS!" I don't say, as I am English and thus very polite. I take it inside, and I am angry at the sides. Angry.

They have no business here. Why would I want corn at this juncture?

Someone in the line asks me where I'm from. I get this question a lot, and normally deal with it very well, with small talk and friendly discussion. Not today, sunshine. "LONDON!" I snap, and then immediately turn back to the line, which has ground to a halt because some simpleton has picked out the wrong side and is exchanging it. "LEAVE THE SIDES! THEY'RE POINTLESS!" I inwardly cry. Again though, I am polite to a fault, and simply stare at his head in fury.

I find all the barbecue sauce (both original and red apple cider barbecue sauce), pour them into cups and walk-run outside with my prize, leaving my stepson to fend for himself in the cruel world of barbecue, asking if there is any tomato sauce to an incredulous reaction from my friend (I told you British people have no idea what's going on with barbecue).

The actual food is a blur of joy. The brisket is phenomenal, crisp and melting and tender. It's like a kiss from a beautiful woman who has just eaten some delicious meat (yes, I know). The sausage is fine, but it's no brisket and eventually I grow resentful toward it for not being brisket. I wish there were a meat exchange program. It was my stepson's first experience of barbecue sauce. I give him some brisket, tell him to dip it in the sauce and wait for the reaction. The reaction is this: He physically leaps for joy, and in doing so sends his drink flying. Another British convert.


Mike Anderson's BBQ

5410 Harry Hines Blvd., 214-630-0735

I'd have to say that, if there's one place that convinced me barbecue isn't just a treat but rather a pursuit, it's Mike Anderson's. I anticipate lunch visits with the sort of religious fervor that you, a sensible person, might reserve for a more momentous occasion, such as a well-deserved holiday or your own wedding, say.

I long for the day Mike invites me into his backyard (!), to sample his sauce (!!). Yikes.

OK. So, Mike Anderson's is very much a lunch-time venue. It isn't open past 2:30 p.m. Even if you wanted dinner there, Mike wouldn't be having any of it; he's probably got a very busy evening planned and none of it involves serving you BBQ.

We end up with two three-meat dinner plates ($12.95 a shot) containing sausage (delicious), pulled pork (delicious), turkey (a questionable BBQ food), pork tenderloin (don't even remember it) and two helpings of brisket because goddammit brisket is incredible. There, glistening serenely next to Mike's right hand like some sort of BBQ Holy Ghost is a vat of sauce. I load up a bowl and perform my now customary sprint, stopping only to snaffle some BBQ beans and some fries, or chips as I will confusingly continue to call them.

Wife Richard's favourite thing about the entire Mike Anderson visit is one particular side, the cheesy cornbread bake. The cheesy cornbread thingy-wotsit isn't bad at all. It's not the point, though, is it? I didn't come to a place like this to eat cheese.

As I chew happily on brisket, a sad realization dawns on me. This brisket isn't quite as good as Hard 8. This is, literally, the first critical thought I have ever had relating to BBQ.

Don't get me wrong. The brisket is delicious. I would take 3 grams of it over a thousand kilos (that's right, European measurements now, deal with it) of that ridiculous corn stuff that my wife has polished off at the expense of a pristine, untouched plate of meat.


Lockhart Smokehouse

400 West Davis St., 214-944-5521

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31 comments
FarleyFlavors
FarleyFlavors

'In Britain, we treat each other with a lingering sense of suspicion, and if someone tries to talk to one of us, we normally take it to mean they are either insane or want something'.

Absolutely true for where you hail from and absolutely false for the North and Scotland. Don't tar us all with the same brush, you fat wanker.

primi_timpano
primi_timpano topcommenter

Still can't wait for the curry spinoff.

Joshstruckoutagain
Joshstruckoutagain

Gavin, keep on keeping on..I very much enjoy hearing about the Great State through the eyes of a Englishman.  You need to head down to Lockhart,Tx and trudge through Black's, Smitty's and Kreuz..maybe stop by Franklins on the way back.  (Franklins is the finest brisket I've ever had, and I've had a large herd of brisket inhabite me intestines over the eons.)

WestTX_BBQ
WestTX_BBQ

@BBQsnob When reading my inner voice was in a British accent the whole time.

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

Please don't tell us your middle name is Ray or Wayne, because that picture is, well... unsettling.

Gavin Ray Cleaver? Very catchy - in a serial killer sort of fashion. (The actual cleaver is a nice touch, though. Very cheeky.)

Keep up the good work, and good call on the idea to review BBQ as a novice. It's fun to get a look at our culture from your POV.

EliotLandrum
EliotLandrum

Keep it up, sir! I get a hearty laugh and amusement out of your posts. And I'm usually in complete agreement. Love it.

EnglishmanInBBQ
EnglishmanInBBQ

@nickrallo I hope as the architect of this insanity you are proud of yourself... you've collectively lowered Dallas' IQ

kenlowery
kenlowery

@rusty_shackles @jessnevins @jason1749 Rusty are you down for this, I have a four-door sedan and can drive.

kenlowery
kenlowery

@jessnevins @rusty_shackles @jason1749 MABOT. MEAT AND BEER ORGY TOUR. Maybe it needs work I dunno

kenlowery
kenlowery

@jessnevins @rusty_shackles @jason1749 I am OK marking off a week next summer (or spring or fall or whatever) to do this.

kenlowery
kenlowery

@jessnevins @rusty_shackles @jason1749 We need a Meat & Beer Orgy Tour of Shiner, Dublin and Lockhart.

kenlowery
kenlowery

@jessnevins I haven't been baaaaaackkkkkkk #shameonmyhouse

kenlowery
kenlowery

@jessnevins @rusty_shackles @jason1749 To be clear: it's Lockhart Smokehouse (with Lockhart sausage) IN DALLAS, not the town itself.

kenlowery
kenlowery

@jessnevins @rusty_shackles @jason1749 I was a little overwhelmed.

kenlowery
kenlowery

@rusty_shackles My brother swears by Off the Bone but I haven't been yet.

kenlowery
kenlowery

@rusty_shackles Lockhart is GREAT. I went there for the first time when @jason1749 is in town. Didn't get the sausage, stupidly.

kenlowery
kenlowery

@rusty_shackles Sonny Bryans is kind of inevitable if you live here, but yeah it's our go-to if we don't want to drive a lot.

DallasLockhart
DallasLockhart

@rusty_shackles @kenlowery check out our Facebook page if you need more #Qporn !

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

Big Kitty saw your picture and she's fallen head over paws in love.

ewanmacdonald
ewanmacdonald

As a fellow expat from the British Isles this had me nodding in agreement throughout. Perfectly said. Y'all here in Texas are just fuckin' brammer, by ra way.

cohenesque
cohenesque

@Dallas_Observer c'mon, you made that byline up.

OakClifflady
OakClifflady

You need to go to Odom's BBQ and try their ribs.  There is one on Singleton Blvd in Dallas and one on Oriole Blvd in Duncanville.  Great ribs and the best fully loaded baked potato.

DallasLockhart
DallasLockhart

@RoadrunnerEats Isn't it!?! and it was such fun to shoot

kenlowery
kenlowery

@DallasLockhart we are in line!

RoadrunnerEats
RoadrunnerEats

@DallasLockhart though I expected @EnglishmanInBBQ to look more like Hugh grant and less like @gordonkeith

kenlowery
kenlowery

@DallasLockhart You too. We're all very sleepy.

 
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