An Englishman in BBQ Sauce

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

The meat comes out, with the chopped brisket in an appealing mountain of caveman happiness, and the portions are BIG. Huge, really, far more than enough for the two of us, and I stupidly ordered some mac and cheese (which, by the way, is clearly homemade and very tasty) for the kid and all. The meat is really superb — it could hardly not taste of smoke in a place like this, but it's deliciously juicy and tender and wonderful and I'm running out of words but mmmm my God it's tasty.

Having a chopped brisket allows you to properly mix it with the sauce, which, by the way, is fantastic, one of the best I've ever had, and worth the extra $2. The sausage is spicy (too much for the stepson) and has a texture similar to the one at Lockhart's, so is essentially extremely good, and the ribs are like little pockets of smoke wrapped around a bone, and the meat falls off at the drop of a hat. Brilliant stuff. Not only that, the bill for all of that, plus two drinks, came to $26, which is just astonishingly cheap. I'm used to paying around $35 to $40 for that much food.

This place comes highly recommended. I know almost everywhere I go comes highly recommended, but this really is extremely good. They also offer free local delivery.


Smoke

901 Fort Worth Ave., 214-393-4141

It's nice to see a barbecue place throw me a sort of curveball and make me feel like a stranger adrift in some meat-filled wilderness, replicating the confusion and wonder I felt when I thought pulled pork was what you got at a Texan barbecue, and when my stepson thought ketchup was a legitimate condiment.

I knew something was up when there was a valet. I was absolutely not dressed for any sort of restaurant encounter (seriously, I haven't worn actual shoes since about April and it's impossible to go anywhere in my car without stepping out smelling like a farm animal), and alarm bells immediately started ringing. Given that the valet wasn't at his desk, I made the brave, some might say rude, decision to just park myself. Unfortunately, by the time we got out and walked to the restaurant the valet had returned, and his look was one of disdain and confusion. Disliking confrontation, as an Englishman, I just slipped quietly past him, pretending to be enthralled by Family Dollar over the road. We got in and there were menus, waiters and an attractive restaurant set-up with tablecloths and neatly folded cutlery holders. Where was I? Was this Texas barbecue? Was I even in Texas any more?

I was longing for a meat counter and a man with a knife and weighing scales. I decided, because fuck it, to order some sort of bloody mary/Lone Star beer/barbecue sauce mash-up drink, which was an odd choice, but I wanted to see if barbecue sauce could be involved in any sort of passable drink. Answer: No, no it cannot.

Did I mention the whole restaurant smells delicious? Apparently they smoke all their meat for between eight hours and two days, and that comes at the "cost" of making everything in a mile radius smell of lovely smoke. Anyway, we got the Big Rib ($25) and the brisket ($18), because obviously heavily smoked brisket is going to be good. When the Big Rib came out, it was abundantly clear I was still in Texas. It was the size of a very small house (I'm no good at comparisons). Richard described it as "a shoehorn for a giant." I was very pleased. The meat came well presented, with specially selected sides AS PART OF THE OVERALL DISH, which again is confusing and scary to me.


Dickey's Barbecue Pit

Many, many locations

For every gourmet $20 cheeseburger, there must be a McDonald's. For every independent Mexican restaurant that cooks fresh to order, there must be a Taco Bell. For every $40 steak, there must be ... a really cheap steak. You get the idea. So, barbecue food is popular round these parts. By what I am going to call "Gavin's Law," there must be a fast-food version of barbecue, mass-produced for the meat fiend on the go. And so there is.

Enter Dickey's. They're everywhere. The first one I went to was shut because of a power outage, so I drove three miles down the road to the next one (on Valwood Parkway in Carrollton) and then passed another one on the way home. In that case, they must be popular.

They're all decked out, Texas-style, with all the things you think an authentic barbecue place should look like. They smell of smoke and meat. You can order beef by the pound. It's all wrong, though. It's like a tribute act to a proper barbecue place. The smoke smells wrong, there's a fast-food element underlying the wooden fixtures and fittings, and, most important, the beef is God-damn awful.

I got three meats and four sides. It came to $26. Firstly, as we have established, I like meat. This is a given. I was apprehensive before starting, but as it turns out the sausage and ribs aren't that bad really. I mean, I'm being generous, but it was all right. Smoked sausage is kind of difficult to mess up, as long as you cook it properly (read: it doesn't need actual barbecuing if you get the right sausage in). The ribs were a good texture, if a bit dry, but largely flavourless until dipped in the sauce, which is over-sweet but pleasingly smoky. The beef though, Jesus. It was like eating sand. It was drier than eating a packet of cheese crackers, minus the cheese, on a summer's day in Texas. It didn't even taste of anything. There was no reward for the endless chewing, just disappointment, shame and regret. I've eaten more appetizing floor tiles.

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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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