Monty Python and the FM Smokehouse
The producers of the Holy Grail proudly present The Life Of Bri ... no, no that's not right. It says here "FM Smokehouse". I don't remember that one being part of the canon, but then I guess no one really watched The Meaning Of Life either, despite that whole song and dance routine about contraception. Featuring considerably more smoked meat than any other Python film, FM Smokehouse is set in Irving, Texas, a sleepy suburb of a bustling metro area. One day this small town community is rocked to its very foundations when someone sets up a restaurant serving not only portions that are larger than your entire head, but MUSTARD-BASED BARBECUE SAUCE.
Recoiling in horror, the locals (led by Eric Idle) band together to drive the owners (John Cleese and Graham Chapman) out of business by continuing to eat at the Spring Creek Barbecue up the road despite its questionable commitment to quality meat. They are eventually won round by the outstanding selection of craft beers, Cleese's slapstick comedy and a mac and cheese so delicious it will melt your face. The film ends with Idle dipping a ridiculously good crumbly sausage into mustard-based barbecue sauce and smiling.
Of course, none of this actually happened. I mean, for a start, you're reading a food blog, which would be an odd place for you to discover a new Monty Python film, even one as brain-dullingly formulaic as the outline above. What FM Smokehouse actually is, is a barbecue restaurant. I know, I know. I couldn't believe it either. It also turns out the Holy Grail is a pub in Plano, which must come as a surprise to the surviving Pythons. So far this entire blog has actually been a smokescreen. (Get it? SMOKEscreen? HAH!).
Rather than strictly being a barbecue restaurant, FM Smokehouse is a diner dedicated to food served on those rural, terrifying-at-night, oh-my-God-I'm-in-the-middle-of-fucking-nowhere Farm to Market roads that cross Texas, joining up all those abandoned farms with the markets that Walmart put out of business. Yeah, the future! Thus, the menu features things which are not barbecue (heavens to Betsy!) and doesn't sell meat by the pound or have counter service (heavens to Murgatroyd!). It does, however, offer a three-meat plate of smoked delights (brisket, sausage, no ribs, pulled pork instead) and so I was totally in.
The three-meat plate is $15, and if you are not stupid you will pay the extra $2 for the mac and cheese, which is made with more varieties of cheese than Mike Huckabee has braincells (I reckon at least two). It also has a full selection of craft beers (I went for the 512 Pecan Porter), the most outrageously large chicken-fried steak I've ever seen in my entire life, tacos, a brisket Frito pie that is undoubtedly the most Texan thing anyone has ever made, a ghost pepper chili soup for IDIOTS, various tacos, you get the idea. It is everything to every man. It should be noted that the chicken-fried steak is, I am told by Scott Reitz, not right at all and actually a perversion of nature. Despite being a frankly humongous and rare sirloin encased in batter and thus delicious in its own right, when I asked him he muttered something about "mincing" and "Babe's" before writing me a beautiful paragraph about how to create the perfect batter. I discarded the paragraph, as no one came to this blog for information or any kind of knowledge.
The brisket, which apparently is bacon-injected, is frankly delicious even for brisket, despite suffering from being somewhat lean. The parts that do have a bit of fatty tenderness to them are excellent, like a smoked cow made entirely from properly rendered (THANKS COMMENTERS) fat and unicorn farts, to borrow a note out of the Cheap Bastard's oeuvre. It's not the best around, but goddammit if it ain't way over average. The pulled pork is not as good as the other stuff because it's pulled pork (never let it be said I am fair or balanced, although this particular pork was pretty dry) but the sausage. Oh my word. It crumbled with nary a thought, like the USMNT (editor's note: he's talking soccer again) in the knockout round of a major tournament. It was spicy, sweet, meaty and smoky all at once, and when it was dipped in the heretic spicy mustard barbecue sauce, it became one of the greatest sausages in the history of man, greater even than that sausage that featured so heavily in Game of Thrones on Sunday night.
What I'm saying, people, is go here and order these things -- the fried pickles with the mustard barbecue sauce which Leslie Brenner praised so thoroughly, the two-meat plate with mac and cheese (no pulled pork, screw you pulled pork) and get someone in your party to order the "chicken-fried steak" (Scott made me put the speech marks in) so you can at least be blown away by the fact that it is six times the size of a Smart Car, or twice as big as the most horrific car in human history, the Nissan Cube. You will not even be remotely disappointed. Not once. Pretty good, this place.
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