Long-time readers of this blog will remember the irrepressible mischief of my wife, Richard (not her real name). Well, one of the greatest regrets of our marriage is that I took her to Pecan Lodge one time on an off-day. It was good, but not great. She was unimpressed. I had been one time before that, and it was unbelievable, like a choir of brisket sirens singing me on to the rocks of heart disease. Forever after her visit, when I had spoken with someone about Pecan Lodge in her presence, she offered the rejoinder that, actually, it wasn't that good.
See also: An Englishman in BBQ Sauce
This has been a constant thorn in my side. The yin to my yang, the Bonnie to my Clyde, our marriage could not be complete until she had seen Pecan Lodge for what it is, the best barbecue place in Dallas, and a review that I foolishly threw away on page three of a three-page article about having barbecue for lunch. Well, Mother's Day was the day I chose to right all of these wrongs. Driving down with her and the stepson, she mentioned that this was the "last chance" she would give Pecan Lodge. The stakes had been raised. She does not tolerate fools gladly, nor does she tolerate average brisket. She also still enjoys sides more than barbecue, which will at some stage require marriage counseling, but we're not there yet.
Well, predictably the line at Pecan Lodge was the queuing equivalent of getting on LBJ Freeway in rush hour, only even worse because LBJ is just trying to get you somewhere, whereas the line at Pecan Lodge is the only way to get you to brisket. At least with LBJ you can just take Royal Lane. There's no way around the Pecan Lodge line. Even worse, that creeping disquiet of them slowly crossing sold-out items off the menu as you go is ever-present, leading you to resent those ahead of you in line. Richard and the stepson took their seats, leaving me to worry about the line.
Eventually, after much panic, I acquire my food, and here I shall list it with the price it actually cost followed by what it's actually worth, and thus what you should be prepared to pay for such a commodity come the apocalypse. A pound of brisket ($17 real cost/all of your present and future children real worth), half a pound of ribs ($8/the secrets to nuclear fusion), a home-made sausage link ($4.50/all the guns you were using to stop scavengers), bacon mac and cheese for the nipper ($3.50/the last radiation suit) and a homemade banana pudding ($3/all of the above plus your food supply).
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SHOW ME HOW
The wife took the symbolic first bite of brisket. She cursed, but in a good way. Her soul had been saved, and the (minor) tear in our marriage repaired, healed by cow fat. The brisket here is better than good, people. It's the best in Dallas. It's probably better than anything I ate in Lockhart the other week. You completely forget about sauce. It's there, but rather than being a necessary accompaniment, you now feel like you'd be ruining the masterful perfection in front of you were you to apply any of the sauce. I started writing this column due to my love of barbecue, but especially barbecue sauce. I'm now in a place where I look for meat that actively rejects the need for sauce. It's pretty amazing.
Well, folks, this brisket is like eating high-brow conceptual notions. No one can define the idea of beauty, but Plato did suggest that the objective notion of beauty can be found within decades of philosophical study. If so, may I suggest that Justin, the pitmaster at Pecan Lodge, has decades of philosophical study behind him, because this is as near as dammit perfect. The brisket is so tender that chewing is optional, the smoke is more than evident, the rub is a delight. It's like being massaged by a really gentle cow, only much better than that sounds. It's like sending your mouth to the day spa. It's the Rolling Stones of brisket, only you won't have to remortgage your home to interact with it.
The ribs are perfect and all. They're tender enough to fall off the bone when you want but good enough to stay attached until then. The sausage is the best I've had. Are they cheating somehow? Is this like that episode of Futurama in which Bender discovers the formula for pure flavour (which, it turns out, is water mixed with LSD, surely a vital component of any chef's arsenal)? The bacon mac and cheese is like being really attracted to a deadly snake -- you know it will kill you, but you can't help but go back for more again and again. Even the banana pudding is a triumph. Think about that for a second. When was a banana pudding a triumph?
If Pecan Lodge was an Olympic sprinter, it would be "randomly" tested again and again until the clearly obvious fact that it was doping became apparent. What are they doing in there, in that small room in the Farmers Market? How are they creating food like this? Are they magic? Is Justin a wizard? Did I just eat LSD? If we've learned one thing about magic powers, guys, it's that they run out eventually. I would recommend you go to Pecan Lodge immediately, because it's a restaurant on par with the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Pyramids of Egypt, and any road that takes you away from Oklahoma.