There is a famous quote from William Shakespeare that surfaces in the mind immediately as the server delivers his statement. The quote is that succinct, meaty line from All’s Well That Ends Well: "Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.” It’s a perfect line, nearly. It’s missing something. Amongst the boatloads of falling-in-love cliches, especially the Shakespeare lines that strike you like a bowling ball clattering all 10 pins, there are frighteningly few that address what it means to find the perfect bologna.
“You’re going to fall in love with that bologna,” the server says. My hands are hunger-quivering. Yes, the answer to "to bologna or not to bologna?" is always "to bologna."
Actually, the revised Shakespeare quote — as predicted by the fella who's running the host’s podium at Lakewood Smokehouse — should read: Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none, and always order the damn smoked bologna sandwich.
Why? Because it’s the sandwich equivalent of Robin Hood’s fired arrow, one that splits Cupid’s dumb, lamely meandering arrow in half like a bisection right down the middle, and lands in your favorite memory of grilled hot dogs. It's the sandwich that conjures somehow both grilled summer dogs and the mayo and bologna between white bread you had as a kid. It's better than all of the above.
“Do we have the bologna sandwich? What is it made of?” Asks another server to the kitchen. When you’re dealing with the typical cotton candy pink discs, gelatinously stacked in those weird, perfect circles at the grocery store, it’s better not to know. When your food is formed from a horror movie sludge, like, say, a soft-serve jet of pink slime, then blissful ignorance of the source is the right route. Instead, Lakewood Smokehouse is treating bologna with the Texas elegance of a Willie Nelson song.
They coarse-grind pork shoulder and beef, top round, and keep it icy cold. They snow the grind with spices, still maintaining the proper chill in order to preserve the fat content. They grind again, remix the seasoning and chill it again. The blend hangs out, curing for a day or two. Then, the natural magic: It smokes for seven hours. Lakewood Smokehouse partner Andrew Golden, arbiter of the bologna, ticks the temperature up slowly to keep the fat jailed inside the casing.
Two thick slices sizzle-fry on the flat top, topped by a heaping scoop of coleslaw that’s zapped by mustard. Between a soft bun, the double bologna sandwich is smoky, snapping with freshness, and the rich-beefy pickle of a damn good hot dog. You want this sandwich anytime of the year, but especially now, as an antidote to the fussiest pub sandwiches.
“It’s funny. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time,” Golden says. “It’s actually my first time ever making bologna.”
Golden made it, simply, because he wanted a bologna sandwich. It’s available in handcrafted batches right now — calling ahead to see if they’ve got some in the smoker is advised — as part of their rotating specials.
“It’s pretty simple. It’s a lot of work, but it’s pretty simple,” Golden says.
As a kid, a bologna sandwich meant palm-squishing white bread into the mayonnaise and the salty pink disc. It was fine, but it wasn’t love. Lakewood’s is all the love you need.
Lakewood Smokehouse, 1901 Abrams Road (East Dallas)