Woodshed Smokehouse's menu has been teasing me for months. With all those exotic items (smoked mozarella! Bizarre sausage! AN ENTIRE GODDAMN SHIN OF BEEF! Smoked rutabaga, which is called "swede" back home because "rutabaga" is literally impossible to say in a British accent), I had actually spent what might be hours of my life lining up my ideal Woodshed Smokehouse meal, and then realizing that I couldn't afford such a spread without auctioning off at least one of my limbs.
Woodshed Smokehouse is, you see, some goddamn fancy barbecue. You're not going to see your average shack selling lamb brisket by the ounce.
It's right by the Trinity River in Fort Worth. If Saturday afternoon hadn't been a rainstorm fit to signal the coming apocalypse, I'm convinced the view would have been delightful. The "woodshed" in the name comes from a series of attractive little woodsheds, each labeled with the type of wood contained within, scattered artfully around the grounds of the restaurant. I would have taken photos of them, but the outside was somewhat inhospitable at this point.
This did not stop my server asking me if I wanted to sit outside, of course, before quickly realizing his mistake. Upon being escorted to the table, a lone soaked man at a four-top in the corner of a room full of families who were all remarkably dry, I was presented with the menu of dreams. More things had been added to the menu since whatever version was online. My head span. Did I want smoked hummus? Is "smoked Texas peanuts" a code for something more delicious that I was missing out on? What sort of masochist would be confronted by this menu and order a butter-dipped radish?
I was overwhelmed, but the thing I had been looking forward to trying the most was lamb brisket. Lamb is a feature on all menus back home, and extremely popular, but is a rare find out here. Even though I had no idea how much two ounces of lamb brisket equated to, I ordered that, and a quarter pound of beef brisket, because that stuff is TWENTY BUCKS A POUND out here in Fort Worth, where clearly they are importing their beef from Mars.
Then, given that the sausage of the day was rattlesnake and rabbit ($11), ironically crushed together in one sausage, locked in an eternal death-dance of predator and prey, who wouldn't want that? I haven't eaten many ironic sausages in my time. Also rattlesnakes deserve to be minced, flame-grilled, and eaten, because fuck rattlesnakes. At my wife's work, they once hung a sign up on the door that said, "Be careful when smoking in the smoking area, we've discovered a nest of rattlesnakes outside." Fucking Texas. Back home the worst thing you can discover is a nest of is delightful little fluffy birds. Shit is way calmer back there.
Anyway, on to more serious things. The lamb brisket. Oh my god. It has a rosemary rub on it, and given its stronger natural flavor than beef, combined with the fact that the brisket I received was really just nicely rubbed strands of fat, equalled a taste sensation. It felt like the first time I tried good brisket, only all over again. My face partially melted. I was at one with the lamb brisket. I even momentarily forgot I had just ordered meat by the ounce, a weight measurement I neither understand nor care about.
The beef brisket was a little underwhelming -- for 20 dollars a pound, I expected the meat to eject angels as I bit into it, each of whom would sing me a heavenly song about the holy cow who sacrificed his life to give me this, the most expensive brisket in the world, but there was no religious experience. If anything, the meat was a bit dry, and I had to resort to the sauce, which it should be said was freaking delicious. The rabbit and rattlesnake sausage, which had a delectable char on the outside from an expert flame-grilling, tasted much like your normal pork sausage, only with a slightly gamier edge. It came with a mustard that would literally make your face explode if it contained any more tobasco than it currently does (not that that's a bad thing).
A word of advice if you choose to order the potato salad -- it might look friendly enough, but it has a kick like a mule on enough steroids to kill.... well, to kill a horse, I suppose. I think I've got my superlatives mixed up along the way there. Put it this way: It will make you sweat and carries absolutely no warning whatsoever, because who on earth ever considered a potato salad that is made from 98% lava, 2% potato? Tim Love, that's who.
In summary, lamb brisket. Lamb. Brisket. This is something that all restaurants should immediately start offering, even restaurants where to do so would be a wild departure from the rest of their menu, like a vegetarian curry house. It's for the best that this particular cut of meat, slowly smoked and with a rosemary-infused bark, is allowed to take over the world immediately. Baby sheep, thy time is nigh.
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