When writers Janice Shay and Helen Thompson set out to find a Dallas restaurant doing right by beef, they thought they'd end up in a steakhouse.
Instead, the pair of former Texas Monthly contributors was most impressed by Smoke, chef Tim Byres' upscale paean to down-home cooking. Byres shared his recipes for rib eye, dry-rubbed beef short rib, beef sausage and hominy casserole with the authors of The Big Texas Steakhouse Cookbook, set for release this spring.
"Here's the deal," explains Shay, who now lives in Savannah, Georgia. "I had gotten Pat Sharpe and June Naylor to put together a list of restaurants for me, and they didn't include Tim."
But Shay wandered into Smoke while she was staying at the Hotel Belmont.
"I was just blown over by his concept," she says.
Byres doesn't style his restaurant as a steakhouse, but was pleased to be included in a book devoted to the glories of Texan beef tissue.
"I think [Shay] was impressed with the beef flavor," Byres says. "It's cool to be published."
Shay says the inclusion of an artisanal restaurant that doesn't sell beef by the ounce or offer all the standard steak trimmings doesn't bode badly for the future of the classic Texas steak experience. Other restaurants featured in the book include such stalwart steakhouses as the Big Texan in Amarillo and Perini Ranch in Buffalo Gap.
"I was so happy to go to the Fort Worth stockyards and see these classic steakhouses alive and well," Shay says. "I hope it never changes."