It’s safe to say that we’ve been looking forward to the opening of the Smoky Rose in East Dallas for some time. We’ve salivated over the photos of “refined rustic” meats that littered their press release, and wondered just how a “chef-driven smokehouse” would play out.
Located just across the street from the Dallas Arboretum, Smoky Rose, now open, welcomes patrons with a short walk from their ample parking lot, through the garden/patio area, past the smokehouse and into the main dining room. The interior is clean and bright with something of a farmhouse vibe. The main dining room dominates the right side of the space and is brightly lit from walls of windows on two sides. To the left of the entrance is the bar area, with seating for 12 at the L-shaped bar, plus additional bar-height tables.
Speaking of the bar, Smoky Rose features a well stocked one. The taps feature around 15 domestic and craft brews, with at least twice as many in cans or bottles. The wine list dominates half the menu, with offerings by the glass or the bottle, while a small selection of craft cocktails flesh out the drink menu.
A large but as yet unfurnished patio will allow visitors to dine al fresco in the shadow of the arboretum. The furniture will arrive early February, Smoky Rose’s sales manager Audrey McClanahan says, and a patio grand opening is tentatively scheduled for Feb. 25. Once the arboretum’s spring concerts begin, McClanahan sees Smoky Rose being an ideal launch pad for people to stop in before the show and perhaps grab a “lunchbox” to take into the arboretum.
Appetizers at the Smoky Rose will appeal to both the vegetarians and carnivores in your party, with standbys such as queso and guacamole or chicken wings, as well as more refined options such as a garden crudite featuring black bean hummus, or a rotating selection of smoked meats and cheeses on the smokehouse charcuterie. We opted for the deviled eggs and were taken by the visuals of the beet-brined eggs and the creamy flavor of the pureed yolks.
During lunch, the offerings focus on a series of sandwiches highlighted by the meats from the smokehouse, along with a selection of sides. If you like, you can order meats by the half pound, and Smoky Rose is churning out pulled pork, chicken, turkey, ribs and Niman Ranch brisket. The restaurant also makes two kinds of sausage in-house, a regular “house recipe” and a jalapeño cheese link. We ordered a half pound of lean brisket, the jalapeño sausage and a side of sweet potato and roasted banana mash and got to work.
As opposed to the moist cut, lean brisket can be more of a challenge to do well, but Smoky Rose succeeds admirably in this regard. Our half-pound order featured three thick slices, with the fat cap trimmed to about a quarter inch, and a thin bark covering the top. The brisket was incredibly moist and somehow stayed that way through most of the meal.
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Struggling to find fault, our only wish would be for a little more seasoning in the rub which might help amplify the smokiness. The two jalapeño cheese sausage links sported a finely ground blend of meats, fresh jalapeños and veins of cheese throughout. So full of cheese was the sausage that tiny rivers of melted cheese oozed out each time we cut off a bite. The sweet potato mash was an excellent choice among the side offerings, and our plate was finished with two triangles of white bread and a stack of house-made pickles. Finally, a tangy tomato-based barbecue sauce is available should you feel inclined to sauce your ’cue.
Three desserts are on the menu, and our waiter suggested the warmed apple spice cake served with Henry’s vanilla ice cream. Admittedly, you could put Henry’s ice cream on a flip flop and people would eat it, but the warm mini-bundt cake pairs happily. Both the cake and the ice cream were drizzled with caramel sauce, but it was difficult to find bits of apple in the otherwise delicious cake.
By design, Smoky Rose is more than just a barbecue smokehouse. It has the feel of a restaurant nice enough to take your out-of-town guests, with enough variety to the menu to please all-comers. In addition, the cozy bar and drink selection (as well as the expansive patio, when furnished) will surely draw locals to the growing dining scene in East Dallas.
Smoky Rose, 8602 Garland Road