Woodshed Smokehouse (3201 Riverfront) held its soft opening last night on Fort Worth's Trinity Trails, playing to a large crowd of cowboy-booted TCU students and what was very likely the entire medical community of Tarrant County. Seriously, everyone was wearing scrubs. Or purple.
Chef Tim Love's newest project has the look and feel of everything that old money can buy can in new Fort Worth. Like barbecue and valet. Obviously.
Fort Worth is in the middle of the annual shitstorm that is the Stock Show and Rodeo, so the traffic was horrendous, but we braved the I-30/I-35 clusterfuck and dropped by. What we found was an airy, upscale picnic surrounded by the quiet, woody trails hugging the Trinity River. Woodshed offers diners a covered patio seat or open picnic table near the live music stage, while caged wood smokers in the yard give the whole place a my-grandpa-is-totally-here aura. Piles of wood camp along the smokehouse's walls, each pile with its own chalkboard sign indicating its type. It's an obvious, modern homage to an old Texas backyard, and it's really very comforting.
As you'll see on the menu below, Love has embraced his North Texas roots and built an homage to the classic backyard barbecue. However, something I never had at my creepy uncle's house in July was a slab of thick camp bread with pit-master fat for dipping. Yes, that's right, they serve a cup of fat. And it's dripping with salt and deep, smoky flavor. Paired with the smoked whitefish dip and a glass (or three) of the bar's toxic Texas Punch, you've already forgotten about traffic.
Woodshed offers a short but diverse menu of barbecue-inspired dishes, as you can see in the pictures below. If you appreciate cute things, each dish has a leaf next to it that indicates which type of wood was used in the process. The brisket-stuffed piquillo peppers were colorful and simple. The Coke Pork Bahn Mi with pickled chiles is served with smoky rice and more of that camp bread that is impossible to not chew on like you're one of those cows down at the stockyards. After all the smokiness and barbecueness and camp breadiness, the blackberry cobbler is tart and warm and served with a huge scoop of rich vanilla ice cream. And then your head explodes. Luckily there are a bunch of doctors around to operate on your exploded head.
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Perhaps the greatest part of Woodshed is watching those poor bastards jogging along the Trinity Trails stop and wander into the restaurant with a "must find that smell" look on their face. I hope they order the cup of fat.