Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Smoke - Dallas

Smoke has been on my radar for quite a while but this is not the kind of place that you can just tuck into a BBQ Adventure.  The class and spectacle of Smoke begs you to make a night of it.  I finally had a night available to dedicate to visiting Smoke.

Smoke has a great menu that features what I would call “New Texas” cuisine.  It is a meat heavy menu that takes traditional Texas flavors and offers a twist.  Several items were intriguing but we were here for the barbecue. 


THE MEATS

We made our selections of the smoked sausage, the coffee cured beef brisket and the BBQ pork spare ribs.

Smoked Sausage appetizer from Smoke - Dallas

The house-made sausage came out as an appetizer.  The presentation was top notch as each of the four slices were marked with small flags noting the type of animal they came from: pig, lamb, cow, rabbit.  The pork was the winner of the plate.  This Andouille sausage had a slight bite to it.  The lamb was good as well and featured light mint notes.  The beef sausage was a little too heavy on the fennel for my liking, giving it a heavy licorice flavor.  The rabbit was expectedly dry and rather un-notable.

Sliced Brisket sits on a pile of Chopped Brisket at Smoke Dallas

The main course of coffee cured brisket came out in two forms.  Two slices of brisket were draped over a helping of chopped beef.  The slices of beef carried a sliver of delicious well rendered fat.  The meat itself was rather dry and surprisingly did not carry much smoke.  The coffee also did not influence the flavor as the crust did not carry any sort of coffee notes.  The chopped brisket was also dry but it was infused with more smoke than the slices carried.  Honestly, other than the presentation, there was little separating this brisket from run-of-the-mill places around the state.
The pork ribs at Smoke - Dallas

The spare ribs carried a glaze over a loose rub.  There was not really any crust on these ribs and the glaze and seasonings mixed for a displeasing grainy texture.  The glaze offered a slight sweetness that was distracted by the other seasonings.  They were trying to do too much with this rib.  The meat was firm and required quite a bit of pull to free the meat from the bone.  Though the rib did carry a bit of smoke, this was not a very enjoyable rib.

THE REST

The meats were served with a selection of four house sauces.  I sampled the Carolina influenced sauces of mustard/horseradish and spicy vinegar.  I did not have the necessary pulled pork to give them a fair shake, but found them rather un-notable.  The sauce described as the “Texas Sauce” had a slight spice but was pretty bland.  The other sauce, a tomato based concoction, may have been the best one but they all seemed pretty dull.

Our entrees came with some mac & cheese and potato salad along with garnishment of pickled green beans and bread & butter pickles.  The sides were welcomed and tasted fine.  Other sides of interest on the menu included crispy German potatoes and hominy casserole.

While the BBQ was a miss, there is still a menu of other intriguing dishes such as the cabrito & masa, chicken tamales and the bricked Cornish hen.  Other barbecue dishes included pulled whole hog, a smoked pork chop and “The Big Rib,” a beef rib adorned with chimichurri.  The best sounding menu of all may be the brunch menu that features a heavy amount of smoked meats.

The drinks are another focus at Smoke.  Some cocktails included house-infusions of cedar wood tequila and maple wood whiskey.
SMOKE spelled out prominently outside Smoke Dallas

Smoke is located next to the Belmont Hotel and $5 valet parking is the only option I found that did not require a degree of hassle.  The atmosphere inside is upscale, but not pretentiously so.  It’s a hip place with plenty of tables scattered around the central bar.  Service is friendly and attentive.

THE VERDICT

After fabulous experiences at places like Lambert’s and Woodshed Smokehouse, I was very disappointed with Smoke.  The menu itself is terrific, but the execution was far from it.  Despite the prominent “SMOKE” signage outside the building, the smoke on the dishes inside the building was an afterthought.  The sausage sampling plate was the highpoint on this visit and the average brisket beat out the pork ribs.  The presentation was fancy, but this was very average barbecue at a premium price.  The promising brunch menu and a set of enjoyable companions is probably the only thing that would draw me back into Smoke.


Address: 901 Fort Worth Ave, Dallas, TX 75208
Phone: 214-393-4141
Hours: Sunday - Thursday: 8AM - 10PM; Friday - Saturday: 8AM - 11PM

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*All Grades Are Based Solely on the Quality of Texas BBQ Offered at the Joint. We Aren't Looking for Burgers or Catfish!

My Grading Scale:


A = This is some of the finest BBQ you'll find anywhere. It is worth a roadtrip in itself along with any required wait.
B = This is very good BBQ, even if it is over an hour away, consider making the drive.
C = This is just average BBQ but it's worth a stop in a pinch.
D = This is a poor example of Texas BBQ. Even if it's the only place around, skip it. Apologize to any non-Texans that have eaten here.
F = This is not only a bad Texas BBQ, it is probably not suitable for human consumption.

 
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