Barbecue Overload in the Big D

Work takes me all over the state.   All that business travel was a huge inspiration for this blog.   Most of the time, I’m traveling to glamorous destinations like Eagle Pass, Rio Grande City or Odessa.   At the same time, I also get to take trips to more cosmopolitan locations like Dallas or Houston.   This week the roll of the dice took me to Dallas.   Usually, a trip to Dallas means a visit to one of my Metroplex staples—Neighborhood Services, Lockhart Smokehouse, Joe T. Garcia’s or Wingfeld’s.    This time I decided to expand my repertoire of Dallas restaurants and hit two off of D Magazine’s top 100 restaurants.

Within 45 minutes of touchdown at Love Field, I was standing in line at Slow Bone on Irving Ave., just west of Downtown.   I’d read some positive feedback on line, but the positive buzz really did not do Slow Bone justice.    Slow Bone totally lived up to the hype.    img_4234

Slow Bone has the typical cafeteria line where your meat is cut for you at the counter and you get to see your sides before you order.   First of all, the selection of meats included all the staples with one extra little twist.   Slow Bone offers a cilantro sausage in addition to the traditional sausage.   I came in with an intent to simply get turkey, maybe chicken in an effort to quell my red meat excess.   For some reason it did not happen.   After staring down the meats while waiting my turn, I gleefully abandoned my best intentions and ordered the three meat plate.   What sold it for me was the brisket…they offer lean or fatty.   God bless them…I hate when barbecue joints call it “marbled” or “moist”.   We all know what makes it marbled…what makes it moist…it’s the FAT!    With a tip of the hat to their honesty, I made my first meat Slow Bone’s fatty brisket.

Lately, I have been all about the ribs.   Usually, I feel cheated by ribs.   I mean it is a meat named after a bone???   That means I’m paying for bone…not meat.   Still, I have been digging the flavor of the rib meat so meat number two was Slow Bone’s pork rib.

Finally, I was intrigued by Slow Bone’s choice to provide a different type of sausage to its customers.   As I’ve been chasing the weight loss for so long, I do not eat sausage anymore.   Still it was different and I am a slave to trying something new.   As a result, meat number 3 was the smoky cilantro sausage.

Something that really sets Slow Bone apart from your standard barbecue joint, comes with your choice of sides.    Unfortunately, I can’t eat the vast majority of these sides, but it did not stop me from salivating all over them as I ordered a double serving of greens.   To my eye, the sweet potato casserole, cauliflower and brussel sprouts gratin and horseradish potato salad looked the best.   My plate also came with cornbread or hushpuppies…or rather would have if I was not so dang dedicated to not eating carbs.    I may have waffled on the red meat plan, but I could not just dump all my discipline out the window.   Still the hushpuppies looked dangerously delicious.

After my plate was filled and bill was paid, I got to finally enjoy my bounty.    I like to eat one thing at a time and always start with whatever looks the least appealing to me.   Now understand this is not a neurotic requirement for me.   I can switch back and forth between items and I don’t care if my food gets mixed up.   I just like to get rid of whatever I have no anticipation for.    Anticipation is what makes life so exciting so I like to elongate that feeling for as long as possible.   On this day, my problem was I was anticipating all of it.   By process of elimination I decided to go with the greens first.   The greens were good…not Killen’s good, but still top notch.   There was so much greens with the double dose that I found it onerous to finish them so I could start on the meat.   Still I soldiered through and ate my vegetables.

Now I was back at square one…which meat do I want the least.   My thought process went as follows:   First of all, I really was stuffed from the greens.   I had some concern I might not be able to eat all the meats.   I knew I had to at least taste the sausage, but it was also probably the meat I was most anticipating so it could not be first.   Brisket is almost always my favorite barbecue.   It is a staple of Texas barbecue and Slow Bone called it “fatty”.   How could I risk missing out on that.   At the same time the ribs were so meaty…and I could smell them as I leaned over my plate.   There was the obvious smoke, but also something sweet under that.   Then there is that rib craving that has been driving my barbecue choices lately.    In the end my rib lust with a tip of the hat to my need to try the new sausage experience won out.    I went ribs, cilantro sausage with brisket to follow if I had the room.

The ribs were killer.   The best I may have ever had.    Historically, Ken’s in Amber, Oklahoma has been my standard for ribs.   Ken’s is not real barbecue, but they were just so good, I never cared.   Well, Slow Bone on this day was better…and they did it as true barbecue.

The sausage was solid.    The cilantro gave the sausage a mild taste that surprised me a little.   It also was not a particularly coarse ground sausage.   I am a big fan of the coarse ground.   That being said, I still enjoyed the sausage, but it was not as special as I hoped.

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Finally, the brisket was top tier.   I got the end of the brisket.   That means I got bark on three sides.   Normally, you would think jackpot, but I have found that that much bark can be overpowering.   Too often all I can taste is the smoke and char, with too little of the fat and meat coming through.   In this case, it was a close call, but the fat and meat prevailed.    On this day, the brisket fell short of Lockhart Smokehouse, Black’s and my other favorites.   At the same time it was very good and I don’t think any patron would be disappointed.

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