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Dallas and BBQ

Dallas and BBQ

Old Jul 22, 16, 3:37 pm
  #1  
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Dallas and BBQ

Met lili at SFO to start another excellent adventure
centering on the wonderful world of beef.

The Centurion Lounge is in the United terminal, and
we were flying American, so this involved an extra
security, which on this occasion set us back no more
than 5 minutes.

The main course offering of Cedric Vongerichten, who
I figure to be some sort of offspring of some famous
guy, was braised beef with parsnip puree: at least it
wasn't called short rib, but it was chucky and fatty
enough to merit that name. I scooped up several of
the fattier pieces from the buffet, saving the less
desirable lean bits for those that appreciate them.
The meat was quite good and the parsnip quite sweet.

A side of cannellini in tomato sauce did not impress,
and I didn't bother with the rest of the vegetative
offerings.

Vanilla panna cotta with lemon glaze and cardamom
crumbs was just fine, especially with the house
pour Remy 1738.

In San Fran, there's a wine tasting opportunity -
they give you a coupon good for 5 free 1-oz pours
of midrange wines out of a machine in addition to
the stuff they pour at the bar. The thing to remember
is that you have to wait a decent interval before
requesting a second pour of the same wine, otherwise
the machine will take away one of your pours, this
presumably to prevent greedy piggies such as myself
from requesting multiple shots of a preferred wine.

lili didn't want to mess with the rigmarole so got
a glass of Hill Estate Merlot, which is perfectly
okay but not as much fun ... so I got her a couple
double shots of Pinot Noir and a single of Merlot.

The Artesa was my recommendation, and it was of a
good standard, plummy and ripe with a bit of that
waxy Napa quality that I think is okay in a Cab
but not so much in a Pinot. lili liked it better
than the Ceja, which was thin and rather brothy, or
I guess fans would call it "elegant."

Farallon Merlot, a brand I know nothing of, was
uninteresting to both of us.
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Old Jul 22, 16, 3:39 pm
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AA 259 SFO DFW 1359 1935 32B 1DF

The catering didn't look or smell too interesting
so we passed on the meal that was offered. All I
recall is that both choices had chicken.

the seats weren't great - better than the 738 seats,
anyone's, but not as comfortable as United's 320 seats
used to be.

We landed on time, not substantially early, so there
was no chance of getting barbecue - Meat U Anywhere,
terrible name but apparently very good meat, closed at
1930 and Bartley's at 2000.

If we'd had unbelievably swift service at the rental
agency and didn't get lost, we might have had a fighting
chance of making closing time at Bartley's; but neither
of these obtained. Service was friendly enough at Avis,
so lili got lulled into buying the gas in the tank at
2.05 (looked like a great deal to her, because in
California it costs maybe 50c more, so if we returned
the car 4/5 empty we'd make out at those prices).
Spoiler: Avis won, but not by more than $5.

Anyhow, we somehow got on the tollway, which is a bad
thing for rental cars. I paid the toll with my credit
card. Secret: the tollways in this part of Texas have
service roads, which are free. Secret #2: they cheat you.
We eventually got retro-billed $17 for toll roads that
we didn't take. I guess it should not be an amazing
secret that Texas cheats.

I was not particularly hungry, but lili needed to eat
something - she eats on a schedule rather than if she
is hungry, and it's a minor miracle she's not fat.
Actually, she eats relatively little but three times a
day. There's a Mexican place not too far from the airport
and sort of on the way to our hotel, called Mi Dia from
Scratch, Mi Dia for short. She was cranky because it
was feeding time, and I was cranky because whatever
nasty crap the airline offered it couldn't be nastier
(especially for me) than the fare at a Tex-Mex
restaurant, even one that gets decent notices.

I was kind of relieved when the hostess quoted a
20-minute wait, but out of politeness or self-preservation
I asked about sitting at the bar, to which the answer was
first come, first served, which was welcome news for
her if not so much for me.

The bartendress was pleasant but on the short side.

lili ordered a combo plate with a number on it - came
as a cheese enchilada, rather bland, standard, a beef
taco with not so much beef in it, standard, rather bland.
Decent beans and tomato rice that was astonishing in its
chemically badness. An overyoung Punto Final Malbec from
Perdriel in the Mendoza was attractively fruity with a
touch of oak; good with the food, of which lili ate most
of her serving, except for that nasty rice.

I stuck with booze.

The height of our server became relevant because of the
multi-tiered beverage storage system. I ordered a flight
of what I thought would be ordinary tequila selections,
all from Cazadores, the agave distillery associated with
the Bacardi company. She had to go and find another
staffer who was tall enough to get the higher-shelf
liquors, which took a few extra minutes, as even he
had to clamber up on the counter to get them.

The Blanco was water-clear, with a mild agave aroma,
quite smooth, almost wimpy. Sweetish. None of these had
a burn to speak of going down except when drunk in
conjunction with a mouthful of the chips and salsa.

Reposado didn't seem as complex as I'd hoped - it was
almost the twin of the blanco, and in retrospect there
might have been a mild flim-flam in the semi-darkness.

The Anejo had a little color and a little oaky aroma;
it was still sweet, but that was muted, and it seemed
more herbal flavor. Also a better finish.

So we ended up reasonably satisfied for not too
awfully much money and continued eastward in the
fading light to the Hampton Inn Dallas-Addison, which
awaited us. This hotel gets great reviews on the net
for its friendliness, but the desk guy on a weekday
evening was taciturn to the point of coma. Not a big
deal, he did his job and sent us expeditiously on
our way.

A perfectly ordinary room on the HHonors level.
Comfy beds.
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Old Jul 22, 16, 3:41 pm
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Meshack Bar-b-que Shack, Garland

This is supposed to be one of the hidden gems, and by
the time we got there at 11:30ish, there was a sizable
line. One of the few places with a mixed-age and mixed-race
clientele (the staff are all black). It's really a shack.

We waited for a while to place our order and then a good
deal longer to get our food. The waiting area is a bunch
of logs in the sun next to the building.

I asked for a Diet Pepsi for lili and was told "we don't
have anything diet," which gave me a chuckle, and I would
have high-fived the order-taker if she hadn't been behind
a hold-up-resistant screen. Regular Pepsi and regular Dr.
Pepper it was, then.

When the food came, the brisket erred on the lean side,
though there were a few promising streaks of intramuscular
fat. It was rather firm; good smoke. By a good margin the
least good of the briskets we had, but still acceptable.

Ribs were very salty, shrivelled, and seemed to have
been exposed to too much heat. The hot sauce, a vinegar
and tomato thing that was actually very tangy and a bit
hot, was needed to redeem both the meats, but I took most
of the ribs back for a rainy day - they sat around for I
believe three days before being consumed, and like the
famed McDonalds food they hadn't changed a bit.

Our next stop was the newish Plano outlet of Lockhart
Smokehouse, which many deem better than the original in
downtown Dallas, which many see as reason not to have
to drive to Lockhart any more.

Free 4-hour parking downtown, but please note that
it's just a couple blocks from the Dallas light rail.

It's a nondescript storefront with a bar in front and
the pit in back. Seating was not generous bot adequate
for a weekday midday - I don't know, maybe 40 tops.

I recognized the meat cutter from the Internet photos
of the original place.

A bit of a line, despite its being just after the noon
rush. Worth it for the beautiful moist brisket - good
bark, perfectly seasoned, not quite as balanced as the
meat at, say, Franklin or Snow's, but, guess what, I
liked it better, because it was fattier. I could eat
this all day every day. Just to try, I also got a
perfectly moist rib that had a sweetish rub, almost
like char siu but in a good way.

The people in front of me had gotten vast quantities
of mac and cheese, so I decided to take a flyer and
get a pint (I had my pills with me). The stuff was
almost as much cheese as mac, and the infantile appeal,
considerable on its own, was multiplied tenfold by a
lot of dice of jalapeno stirred in.

Sauce here: meh, but you don't need sauce.

Great selection of brewskis.

I'm already making plans for my next visit, as I can
get here easily from the airport (it'll take over an
hour, but it'll be worth it).

Next stop - Hutchins in McKinney, a bit north of the
city, in what was terra incognita for me.

McKinney is another jumper onto the cute Texas historic
town bandwagon. We parked by the courthouse and checked
it out - I thought there was nothing that particularly
stood out; maybe if you wanted a lazy weekend where you
got soaked by hipster-friendly wine bars and bakeries,
it would be a good hideaway. Hutchins is a mile or two
out of town and seems to have cultivated the ramshackle
Q joint atmosphere, not that that's a bad thing. It
looks like Black's inside, but the meat isn't nearly
so enticing. We had a decent semi-moist brisket that
was nothing to write home about, and when I asked for
one rib, the counter guy cut me three small rib ends,
saying that was to make it up to a quarter pound. Well,
it was more like half a pound, but they charged me for
a quarter. The ribs were a bit chewy, though smoky
enough, and they suffered the same shelving as
Meshack's had.

A condiment bar, which was fine; a couple flavors of
sauce, none of which did any favors to the meat.

Soft drinks only.

Back at the hotel a bottle of Stump Jump 12, a Rhone blend
from d'Arenberg that I scorned when in Adelaide but that
seemed like nectar of the gods in the middle of Texas.
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Old Jul 22, 16, 10:45 pm
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^ Lockharts in bishop arts. I know it's a more popular spot but it's my go to living in Dallas proper. And you can typically specify how fatty you want your meat.

Also, our tollway scanners aren't marked, and almost every highway in north Texas have a toll aspect whether it be the full freeway or an express aspect (except 75/central expwy). You probably easily paid $17 in tolls and rental companies might tack in a fee.

Third, not sure what tollway you're referencing, but DNT ("the tollway") does not have service roads south of 635. Hopefully we don't "cheat" you too bad.

Otherwise, hope you enjoy the immense amounts of driving and heat, but more importantly, the meat
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Old Jul 24, 16, 10:16 am
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Hard to tell which toll road did what - we followed
the jabbering lady on the telephone, having told her
to avoid tolls.

Will try the Lockhart downtown ... sometime. I was
thinking of doing a public-trans-only tour next time.
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Old Jul 24, 16, 10:18 am
  #6  
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A lot of our eating was at the Hampton, because it was
cheap free. Sausage gravy with not that much
sausage in it, premade Western omelets, waffles from
a pair of waffle machines that had been abused by
generations of HHonors members who had been unable to
read. We figured, heck, a big free meal, we need only
one or two regular ones later, and not too big ones
at that, a concern as we are entering budget phases
of our lives.

As we had been conned into getting the "return it empty"
option, we decided to give Fort Worth a look.

The Interstate is a mess, being under reconstruction
from what appears to be ground up, and we got lost
a lot, spending half an hour going in circles being
berated by the GPS when we didn't turn off onto a
series of torn-down exits. But what we saw was worth
the hassle.

The Kimbell Art Museum has to be one of the greats
anywhere for its architecture alone. Designed by
the famed nutcase Louis Kahn, the older building
is a self-indulgent gem and I'm not so sure suited
to the display of art (rather to the genius of the
architect), and the new building, by Renzo Piano,
is made to reflect the qualities of the old one.

The art itself, nothing much, just some of the
greatest Picassos, a smattering of Impressionists,
typical works of the first-rate artists from the
last two thousand, maybe three, years, nothing
that you'd see in the books, oh, yeah, Michelangelo's
first painting, which might appear in the books, and
Cranach's Judgment of Paris, and Hals's self-portrait
as a drunken party entertainer, and, well, maybe not
nothing much, I take it back. Them Texans were rich.

Nothing like a day at the museum to get one's appetite
up, so we decided to give Longoria's a try. This is
a bit south of town in an area relatively untouched by
backhoes and earth movers, so we found it easily.

I forget what we'd had before to take away our appetite,
but we just got a fatty brisket sandwich, which was
moderately smoky but erred on the lean side. It was
enough meat, but I bought an appetizing-looking slice
of pound cake, which turned out dryish but still of a
fairly nice texture; the flavors were muddled, a little
of this and a little of that - lemon, almond, vanilla.

The help were extremely friendly. Soft drinks only.

As I'd done my couple days, it was lili's turn to get
her stays in, so we moved over to the Meridien by the
Galleria, which looks to me to be a former Embassy
Suites or maybe Hyatt. It's pretty well kept up, and
we got a suite that put my offering to shame. Points
in favor.

Instead of supper, we decided to eat leftovers and
have drinks at the bar.

The bartender was entertaining and kind of friendly
in a superannuated surfer dude type of way (though
he said he was from and always lived in Texas). He
made a mean margarita out of a mix and poured a big
glass of Velvet Devil 2011 Merlot (pretty decent,
the wine of the week, good fruit and not overtly
sweety disgusting). One good thing he did, though, was
put us over the edge on whether to go to Cattleack,
which he reminded us was just two miles away and
served only on Thursday and Friday, being a caterer
the rest of the week. He waxed superenthusiastic,
and we decided to take his recommendation - it had
been one of half a dozen possibilities for next day.
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Old Jul 24, 16, 10:20 am
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Cattleack. We'd heard stories about how the line
starts half an hour before opening, and when something
is out, it's out, so we showed up half an hour before
opening, and there were maybe half a dozen people
milling around, so we took a seat and let the folks
congregate. A few pulled up in front of us, which given
the relatively sparse crowd wasn't a big deal; a couple
carefully made sure they stayed behind us, which I
figure was somewhat nicer but by no means necessary.

At the appointed time the rather cute wife of the owner
sounded the chow call, and we got in line in the
delightfully smoky restaurant.

I got a half pound of moist brisket, a sausage link, a
rib, and a quarter pound of the special beef cheek
pastrami (1/3 lb maximum order).

The brisket was great. The fat was not quite as soft
as I'd have liked, but the flavor was terrific,
balanced smoke, not too salty.

Sausage perfect, with a good casing snap. i decided to
save most of it for later, figuring it would reheat
okay, which it did.

The rib was a tad chewy and had that sweet-salty rub
that seems to be popular here, but it had enough
internal fat that it was quite decent, actually,
reminding one of what you'd get in the better sort
of Chinese restaurant. By the way, this trip was
the first in which I gave in to the 21st century
and gotten a variety of ribs - when I lived in
Texas half a century ago, I don't think that
they grew pigs in the state, and they certainly
didn't smoke them.

The beef cheek pastrami is supposedly their pride
and joy. It had an enticingly gelatinous texture
(lili went eww) and wonderful moisture. It was
also almost too salty and peppery to eat; good
smoke flavor, though. So I saved most of it for
nibbles later. Guess what. Cold the gelatin
solidifies and the texture is of rubber erasers,
no longer enticing at all. A spell in the nuke at
half power helps but not completely.

Note 1. This was along with Pecan Lodge the most
expensive meat we had, with prices going up to
$22.95/lb (1/3 lb maximum) for the beef cheek
pastrami.

Note 2. On the other hand, as the place doesn't
have a license, there's a cooler of beers out
front with a sign that says one per person, help
yourself. I got a Lone Star to see if it's as
nasty as I recall it having been four to five
decades ago - it is - and a Shiner Bock for lili.
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Old Jul 25, 16, 3:37 pm
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The Dallas Museum of Art - a whole day trip, pretty
much. Not better than its Kimbell rival, but
certainly its equal, with much more volume but
maybe not as cherry-picked. An eccentric and
confusing layout, which is reflected in its
eccentric and confusing Website. I'll come back,
especially as it's a quick DART ride from there
to the

Pecan Lodge, where we arrived in the late afternoon
on a day when they are open for dinner, so we got
fresh new food with hardly a wait at all.

There's not much I can say about this restaurant
except that it's now a restaurant - a lot of the
mentions on the Internet say it's a food stall in
a farmer's market type arrangement, but it's moved,
even though Google Maps doesn't think so. The food
is of an exceedingly high standard, but what I had
was in fact standard. Of course, there are weird
things on the menu, but I didn't get any of them
(e.g. a loaded baked sweet potato with barbecue
on top). Oh, yeah, a very important thing to say
- you can bypass the line if you go to the bar
and have a drink and ask the bartender to order
food for you.

We split a plate of moist brisket, superb, perhaps
worth its position in the Texas Monthly top 4 along
with Franklin and Snow's (which I do prefer) and
Louie Mueller's (which I don't, though it is very
good, as good perhaps as the brisket made by
other Mueller people).

The ribs were good but not as good, an afterthought,
in my opinion overbrined but tasty enough.

We also got an unadvertisedly spicy (tiny dice of
jalapeno) red cabbage slaw which I liked pretty well.

The Stone Rose Cabernet had a tart edge and went well
with the brisket. Kind of expensive for an off-brand
wine that I thought from the name to be a local
product (it turns out really to be from Napa).

For me, the chocolaty spicy Tupps Tuppkin porter,
which went well enough with the meal that I had a
couple, despite my general dislike of spiced beers
(nutmeg advertised in this one, but luckily not so
much in evidence).

Followed by the more typical Peticolas Golden
Opportunity, a German-style pilsner that is claimed
to be a Kolsch. A bit grainy tasting for the style,
almost as though it were trying to straddle the
American and German styles. Good to wash down the
peppers in the slaw.
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Old Jul 25, 16, 4:57 pm
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Originally Posted by violist View Post
The Dallas Museum of Art - a whole day trip, pretty
much. Not better than its Kimbell rival, but
certainly its equal, with much more volume but
maybe not as cherry-picked. An eccentric and
confusing layout, which is reflected in its
eccentric and confusing Website. I'll come back,
especially as it's a quick DART ride from there
to the
Next time you're around, try out Meadows Museum on SMU's campus if you haven't already. Fantastic selection of Spanish art when their permanent collection is out. They often have pieces from the Prado on display via some "sharing" program they have with them, and have also had some very cool temporary exhibits come through. It's a small museum, won't take up much time at all and it's conveniently in Highland Park which is accessible to both Downtown and the northern suburbs.
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Old Jul 26, 16, 6:50 am
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Pecan Lodge is the only one in that area worth anything. And it's superb
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Old Jul 27, 16, 9:33 am
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Thanks for posting this. If I'm ever in the area (haven't been since 1980) I'll come back to this thread - sounds like you have exhaustively surveyed the Metroplex BBQ scene
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Old Jul 29, 16, 5:36 pm
  #12  
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Bartley's, in Grapevine not far from the airport,
was our last stop. We split a plate -

moist brisket was very moist, good marbling, but
not much of a ring, and the bark wilted by sitting on
the steam table: the flavor was quite good;

ribs were fattyish and not all that well trimmed, which
might put some off, but I enjoyed them; they were not of
the absolute freshest, and I could detect a slight edge
of that weird fishiness that not-greatest pork gets just
before it starts to go slimy. The counter man gave us an
extra rib, so I guess they hadn't been selling as well
as they'd expected.

There were turnip greens on the sides table. lili
thought they were okra (who has the defective eyesight?)
and I thought they were collards. I got myself a big
serving with lots of extra pot likker. These had been
cooked with a ham bone and were very good.

Fried okra were way too irregular to be a factory
product - they were excellent, the corn coating tasting
like hushpuppy of the best sort, the bigger pieces
very okra-y and green slimy in a good sense, the small
pieces crunchy and greasy in the good sense.

lili wanted cowboy beans, which came as small brown
beans cooked almost to explosion in a cuminy gravy.
Quite moreish.

This is a BYOB place (big sign out front), and our
bring was the Baritone Maxim Shiraz Cab 13, a decent
Australian blend mostly I believe from the Barossa,
slightly acid but with pleasant spice and bite, good
with barbecue.

We dawdled a bit and got slightly lost (the Google
Maps lady gets confused with several parallel roads
in close proximity, and the construction information
is by no means up to date) and so returned the car
with mere minutes to spare.

PreCheck was quite speedy despite there being lots
of infrequent flyers in the lane (how does this
happen?), so we had over an hour at the slightly
elitist and pseudo-posh Centurion Lounge to savor
Remy 1738 and various Dean Fearing oddities of which
blackened asparagus was the nicest. There was a rather
fishy brown sausage and shrimp gumbo over overcooked
Texmati rice and sage-roasted chicken thighs with
caramelized onions that might have been a good idea
but lost a considerable bit in the execution - the
meat tasted like boiled chicken, but it had hard
dried out edges. Desserts looked dreadful, so I
stuck with Cognac.

UA 510 DFW IAH 1706 1820 320 2E

A nothing but strangely elite-heavy flight, and I was
lucky to get the last front seat and happy that it was
a good one. A half hour flight, and there was plenty
of time to enjoy Pappadeaux or the club; I chose the
latter because it was free.

UA1953 IAH BOS 1930 0019 739 3F

The flight attendant announced a choice of beef
provincial or garlicky shrimp with cheese grits. I
said I'd take either, being distrustful of both
provincial and cheese grits.

The beef turned out to be a stewed concoction in
a tomato-scented but not flavored sweetish extremely
salty brown gravy with crushed olives, vaguely in a
southern French (provincial, get it?) style, with
carrot, celery, and potato bits on the side. It
could be eaten, if one left the gravy behind, but
even so I blew up like a balloon shortly afterward.
from the sodium.

-end-
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