Monday, September 2, 2013
Restaurant review: FM Smokehouse’s lean meat fails to impress
The owners of Holy Grail Pub are taking a stab at the BBQ scene, but their meat is a little dry.
IRVING It's no secret that Texas barbecue is the cat's meow these days. With the renaissance being centered on Austin and Dallas, you can even find the Texas style being replicated at Brisket Town and Hill Country Barbecue and Market located in New York. Riding the coat tail from Daniel Vaughn being the nation's first ever Barbecue Editor for Texas Monthly which corresponded with Texas Monthly’s Top 50 list issue — smoked meat is hot and it doesn't look to be cooling off anytime soon.
We’ve also seen a recent rise in the Dallas/Fort Worth region of newly opened barbecue restaurants from owners that have other restaurants. Jack Perkins of Maple & Motor burger fame chipped in his two cents with The Slow Bone earlier in the spring while Kenny Bower's from the beloved Kenny's chains put his hand in the pot with Kenny's Smoke House opening at the Shops at Legacy in January of this year. It only made sense for the owners of Plano's The Holy Grail Pub to take a swing at the local barbecue scene.
Brian and Christi Rudolph found success at the forefront of local bars celebrating the craft beer movement when they opened The Holy Grail Pub in 2009. Since then, they've done barbecues at the pub ever so often with brisket, ribs, pulled pork and other smoked meat being offered. When the decision was made to take the occasional barbecue to the next level — the corporate-oriented location of Irving was a savvy business move on their behalf since there is minimal barbecue competition within reach.
After reading some decent reviews from local food critics but hearing some dismal reviews from others who enjoy smoked meat, FM Smokehouse has been on my local list since their conception. They’ve now been open six months and I reckon this to be enough time for the kinks to be worked out; service wise and more importantly, food wise.
I arrived at this former Bennigan’s location before the lunch crowd with anticipation for freshness sake. After taking a gander at the menu, they, like their sister restaurant The Holy Grail Pub, have a strong craft beer list and even more impressive whiskey selection. As far as the food goes, it’s a healthy compilation of rural southern cuisine. With a refreshing choice of sandwiches and main dishes like chicken fried steak and brisket Frito pie, they never stray from the smoky roots provided by an Ole Hickory gas-assisted smoker.
My decision fell upon the three meat plate with two sides. Unfortunately they do not smoke pork ribs so I settled on the pulled pork option. It appeared as if all meat was served with sauce on top so I requested it on the side. I asked about the cut of brisket that is served with lean being the answer so I had my order amended for moist. The corn-meal fried okra and tri-color coleslaw were the meat companions I ordered from the attractive list of sides.
When served, the brisket was rather lean, dry and trimmed of all crust which my server quickly corrected with bark lined fatty brisket. I took a bite of the brisket and found a delectable mix of a pecan and hickory smoked flavor but the underdone chewy texture was a disappointment. My experience with the pulled pork offered even less smoke and the same dry character. You will often find this poor quality due to fat not being rendered thoroughly in the meat. The highlight of the plate was the house made spicy sausage, although loosely packed with a soft casing. The okra and coleslaw were riding a train of blandness that salt and pepper could’ve easily fixed.
As with any topic, food related or not, there will always been an abundance of personal opinions. Because everyone doesn't always appreciate fatty goodness where the best flavor is, you have customers who prefer lean as opposed to those who recognize the significance of moist meat. Since consistency is the name of the game in barbecue — experiences vary as well just like personal palates.
By the time I left, a steady lunch crowd made up of the white collar type were arriving. With the choice restaurant location, they have it locked in for lunch and with a substantial drink list, they probably capitalize on happy hour crowd as well. With that being said — it's too bad the smoked meat doesn’t take precedence.
Pegasus News Content partner - Wood. Smoke. Meat
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