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It’s clarified, seasoned drippings from all the restaurant’s meats, and it’s wickedly good.
I hold off ordering hickory-smoked artichokes with lemon and Parmesan, knowing my friends will want it on my next visit — but blimey, the restaurant runs out when I return.
The restaurant struggles to keep up with the demand, the chef later tells me.A couple of terrific salads make up for it, though — a brightly earthy toss of kale gussied up with bits of guanciale, smoked pepitas and generous shavings of Manchego cheese.
Or shaved fennel with just the right touch of Bosc pear, crumbled cauliflower and a perfect citrus vinaigrette.I also love a whole head of cauliflower smoked over oak, sliced into thick slabs and dressed with olive oil, lemon and a whisper of chile arbol.
How fantastic to see a pit master treat vegetables with such care.Every day, a different hickory-smoked sausage is featured, and one evening I luck into duck. The chunks of glistening links, rich, flavorful and wonderfully smoky, come with mustard and good sliced pickles.
It’s a little underseasoned, but there’s a nice touch of smoke there, too (mesquite) and folded into a taco with salsas (one sweet-hot, another caramelized oniony), it’s pretty good.One section of the menu offers three “dining with friends” spreads, each designed to serve four, for $75 to $90. The smoke flavor is righteous, but the rice, soggier than paella should be, is nearly overwhelmed by jalapenos.And unfortunately, the shin isn’t nearly as striking flavorwise as it is visually. Tender, yes, but despite 16 hours in the smoker, the hickory hasn’t fully permeated the meat, which is also quite underseasoned. There’s a bowl of lime wedges; a squeeze on the meat and a dollop of good borracho beans all wrapped in a tortilla seems the best strategy.
The beef ribs, nicely spiced with cumin, are big and meaty; the perfectly tender pork ribs yield to just the right tug of the tooth — they’re outstanding, with the barest touch of sweetness in their smoked-in glaze. No sauce wanted on these!Under “New Q,” a hickory-smoked game bird du jour — Cornish hen — was nice enough, but setting it on a swamp of liquidy braised spelt dragged it down.
On a quiet weeknight, a server bluffed his way through advice about the modest list of beers on draft. There’s also a small selection of decent wines on tap (served in plastic cups, like the beer), and — though no one ever mentioned it — a reserve list. It strikes me as odd, as Love is such a leader when it comes to Texas cooking, that none of the wines are from Texas.The busy night I dined with six friends, our brave waiter did the best he could.
He kept darting off when one of us was midsentence — to fetch us something, perhaps, but it was off-putting. Two months after opening, there are clearly kinks remaining to work out.Still, despite its problems, Woodshed Smokehouse is most definitely a destination — and if you order right, a terrific one. You can take a walk, as we did, along the river before or after dinner (or lunch, or breakfast pastries, which are served, along with breakfast tacos, in the mornings). In the future, the restaurant even plans to offer bike rentals.It’s more than a good barbecue spot. A decent selection of beers on tap; limited selection of wines on tap, and a small reserve list, none from Texas.
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