The things I do for the two loyal readers who remain... To my own potential detriment, a special trip was made to Chef Tim Love's new restaurant, the Woodshed Smokehouse, so that the eaters of Fort Worth can finally decide whether or not to eat there. Sometimes the burden is so great... This was not one of those times.
If you have not been to the Woodshed, get in line and do it soon. Not because the Woodshed is going anywhere - quite the opposite. But you need to go so that you don't have to admit to your friends that you haven't been. The new restaurant, right on the river, has a unique and refreshing menu, great ambiance, and will be the place to go for awhile.
My trip was made on the only cold day we've had all year which meant the patio was open but not attended by waitstaff. That didn't seem to bother the people in the photo below, nor the additional people that headed outdoors during the meal. The patio includes a wooden deck with picnic tables and then a pea gravel area with regular tables and chairs which leads to the stage set up on the far side of the patio. Throughout the patio there are heaters, fire pits for wood burning fires and a fence and gate along the Trinity Trail that serves double duty preventing Tim Love from raising a crocodile or three eyed fish flag (more about that to come).
|Hipster View of Woodshed Smokehouse Patio|
The theme behind the Woodshed appears to be refined barbeque with a global twist. Sure, there are ribs and other grilled meats, but you're missing out if you stick with the "Traditional Q". Every dish has a smoked component, whether its the protein, the acorn squash, olives, or your newly delicious jacket once you leave. That's not true - we were there on a cold day with the patio doors closed and didn't leave smelling like bbq. And I think that's sort of the point. There is a smokiness to everything but its not the only thing. The flavors of the food, because of its quality are also very evident. And regarding the flag - as part of the non-traditional bbq joint theme, Chef Love uses a different meat depending on the day and to recognize that meat, a flag is hung at the entrance. For this trip, the meat of the day was sheep. I don't think the animal will ever come from the river, but keep an eye out.
In an effort to try as many dishes as possible, two guests joined me this time - Mrs. FWHITW and FWHITW Senior. Brave souls, they were, allowing me to try each of thier dishes and agreeing that we'd get a smattering of different items.
To begin we ordered the smoked almonds, the house pickles and a 1/2 pound of pork ribs. The almonds were served in an ashtray looking bowl of chili salt. They had a mild smokiness and the chili salt provided a flavor that wasn't spicy or too salty but added a nice complexity. When have you heard me talk about complexity in a review? Once. Because I was confused as to how to eat a dish. The pork ribs were loved by all as the meat easily came off the bone, was incredibly flavorful and served with a small side of delicious and somewhat spicy sauce. And of course, the pickles. I don't know what portions are smoked, but here's what came with the house pickles order: camp bread, kimchi, jalapeno/onion/carrot slaw, smoked arbol chilis, and cucumber pickles. We all enjoyed the kimchi but my favorite was the arbol chilis. They were hot, but not spicy and a little sweet. When the Mrs. intimated that she preferred the kimchi a divorce nearly occurred based on irreconcilable differences. But then I remembered how good the kimchi was. Kimchi, if you were wondering, is Korean food. According to Kim Jong Il, its "Super-great-best Happy Korea food better than American gruel". He was right.
|Happy appetizers - so unaware of their fate. And see those bowls on the left? |
Remember those when you order this dish - because I licked them.
After devouring the appetizers it was time for the main course. Instead of ordering one of the large plates, we ordered a handful of small plates so we could all share. I voted for this option and since I was paying my companions reluctantly agreed. Senior Hole ordered the meat of the day which included a pile of tender mutton, tortillas, cotija cheese and two delicious sauces. Our waitress couldn't remember what all came in the darker garlicky sauce, but the green sauce, she explained, was chopped jalapeno, sugar and vinegar. Both were fantastic and made for a great taco with the slow roasted sheep. On your first visit, regardless of the meat of the day, get this. It's a good entrance to the theme.
The "fallen vegetarian" Mrs. had the local acorn squash with Tuaca and a smoked pepper hollandaise (Dutch for tulip cream). I didn't get a good photo but the dish included a quartered roasted squash, topped with a dark brown sugar sauce and pumpkin seeds. Though somewhat sweet, this was a fantastic dish and definitely a good item to get for a vegetarian or a table of four to share. In fact, if anybody near you gets this, sneak a bite - regardless of their table. A later discussion with Chef Love confirmed that he wants people to eat off of other tables. You can trust that.
For myself (and presumably the table) I ordered the day's sausage and the bourbon and coke marinated pork bahn mi. As you probably know, "bahn mi" is a Vietnamese sandwich normally containing pork and pickled vegetables. Woodshed's version is a Remember The Alamo, Come and Take It, Ten Gallon, Eight Second, Texas sized, bigger than anything lousy Oklahoman version of the bahn mi. The dish comes with pork so tender it could pass for a meat soup (note to Chef Love - put meat soup on the menu) and is topped with the pickled jalapeno/onion/carrot mixture. It also is served with handmade tortillas softer than a Patriot's pass rush (timely?), limes and some cotija cheese for sprinkling on top. If you weren't licking the screen at meat soup, leave town you kimchi loving commie. Needless to say, the dish was great.
But I'm saving the best for last. The sausage of the day. I'm a venison fan and this trip landed on Venison day in sausage land (does it feel like I'm setting this up for a juvenile joke?). The sausage of the day is served with house pickles (the cucumber version - but I would ask if they could switch it out for the arbol chilis next time) and homemade mustard. I have never had a sausage (venison, pork, beef, chicken or unicorn) that tasted as good as Chef Love's..... Lets see how that sentence impacts google searches. The link was cut into bite sized pieces that were each tender, delicious and lacking in the grainy textures many venison sausages obtain due to poor processing. The venison was so good the fallen vegetarian gave in and ate more than I allotted.
|Meat of the day - Sheep. I'm not saying this place is haunted, but that blurry |
figure in black is Tim Love and he wasn't there when I took this photo.
After taking a review of everybody at the table, the results were unanimous - the place is great. We had nothing bad to say. Some liked one dish better than another but all the food was fantastic. Each item was well prepared and added tremendous flavor to the dish. The atmosphere is great and when the weather warms up there will be trouble finding seats.
If you haven't gone, you need to make a trip. Though it sounds like we ordered a lot of food, with two beers and a tea, the total came to $60. We could have easily fed a fourth without anybody going hungry. One person could have an appetizer or side, a small plate, and two drinks for under $30. That's not a bad price for a great meal in a great setting.
In other good news, the patio is dog friendly and the Woodshed is meant to cater to people using the river to travel. Check it out and let me know what you think.
You can visit the Woodshed Smokehouse online to check out the menu or just go and be surprised.
The Woodshed Smokehouse is open daily at 7 am (I don't know if breakfast has begun yet) and lunch is served starting at 11 am.