The Day Lockhart Smokehouse Broke Our Hearts
A couple of weeks ago, we were in the mood for some great BBQ. It was a late Sunday afternoon, and was really bitingly cold, so we figured the line at Pecan Lodge would be shorter than usual. When we drove by (at roughly 2:15), we saw there wasn't even a line--AMAZING!! We might even get to sit at a table (rather than at the bar), and still had time to eat before Pecan Lodge closed at 3:00. We parked quickly, ran back up the street, and were ready to get our brisket fix on. Then, we realized that Pecan Lodge was closed for a holiday party. No wonder there was no line. Sad does not begin to describe the depths of despair we experienced at that moment. You know the first time you watched Titanic and Leo slips beneath the water for the last time with the angsty music playing? You know how sad you were inside? Did a tear trickle down your cheek? Well, multiply that by 3 and you'll begin to understand where we were on this. S.A.D.
So, what is a person to do when there is no Pecan Lodge? Well, in years past, we would always go to our tried and true--Lockhart Smokehouse in the Bishop Arts District. Admittedly, we hadn't been for a couple of years, so thought it was time to try it again. We had high hopes, and were excited to visit an old friend.
After a fairly lengthy drive to get there from Deep Ellum, we were really, really hungry. We miraculously found a parking spot, and headed to the back counter to order. Walking through the restaurant, we couldn't help but notice that the "purposely-rustic" feel has now become worn and dingy. Maybe even a little dirty. The place used to look inviting and clean, in a country sort of way. Now it just looks tired and a little sad. A bit like a beloved grandma who used to be a real looker, but had a few too many whisky-sours over the years, and now is a little paunchy, bleary-eyed, and red in the face. We could still tell it was Lockhart's. It's just seen better days.
Getting to the back, I ordered a half-pound of sliced brisket, with some burnt-ends mixed in, and two pork ribs. Natalie ordered brisket and a sausage link. I got a side of mac-n-cheese, and Natalie got coleslaw. They wrapped the food up in their traditional brown paper, and away we went to find a table and order beers.
We found a two-person table, sat down, and unwrapped our food. Unfortunately, a two-person table is not nearly big enough to hold the food and unwrapped brown paper that a two-person order brings. We were in danger of dumping everything on the ground, so found a four-top, which worked much better. I ordered two beers from the very nice bartender, and they came with great pours. Unfortunately, the bartender failed to mention that they sell "tall," as well as normal-sized beers. I didn't find that out until I saw someone else ordering a tall, and would have done the same if I had only known.
Finally, we were ready for the food. I took a piece of the white bread they provided, inserted a few slices of brisket, pickles, some sauce, and some onion, and took a big bite. I was expecting rich, smoky, fatty goodness. Instead, all I got was dry, slightly smoky, pot-roast mouth. Surely the burnt ends would be better--there had to be some succulent fat that was partially-rendered and waiting for me?!?! Nope. Not happening. Similar with the pork ribs. They had better smoke flavor, but were super dry, and frankly the meat was difficult to chew. The sausage was over-cooked and extremely chewy. The sides were both really tasty, and a throwback to yesteryear. But the meat (which is why you go to a BBQ place, right?) was simply sub-par.
Natalie and I looked at each other after the first few bites, and both said how sad it was that Lockhart's had sunk to this level. We felt bad that we recommended the place to out-of-town friends a few months prior. It's not on our top-10 BBQ list any longer, because, in all honesty, you may get a better value and better BBQ going to a chain. I hate to say it--and never want to speak ill of the dead--but if you want good BBQ, go somewhere besides Lockhart Smokehouse. May she rest in peace.