Friday, May 16, 2014

Stellar preview for the new Pecan Lodge in Deep Ellum, Dallas

Owners Diane & Justin Fourton address the crowd at Pecan Lodge's preview party. (Photo by Jim Rossman)

All right. The new Pecan Lodge will open Friday, May 23, ending nearly a couple weeks of Dallas barbecue drought since the original joint last served at the Farmers Market on May 11.

That's the grand opening target for the new place on Main Street in Deep Ellum, according to owner/pitmaster Justin Fourton, who with his wife, Diane, hosted a preview party Thursday attended by about 200 guests.

The new space is wonderful. And the food won't miss a beat, according to many who attended.

"I love it," said Cathy Barber, food editor of The Dallas Morning News, as she sampled brisket, sausage and a bit of beef rib.

"We gotta come out here and drink on Friday nights," said Texas BBQ Posse veteran Jim Rossman, referring to the nice patio area outside the main dining area and bar.

Brian Luscher, owner of The Grape restaurant, and Jay Jerrier, owner of Cane Rosso, agreed that the patio was stellar. Every new restaurant has its own personality, they said. And, the new Pecan Lodge will probably change over time, but they liked their initial introduction.

Robert Wilonsky, The News' super blogger, loved the Lodge's fried chicken, which he had never eaten before, and predicted that the joint would would be standing room only when it officially opened.

Justin Fourton gave the Posse a short tour of the place before the crush of guests arrived Thursday. At the Farmers Market, all the meat was cut out of view of customers. In the new place, some of the meat will be cut in plain view of everyone.

"It won't be like Franklin," Fourton said of the legendary Austin joint, Franklin Barbecue. But customers will get to see at least some of the cutting.

One pit was working Thursday. Fourton eventually hopes to have three in operation.

At the Farmers Market, he said, his capacity was about 40 briskets a day. When the new place opens, he said, he will be able to do 90 a day and that could increase eventually to about 130 a day.

In remarks to the crowd, he recalled the early days of Pecan Lodge when the place sold half of a brisket on Fridays and two briskets on Saturdays.

"This is the tip of iceberg of the revitalization of Deep Ellum," Fourton said.

The preview party also included the debut of a brand new beer, Boss Lady Rustic Red, named for Diane Fourton.

It was good.

"It's super exciting because, you know, we have beer and wine now," the boss lady told those attending.

The Posse couldn't agree more.

Pecan Lodge, 2702 Main St. Dallas, 214-748-8900. Open: Tues-Thur 11am-3pm, Fri-Sat 11am-10pm, Sun 11am-3pm. Website:

All photos by Jim Rossman

Monday, May 12, 2014

Killens' BBQ in Pearland is going to crash everyone's top 10 list.

Killen's BBQ in Pearland. (All photos by Jim Rossman)

I had lunch at Killen’s BBQ in Pearland today and the meats were spectacular.

I have no doubt Killen’s is the best BBQ in Pearland, and likely the best BBQ in the Houston-area. The Posse will double-check my thoughts as we head down to Houston for a BBQ tour at the end of June and Killen’s is a highly-anticipated stop.

I figured Mother’s Day would be a light day at a BBQ joint, but then I remembered this is Texas. Killen’s opens at 11 a.m., and at 10:05 a.m. I was 15th in line. By the time the doors opened, the line was approaching 75 and there were still 50 in line when I left about noon.

Ronnie Killen has been selling BBQ for a while out of a tent in what was called a pop-up restaurant. His restaurant opened in February 2014, and there’s been a line since the beginning.

Once inside the door, there’s room for about 10 people to stand before you get to the serving counter, where Ronnie was on the knife. I was offered a really nice burnt end at the counter (always a nice touch).

Meat offerings include brisket, beef ribs, pork ribs, sausage (regular and jalapeno), turkey, pulled pork and pork belly.

The meats are available by the pound or on plates with two sides. Plates start at $10.95 for one meat and top out at a 6-meat plate for $28.95. I settled for the 4-meat plate (brisket, pork ribs, jalapeno sausage and pork belly.

Sides available include pinto beans, baked beans, potato salad, cole slaw, mac ‘n cheese and creamed corn. I opted for the corn and potato salad. The creamed corn was a hearty side that I’d order again. The potato salad was of the mustard variety and was just average.

The brisket was some of the best I’ve had in any place in Texas. It was just the right combination of salt, pepper and rendered fat to make me close my eyes and just nod my head up and down. I’ve had great brisket from Franklin, La Barbecue, Pecan Lodge and Snow’s.

Ronnie Killen’s brisket is as good as any of those.

I thought the brisket was going to be the standout, but I was wrong – today’s best bite was the beef rib.
It was perfectly cooked and bursting with beefy goodness with just the right amount of crust and smoke.

The pork ribs were St. Louis cut and they were perfectly cooked and rubbed with a spicy/sweet rub that I like to find on a rib.

Pork Belly is not on a lot of menus, but it’s a daily feature at Killens. The pieces I had were meaty and fatty and very good.

The house-made sausage comes in regular and jalapeno. I had a link of the jalapeno and it was very tasty, but almost too lean. There was no grease dripping out of this link at all. It had great flavor, but needed just a little more fat to keep it from falling apart.

Killen’s BBQ, 3613 East Broadway St., Pearland, Texas 77581. Open Tuesday – Sunday, 11 a.m. until the meat runs out.

The line at Killen's stretched down the sidewalk before the 11 a.m. opening.

The welcome mat.

A simple menu above the serving line.

Owner and pitmaster Ronnie Killen

Four meat plate, including brisket, pork ribs, pork belly and jalapeno sausage 

Moist brisket and a beef rib

Early diners enjoy lunch. The line is visible outside.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

See the photos: Good times at the Red Dirt BBQ & Music Festival in Tyler

Lockhart Smokehouse pitmaster Damien Avila slices brisket at the Red Dirt BBQ & Music Festival. (Photo by Phil Lamb)

Several Posse members headed over to Tyler on Saturday for the first annual Red Dirt BBQ & Music Festival. Fifteen of the best barbecue restaurants in the state were represented, along with great Texas music all afternoon and evening. The event was held on Tyler's historic downtown square.

Click here to see a list of the 15 All-Star BBQ joints that served attendees of the festival. Judging from what we saw, it was a huge success.

Though the event was sold out, the crowds were treated to a spacious layout of BBQ restaurants, vendors and a large music stage on the square. We never waited in line more than one or two minutes to get the samples, some of which were almost a meal in themselves. I didn't have a bad bite of meat all day. The beer was ice cold and the weather was beautiful as well.

Given the apparent success of year one, we're hoping the Red Dirt BBQ Festival is here to stay. Along with Texas Monthly's Top 50 BBQ Fest, this can quickly become one of the premier yearly events in Texas barbecue.

Samples await festival goers at Louie Mueller Barbecue's tent. (Photo by Phil Lamb)

Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew pitmaster Lance Kirkpatrick unloads his smoker. (Photo by Chris Wilkins)

Sample tray of brisket, sausage & burnt ends from La Barbecue. (Photo by Phil Lamb)

Louie Mueller Barbecue owner & pitmaster Wayne Mueller preps sample trays. (Photo by Chris Wilkins)

Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew pitmaster Lance Kirkpatrick shows a beef rib hot off the pit. (Photo by Chris Wilkins)

Slow Bone BBQ owner & pitmaster Jack Perkins slices brisket. (Photo by Chris Wilkins)

Sliced brisket from Lockhart Smokehouse. (Photo by Phil Lamb)

Festival goers try samples at La Barbecue's tent, set up on the brick streets of Tyler's square. (Photo by Jim Rossman)