An Englishman Reviews the BBQ of Off the Bone

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Sarah Yu
See also:
*An Englishman in BBQ Sauce for more of our efforts to fatten Gavin up

Last week my dad emailed me. "As a parent the sheer amount of food you are eating in your food journalism quest is truly frightening. The way that your wife feeds you is slightly reminiscent of foie gras production, but it's not your liver that's growing." He might have a point. I'm starting to feel the same way. I am yet to be anything close to disappointed by Texan portion sizes. I think overwhelmed is a better word. Off the Bone was the largest portions I feel like I can remember. By this point, I mainly miss Britain because I was much thinner in Britain.

I feel like this fine establishment was my first proper BBQ trek. It's not even that far from Dallas, it's in Forest Hill, about 35 minutes away, but we went in rush hour (it closes at 7) so it felt much longer. It's more the principle of driving that far for a specific food. It's alien to me. In Texas, where everything is so far spaced out from everything else, a 30-minute drive is nothing. That's a good commute. In Britain, if it's longer than a 15-minute drive and someone isn't dying, then it's too far. That said, I do like the feeling of isolation you get when you drive out of the built-up metroplex. It all feels so empty. It's much more what I thought Texas would be like before moving here, when I had very little idea about what living in a city like Dallas would have in store.

This BBQ joint is legit in a way that Lockhart's or Sonny Bryan's isn't -- you could easily mistake it for a gas station, building wise, and there are no stylized frills whatsoever. It's not trying to be anything. I find these places more intimidating, because they're not built for city folk like me, they are for locals. I get a lot of funny looks. The worst I've ever had it was in a country-style diner just outside Waco when I was driving to Austin. Some guy had his shotgun leaned up against a table, everyone was wearing non-ironic cowboy hats and I couldn't understand a word anyone said.

This place comes second. The people at the counter stare at me with total incredulity as I'm trying to make an order. I mispronounce okra, and Richard cracks a joke ("You know, like Okra Winfrey!) and the stares we get are really bad news. "No", says the lady at the counter, firmly. Apparently, you don't make Okra Winfrey jokes here.

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Sarah Yu
Nevertheless, this in some way adds to the experience. Whereas I was out of my element before simply because I was faced by Texas BBQ, now I am several levels deep into a situation. I've crossed over from novelty into escaped non-indigenous zoo animal, and a zoo animal that is hungry for BBQ. We struggle our way to ordering a rib basket ($7.99) and a two-meat plate of brisket and sausage, with sides of macaroni cheese and okra (no Winfrey) ($12.99).

I get a raspberry iced tea and can hear my forefathers weeping at this desecration of tea. We go to the fast-food style booths, and it comes out in the adorable little red baskets, fried chicken style. There is a ketchup-squeezy-bottle-dispenser-thing of BBQ sauce, which worries me. I needn't have worried. The sauce is an absolute beauty, kind of spicy and sweet, with a definite tang of vinegar. It was so good. Even okra tasted good in it, and I really have no idea what okra is or what it should taste like.

Anyway, that's quite aside from the meat. The brisket, well, Lockhart has ruined me. It was OK, pretty good, nothing special. The smoky outside is very nicely done, but there's not enough of it. The sausage, again, pretty good. The ribs, though. Christ. They are pleading to fall off the bone; they are burnt crisp on the outside and melt in the mouth on the inside. By the time we are done with them, the once-full squeezy bottle of sauce is one-third full and there are entirely clean ribs scattered around the table. It requires all my restraint not to simply put sauce on the bones and use them as some sort of horrific Popsicle. Richard, stepson and I, and our two BBQ companions, agree that the ribs are untouchable. Everything else is pretty good. Not bad at all. I could eat the ribs from this place forever.

Dessert is suggested. I am intrigued. I have never got dessert at a BBQ place before. Brian, a recent arrival from Indiana who is out with us for the first time, goes up and gets a buttermilk pie. I try a bit, and it's truly great, like eating a milky sugar pie. I clearly haven't had enough awkward interactions for the day, so I go up to get my own. Imagine a British person saying "butter". I pronounce both the t's with a hard accent. When an American says "butter," it's kind of mushed together into a "duh" noise. Budder. The lady at the counter is terrified. She has absolutely no idea what I'm saying to her. The problem is, the less I'm understood, the more I retreat into pronouncing things clearly, but clearly for a British audience. I emphasize the "t" more. It is a losing battle. Eventually I gesture, and she's still bemused.

I got the pie in the end. I am not sure how. I think I got it for free because she wanted me to go away and be British somewhere else. It tastes even more delicious because of the suffering that went into acquiring it. If we've learned anything from this blog entry, it is that. Pie is better when you work hard for it.


Location Info

Off The Bone Barbeque

1734 S. Lamar St., Dallas, TX

Category: Restaurant

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30 comments
Nichole Bufton French
Nichole Bufton French

Off The Bone was the first BBQ I'd had after being away from Texas for four years (two of them in England!) and it was SO good!

J_A_
J_A_

Those ribs look fantastic! Gavin, I would think generally people in BBQ joints would be amused/happy/excited by an Englishman gracing their presence?

todd
todd

Is this the famous friendliness I hear about when people compare Texans to citizens of other states or regions?  

 

"The people at the counter stare at me with total incredulity as I'm trying to make an order...Richard cracks a joke ("You know, like Okra Winfrey!) and the stares we get are really bad news. "No", says the lady at the counter, firmly."  

Mervis
Mervis

"That said, I do like the feeling of isolation you get when you drive out of the built-up metroplex."

 

Another good read Gavin but I don't think you were out of the metroplex.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

Devouring gigantic slabs of animal flesh like a troglodyte is something I find to be repugnant.  Small amounts of meat used to flavor a dish dominated by fresh vegetables is a far more civilized, and healthy, way to eat.

txcelt
txcelt

Great review and only one suggestion...  "(you)...really have no idea what okra is or what it should taste like".  This is a fortunate thing.  You should really endeavour to keep things just that way.

Joshstruckoutagain
Joshstruckoutagain

I love this series, methinks Gavin needs to pack up and head to Lockhart, Tx and review the big 3 or 4 down there.  (Smitty's fatty brisket will blow your mind!)

come
come

The map and link is pointing to the Off The Bone in Dallas, not Forrest Hill.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

You people are quite hostile.  If you read my entire comment I meant that it was unnecessary and barbarous, at that, to stuff huge amounts of meat into your corpus, and that small amounts can still be enjoyed.  I love a rib or two, not the whole rack.

txcelt
txcelt

 @Myrna.Minkoff-Katz Myrna.Minkoff-Katz Then, may i inquire why you're following this particular blog?  Seriously.. there are veggie-centric blogs all over the place!  Good bits of food-ish reading for us un-evolved, carnivorous troglodytes are few and far between.

cynicaloldbastard
cynicaloldbastard

 @Myrna.Minkoff-Katz If you find bbq repugnant don't go to eat any and don't criticize people who happen to enjoy it.  FYI - bbq is not raw meat that is ripped off the bone of animals still trying to escape.

GavinCleaver
GavinCleaver

 @Joshsbrokendisqus I really, really, really want to go on BBQ tour of Lockhart. God willing the Observer can make this happen (hint)

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

 @Joshsbrokendisqus Yeah, at least Gavin goes to the places he is writing about, unlike that Kristy Yang story about an airport lounge she hadnt been at in 5 years

DonO
DonO

 @come Off the Bone in Dallas actually has pretty good ribs if you get them without sauce.  Plus they're open late late Friday and Saturday, perfect for a late night slab on the way home from clubbing.

nick.rallo
nick.rallo moderator

 @come Thanks--there was an error matching that one. We're adding the new location. In the meantime, it's at: 5144 Mansfield Highway  Forest Hill, TX 76119

eleventeen
eleventeen

 @GavinCleaver gavin, PLEASE try North Main BBQ in Euless, off of 183. it's $15 bucks, tax included. for that you get killer ribs, good brisket, sausage, chopped beef, sides, iced tea/soda and ice cream. never made it past the ribs and brisket. open ONLY fri/sat/sun. jesus god, please go soon. welcome to texas!

eleventeen
eleventeen

 @Myrna.Minkoff-Katz but it's impossible for me to replace the joy and satisfaction that i receive from the giant and solid dump that i take after clearing three plates of ribs, no sides, and sweet tea at North Main BBQ.  get super high on kush, and try it. you can't not smile!

todd
todd

 @Myrna.Minkoff-Katz I read your entire comment, the one where you told everyone what is "far more civilized and healthy."  Knowing you felt that way, did you read this post just so you could grace us with your negativity?

Mantikos
Mantikos

@cynicaloldbastard @Myrna.Minkoff-Katz Well if it is Halal or Kosher, it technically kinda is

cynicaloldbastard
cynicaloldbastard

 @GavinCleaver  @Joshsbrokendisqus You will need to stop at Franklin & J. Mueller, both in Austin, along the way.  Franklin has totally changed the world of Texas BBQ and puts the places in Lockhart into second place.  And, if you are in Lockhart, you have to go 15 miles down the road to Luling City Market.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

 @todd Myrna is all wisdom and grace, as you must have noted upon perusing her erudite comments.

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