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Tim Love's Woodshed Smokehouse: a sneak peek

Posted 4:14pm on Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2011

When Tim Love unveils his newest concept next month, it's bound to redefine what folks think of in terms of barbecue. At a recent tasting of a dozen of so menu items - much of the evening captured by an Animal Planet film crew for a Love show tentatively called "Meat Love" - a handful of willing eaters made surprising discoveries about foods cooked over fire.

He's calling his new place Woodshed Smokehouse, but it's not your grandpa's barbecue joint. You see, most of us who grew up 'round these parts tend to classify BBQ as 1. smoked beef brisket; 2. pork ribs; and 3. sausage. Those of us who grew up in the South, say down in Alabama, pretty much keep their barbecue to big ol' slabs of ribs. And our friends from the Carolinas consider barbecue nothing other than pulled pork with a pile of cole slaw on top. Up in Kansas City, you find lots of barbecued pork and those incredible burnt ends of briskets, but you'll also find the occasional goody, like barbecued lamb ribs.

But Love's not doing that stuff, really. Just as his Lonesome Dove Western Bistro helped us find out what elk and kangaroo and other interesting edibles are like, he's about to show us a whole new world in cooking over hardwoods. When Woodshed opens in September along the Trinity River (kind of behind Hoffbrau, right on the riverbank, shouting distance to the Colonial Country Club's front nine), we'll need to make a number of visits to try everything coming from his pits and to acclimate our palates to a global offering of seasonings and ingredients.

Using hickory, pecan, oak and mesquite and employing handmade spits of his own design, Love will serve beef, pork and poultry, but some of it's in forms you wouldn't have imagined. And some items you just have to try to believe.

Among goodies I especially liked was smoked pork in a bourbon-and-coke marinade, called bahn mi and given a Vietnamese flair with pickled veggies; and pecan-smoked rack of wild boar, served with a smoky garlic aioli. The most stunning meat of all was the beef shin, which resembled leg of brontosaurus, glistening with smoked olive oil and served on a massive platter with chunky-crumbled chile-infused ricotta.

But be assured that Woodshed is not, appearances to the contrary, all about meat. As one who loves vegetables over protein almost any day of the week, I was thrilled to find plenty of produce at work on the menu: cobs of fresh corn, smoked over hickory and given Mexican seasonings and lime, were sweet perfection, and garden-fresh acorn squash, swept with a little Tuaca (Love's favorite liqueur) and served with a smoked red-pepper hollandaise, was nothing short of heavenly; and roasted fresh beets served with earthy goat cheese creme fraiche got a tweak of spice from pickled poblanos.

Woodshed's open-air presence right on the river invites cyclists and joggers to pop in while on the trail, and Love plans to offer bike rentals, along with monthly live music concerts. Ping-pong tables will have us hanging around, as will a wide variety of craft beers and wine on tap. Oh, and all service items will be biodegradable, disposable goods, so as not to trash the great outdoors.

We'll be looking at afternoons in the park, as well as barbecue, in a different light.

Find Woodshed Smokehouse at 3201 Riverfront Drive, Fort Worth, 76107.

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