|Large pallets of wood wait their turn in the smoker (Photos by Jim Rossman)
After an extensive remodel of a K&G Men's Wear on north Central Expressway in Richardson, Ten 50 BBQ, owned by Chili's founder Larry Lavine, finally opened this week to long lines and daily sellouts around 2:30p.m. each day.
I watched a few accounts of Monday's opening day, including a good writeup by Kellie Reynolds in the Dallas Observer. It was a quote in her story that caught my attention.
"Franklin's in Austin is the gold standard and we think we've matched that," Levine told Reynolds. "We've got a phenomenal product."
After reading the quote, I had to find out for myself, so I set out for Richardson after the lunch rush on their second day of operation. I also visited Thursday with Posse members Gary Jacobson and Phil Lamb and some of my other meat-loving friends.
I'm glad I waited to sample the meats twice before posting. Tuesday's visit was good, but Thursday's lunch was better.
Comparing yourself to the number one BBQ joint in the world is a lofty goal, and while the meat at Ten 50 shows promise, they're a ways from matching the quality of any of Aaron Franklin's offerings.
Lavine certainly built a nice place. Ten 50 has seating for 275 (don't worry about having to reserve a table for 10 or 12...they have plenty of very long tables). The layout will look familiar if you've ever been to a Hard 8 BBQ -- smokers outside, meat kept on outside warmers, cut to order and then taken indoors for sides and drinks.
Ten 50 uses oak to cook their briskets and there are pallets of wood all over the place (great sign). Two large red Oyler smokers are wood-fired and it looks like there's more than enough capacity to serve all day, even though it's lunch only for now. I hear dinner service is coming soon.
Ribs are cooked on hickory. I got these cooking facts from the Observer's story.
They offer grilled steaks, cooked over oak charcoal, which is burned from oak logs on-site. Ten 50 is built to handle large crowds and I found there to be ample staff who were very helpful.
|The meats were promising, but all had room for improvement.
How was the meat?
The brisket was cooked perfectly and had a nice smoke ring, but I didn't detect much in the way of a rub on my first visit. The fat was well-rendered and tasted great with the meat, but I did wish it was a little saltier.
The second try was much better. I got more than one slice of beef and there was ample crust that was well-seasoned. The consensus at the table: brisket was the star today. Moist, good crust and very well-rendered fat made for great brisket. It's not Franklin good, but it's solidly in the top tier of DFW brisket.
Ribs on both visits were small. Almost "babyback small." They did have a sweetness to their crust and tasted pretty good. I just wish they were bigger, although this is a nitpick, as you pay by the pound here. We all wished there was some more flavor here. After the initial twinge of sweetness, the taste just faded away.
Sausage comes in two varieties, a traditional sausage from Elgin, TX and a jalapeno-cheddar from Tyler, TX. Both were cooked well. The Elgin sausage was the better of the two. The jalapeno cheddar might have too much of a cheese flavor going on. Neither was especially greasy.
Turkey looked great in the warmer, but the piece cut for me came off the bottom (no skin) and it was a bit dry and lacked flavor. I also tried the Jalapeno Torpedoes which is chicken and cheese, stuffed in a jalapeno wrapped in bacon and grilled. They were pretty good, but needed a hit of sauce to make them sing. They were plenty spicy though.
Speaking of sauce, I tried their traditional sauce and it was good. Very strong molasses taste, but a good balance. I didn't get to try the vinegar-based Carolina sauce.
|Two oak-fired Oyler smokers handle the briskets.
One thing struck me when I was looking for a table -- on the fist visit it was really cold inside the restaurant.
I'll certainly say Ten 50 has a fantastic air conditioner, but looking out across the room, most of the rolls of paper towels were blowing like flags in a stiff breeze (no joke).
Besides the ample A/C, there are very large ceiling fans helping move the air. This is great when it's hot, but when you're holding an open tray of sliced meat, it tends to cool it off and dry out in a hurry. I switched tables three times before I found a spot not in a noticeable breeze and my meat was still cold before I finished lunch. I never thought I say this, but I wish it was a bit warmer and less windy at Ten 50.
The second visit was much better. The ceiling fan was spinning much slower. No stiff breezes.
Overall I'm glad we've got a new joint open north of LBJ. I can tell the people at Ten 50 are serious about what they do and I can see the potential. All the pieces are in place, now they just need to dial it in a bit.
This is a great place to bring guests. Nice and large, soon to be open for dinner, full bar with plenty of local beers on tap and above average to excellent meats.
Ten50 Barbecue, 1050 N Central Expy, Richardson, 972-234-1050. Open 7 days a week 10:50am-9pm.
|Oak logs were burning to make charcoal.