Saturday, July 2, 2011

Hard Eight BBQ, Coppell, Texas

visited 7/2/11 about 7 pm

This is a small but expanding chain that I have heard mostly negative reviews about.  Hence, the lack of a previous visit.  On this night they had booked a good blues performer and that added just enough oomph to spur a trip to nearby Coppell through the tortuous DFW Connector construction project.  Many folks had complained to me that this place was very overpriced but I found their meats to be very competitively priced at $11.99/pound.  I think the trick is to watch the portion size.  Two slices of brisket was easily 3/4 of a pound tonight.

This is a big joint and it was hopping.  We had to park around on the back side and walk around to the pits in the front.  It is laid out like a central Texas BBQ place with the pits and warming pits up front.  You choose your meats and hot sides from the warming pit, pay by the pound, then move inside for cold sides and drinks.  They even have a separate bean pot in the back with complimentary pinto beans.   We loaded up with brisket, pork ribs, jalapeno sausage, and "brush poppers", plus a side of tater salad and some beans. 
Our bill was $31 for the tray you see below, plus extra for beer. The meat is served hill country style on butcher paper on a small tray.  The place was very busy but my Mrs found a spot down front by the band while I wrangled some beverages.  The brisket was crumbling apart and would not hold together at all.  It was also very salty and there was zero smoke flavor.  A few stringy bits were overcooked to the consistency of beef jerky and almost unchewable, probably outside bits.  All signs of overcooking.  The brisket basically had the taste and consistency of crock pot roast beef.  It would have been great with some brown gravy.  I had hopes the sauce would help, or at least cut the salt, but found it thin, and a heavy taste of vinegar and mustard, almost like East Coast sauce. 

The ribs were a bit better.  Still salty and little flavor from the bark except salt, however they were well cooked, left a nice bite mark and were plenty tender and juicy.  The jalapeno sausage had a nice bite and good spicey flavor.  Not bad at all.  The highlight of the meat was the "brush poppers".  These were chicken strips wrapped around jalapeno and onion with bacon around the outside.  Those were excellent.  The chicken was still tender and juicy and the flavors just popped in your mouth.  If there had been some good smoke flavor they would have been a stone home run.  My Mrs is already planning on working her magic on this concept. 

The sides were better than your average fare.  The tater salad was skin on with bits of onion and a mustard base.  The pinto beans were perfect consistency, not mushy, not chewy, and had plenty of spicy flavor with bits of ham and peppers.  The beans ranked right up there with the best of central Texas joints.

I would be happy to go back if they book some more good blues, but I'll be sticking with the brush poppers instead of the BBQ. 

1 comment:

  1. I eat at Hard Eight frequently; living on the Northeast side of the Metroplex, it's a favorite stop before or after a DFW flight. Like many BBQ spots, what they struggle with more than anything is consistency. The brisket in particular: yes, more often than not, it's just way too dry, but when you get a good piece, it's heavenly. Requests specifically for the "moist" or "fatty" end seem to get ignored. I've noticed the last couple of visits that they usually seem to start slicing the brisket from the lean end, so my new strategy is to look at the brisket they're currently slicing. If it's small, then they are down to the good end, yum. If it's still big, then stick with the ribs & sausage. I am surprised yours was not smokey, though: I've found the smoke flavor on Hard Eight's meat more pronounced than any other place I've tried in DFW. (The web site says they use mesquite wood).

    Pricing, $11.99/pound is in line with other area spots. I always order by the pound instead of by the slice, that helps keep from over-ordering (though like the supermarket deli or meat counter, they tend to err on the high side). When budgeting, know that ribs there average a quarter pound each.

    I think the sauces there are dreadful. There are actually two kinds. The one you had was served at the front of the serving line, right? The bottles of sauce on the tables are different, it's a thicker sauce that's unbearably sweet. Mixing the two seems to make them almost palatable, but I usually eat my meat there dry.

    I was there a week before you (for the same blues act) and saw similar crowds. But on every other visit, at lunchtimes or weekday evenings, the parking has been easy and the dining room almost deserted...