Barrel & Bones Craft Bar and Smokehouse, 2600 W 7th St, Ste 153, FW. 817-720-3443. 11am-11pm Sun-Thu, 11am-midnight Fri-Sat. All major credit cards accepted.
If you’re looking for indisputable truth in restaurant advertising, then look no further than the series of nouns etched into the front window panels of Barrel & Bones Craft Bar and Smokehouse.
Looming over the outdoor working smoker are words that cover almost all of Barrel & Bones’ bases: “Whiskey, cocktails.” Absolutely. “Carolina, Kansas City, Memphis” as barbecue influences –– check. “Brisket, ribs.” Yup.
The five-month-old Barrel & Bones shares a prized, if often challenging, 6,600-square-foot Montgomery Plaza corner location with its sister property, Bourbon Street Oyster Bar & Grill –– both part of the Dallas-based Kelcher Entertainment Group.
The “Barrel” of Barrel & Bones is immediately reflected in the profusion of barrels and barrel tops that adorn the walls and that are used to support a number of the restaurant’s dark, laminated cherry wood high-top tables.
The other barrel reference is how seriously Barrel & Bones takes its craft whiskey program, with a separate menu listing more than 100 different brands, whose origins range from Texas, Tennessee, and Utah to New York, Kansas, and Iowa; from Scotland and Ireland to Canada and Japan.
Prompted by its regionally inspired whiskey program, Barrel & Bones’ barbecue wisely steers clear of a purely Lone Star flavor profile. Why wade into waters firmly controlled by so many longtime local establishments? Instead, Barrel & Bones serves up a geographic variety of ’cue, including Texas brisket, Carolina pulled pork, St. Louis ribs, and Alabama chicken –– all with, perhaps most tastily, regionally influenced sauces.
The Southwestern fave, the poblano pepper, figured prominently in the poblano corn fritters, one of my starters. Here, the pepper’s hybrid taste, melding a green bell with a mildly hot banana pepper, introduced much-appreciated zing to a well-executed fritter –– crunchy on its cornmeal-coated outside, creamed corn-silky in the middle. Adding further zip was a sauce mixing honey and chipotle peppers, which produced a vividly tasty aioli.
I’ll admit it: I’ve always had a passion for the cliched deviled egg. Barrel & Bones’ Buffalo-fried deviled eggs took a hard-boiled egg, halved it, and coated the bottom piece in a cayenne-flecked panko breadcrumb mix before flash-frying it. The seduction continued as it was slathered with a mix of mayonnaise, mustard, and classic buttermilk ranch dressing spices –– hence the apt Buffalo wings reference.
Easily the most cost-friendly barbecue tour of Barrel & Bones is its combo of three meats and one side. Wanting to test the kitchen’s use of its post-oak-fired smoker on different proteins, I opted for the brisket, the jalapeño sausage, and the chicken. Each of these meats, all expertly prepared, were elevated to Himalayan heights by their regionally influenced sauces. Memphis-inspired tomato-based one, bolstered by mustard, onion, and chiles; a second sweet and spicy number, with apple juice sugars and a jalapeño punch; and a third “B & B” sauce that evoked Louisiana through Creole mustard and a glug of maple syrup.
The chopped brisket was redolent of a dry-rub (chile powder, smoked paprika, and garlic powder) and nine hours of smoking. The jalapeño sausage packed a special surprise in a middle bursting with cheddar cheese. However, I was disappointed, as the jalapeño’s tingling heat failed to shine through.
The humble chicken was the star of my combo plate. Its outer skin caramelization –– the product of a 48-hour brine, then a rub with brown sugar and cayenne pepper, and a slow smoking before a last flash-fry –– was a thing of crackling beauty. Its skin practically shattered as I greedily tugged at it, revealing sublimely moist meat.
Completing my protein-a-palooza were Barrel & Bones’ St. Louis pork ribs. Thanks to slow-smoking over that same reliable post-oak for six hours, these ribs defined “fall-off-the-bone.” I haven’t tasted a more tender rib in all of my Fort Worth ’cue wanderings.
The peach cobbler seemed a work in progress, as it placed more emphasis on the great snow-globe of tasty vanilla ice cream than the peach and crust cobbler hiding below it, like some shy tween at her first dance. By combining a sophisticated craft whiskey and cocktail program with a regional approach to smoking meat, as it lives up to every last offering proudly displayed on its front window.
Barrel & Bones Craft Bar and Smokehouse
Buffalo deviled eggs $8
Poblano corn fritters $8
Three meats and one side (brisket, jalapeño sausage, chicken w/mac ’n’ cheese) $17
St. Louis pork ribs $7
Texas Bourbon beans (side) $5 (small)
Peach cobbler $7