Hard Eight BBQ (coppell, tx)
I just had a sliced beef sandwich (to go) from the newly opened Hard Eight BBQ in Coppell, so it would be unfair for me to assess their beef on this first visit. The sandwich was slightly discouraging with a mixed array of fat and overly excessive end bits that were dried out. The vinegary cole slaw was boring. Any other opinions about this particular location?
corner of freeport parkway and bethel rd.
I was able to twist hubby's arm to go try the new Hard Eight BBQ (didn't have to twist very hard) this Saturday evening. Had a feeling the line would be large, so we went a wee early--about 5:45 ish.
We ordered a combination of a number of items: Pork ribs, brisket, plain sausage, prime rib (weekends only), and some of the "brush poppers". We also picked up roasted corn on the cob, a coleslaw and some of the beans, which are "on the house". We tried to order some cabrito, but it was still cooking, thus the prime rib was a substitute.
I love the building. It is beautiful and obviously was expensive to build. So, ambience, A++.
The bbq sauce is a bit strange--sweet and vinegary at the same time. I prefer a bit of a kick and this sauce didn't cut it.
The pork ribs were the best we've found in Texas so far. (Honestly, the best pork ribs in the country are in Algonquin, Illinois at a little hole in the wall aptly named "The Texan". Try them if you get out there!)
The brisket was not fatty at all. In fact, I would have liked some fat, it was rather on the dry side--but not unchewably dry, just dry like really dense meat. I know why adkim's sandwich was a "mixed array"--the meat carver scoops all the odd shaped pieces, bits and little fatty parts into a bucket, and then when someone orders "chopped" brisket, that is what they get--I suspect that is where the sandwich meat comes from. It is a genuine attempt to limit waste, but I see how it could lead to adkim's experience.
The brush poppers were great! Finally a bite that is not deep fried, doesn't have fatty cheese, and is different and interesting.
The prime rib was cold. Unexceptional.
The sausage--well, let's just say there is wayyyy better sausage out there, somewhere other than at Hard Eight. Maybe the jalapeno sausage is better.
The coleslaw was actually very good--extremely crisp fresh cabbage, and a vinegar dressing that was not overwhelming.
We really liked the corn--it was roasted plain, so I was able to enjoy corn without the nasty oily spreads they normally dunk it in. Also nice was that they have baked potatoes (okay, they are in foil, so they're really steamed potatoes!), but no french fries (good, as I don't need them!)
The beans are not bbq beans--they are chuckwagon/trail beans--lots of big bits of bacon, but no brown sugar, molasses, goopy stuff. hate to think what might get thrown in that communal vat at some point though--
We topped it off with a piece of unexceptional buttermilk pie.
Overall, way better than Dickies, brisket was way meatier than what I got served at Salt Lick in Austin last time we went (can you say fatty? there wasn't ANY meat!) and we enjoyed it. Hubby says he'll go back, and since we live in Coppell, I'm sure we will be back.
Let me qualify my comments before I review Hard 8. I have been universally disappointed with Dallas BBQ to the point where I learned how to smoke and make my own sauce from scratch to replace the BBQ I think is the best in the world, Kansas City's Arthur Bryants. In the last three years I have cooked for hundreds of people (many native Texans) that comment that my BBQ and baked beans are the best they've ever had. I try to solicit honest criticism and admit that many of my early efforts were very poor. That said....
I went to the Hard Eight to try it out Tuesday the 10th of July at lunchtime. Looking at the meats in the smoker/display I was a little bit shocked at how much fat was left on the brisket. I consider beef brisket and pork ribs the benchmarks for BBQ. I ended up passing on the brisket because there was just no way such cheap and poorly prepared meat could be appetizing. (It looked like the doggy bag scraps that are given away at most KC BBQs.)
I picked some (4-5) ribs (short ends) a couple of their chicken poppers and poorly chose a slice of smoked sirloin. Along with potato salad and a soda the total was $16.50!
So the review:
Potato Salad: seemed homemade but lacked flavor or even an attempt at flavor. Almost seemed like the mustard used was somehow watered down. They need to something with this to make it unique and worth the $1.75 they charge.
Ribs: Over rubbed, cheap meat, fatty and gristly. They were smoked and cooked properly and once you picked the fat off the taste was OK. Nothing more, nothing less. I did notice the table next to me complaining among each other about the fat and compared that the ribs were not as good as... (I didn't hear the name.)
Sirloin: What a waste of money! Rubbery undersmoked, undercooked (but at least lean!) I had to cut it into little bits to make it edible and even then some type of gristle managed it's way into having to be spit out ala Emily Post.
As a matter of fact I can't recall a meal outside of the thrid world where I had to expel as much gristle, fat and undercooked meat in my life.
Lastly the sauce.... and this is where KC does it best! I wouldn't say it was good but at the same time it wasn't bad, it was just neutral and it's only benefit was it helped moisten the rubbery dried out sirloin, cover up (read: dilute) the over rubbed rib pieces that were edible.
The sauce is very much like a diluted and weak "Fatt Matts" (a BBQ in Atlanta). Seems like tomato paste, a little mustard, vinegar and sugar and no spice added enough to be disernable or flavorful. Babies could drink this sauce out of a bottle with a nipple but CPS might write you up for child abuse and having such bad taste.
Lastly, the price/value was outrageous. Very cheap meats and preparation (meaning fat should have been trimmed off)
And NO the fat does not flavor the meat as many people believe! The cell structure is too tight. Fat just makes the meat oily, fatty and greasy and gives you that nauseous feeling when you're done eating it.
Good smoked beef should be like strips of sweet candy like meat without any sauce at all. A well developed smoke ring and tears easily with your teeth.
So IMHO H8 fails at all levels. Next time I want BBQ, I'll soak some wood chunks, get some good pieces of meat, smoke it myself and hope that I am still in the mood for it when it's ready 3 days later.
And just so you don't think I'm not open minded about BBQ, I think Rudy's in San Antonio is pretty good, Marshalls in Farmers Branch is very good, Coopers is pretty good, (not as good as some think though), Fatt Matts (Atlanta) is very good, Bennetts in Denver is pretty good, Arthur Bryants, Gates, Rosedale, LC's and many other neighborhood BBQs in KC are great. KC Masterpiece is horrible, Bill Miller is perhaps the worst I've ever had and Hard Eight is right there at the bottom next to Bill Miller.
My experience with bad BBQ in the DFW area is usually commercial franchises. They give BBQ a bad name. We call them "tourist BBQ". Family owned places are usually the best places. But there are so many taste differences with BBQ too. Sauce vs. dry rub; thick sauce vs. thin sauce. ( I used to hate the thiner sauce until I tasted Odom's Barbeque sauce in Duncanville). Commercial BBQ sauces are a joke to me.
The original Red Bryan's in Arlington was a great place (no longer there). His grandson owns David's BBQ in Arlington which does a good job. The original Sonny Bryan's (not the West End...I believe that was franchised years ago) in Dallas is very good if you like the old fashioned place with school chairs to sit in and picnic tables outside. If I had to pick the best franchise rib, it would have to be Spring Creek with it's dry rub. I won't vouch for anything else there except the fresh baked low-calorie rolls?
Some good news, there's a Rudy's opened up in Frisco and they are doing a pretty good job. Went Friday night, brisket was great. Ribs were undercooked and they shorted me an order of ribs using the drive thru. As usual I put Gates Extra hot sauce on everything. Had some good BBQ a few weeks ago in Italy Texas and some friends and I got some decent brisket from some BBQ a little north of Denton on the way to the Sooner game this weekend. Don't remember the name though.
All I can say is excellent review, Jef. You pretty much said everything that i was going to say.
I went to Hard Eight on Saturday, July 14th at around 11:00 am. As soon as I walked in the door I had a bad feeling. It proved to be correct as I left hungry and $17.04 lighter in the wallet.
People need to be warned about this place. This is not your typical cafeteria line bbq joint. When you walk in, you see the selection of meats spread out in an open smoker. Some things like the pork chops and the grilled chicken have a set price for 1. Everything else is sold by the pound. And maybe it was right in front of me and I didnt see it, but I didnt notice any price lists. I was worried that I was about to get hosed, so I went with less food than I actually wanted. Basically they take your order by the inch. So I got 4-5 inches of the two flavors of sausage and 5 brush poppers. My hand signal for how much ribs I wanted resulted in me receiving exactly 3 ribs. So that baby portion of meat, a side of potato salad, and a diet pepsi ran me just over 17 bucks.
As far as the food itself goes, once again jef is right on the money. I must say the pork ribs were a joke. They had little meat on them and were at least 50% gristle. The sauce was barely more than a ketchup/liquid smoke combo. And I, too, worry about what might have fallen into that huge, open vat of beans.
Needless to say, I do not recommend this place. Nobody should drop 17 on a meal and leave hungry. If you go, expect to pay much more than you expected.
Great building, great porch, great free beans. I say great beans because there isn't a charge on them. (There in a big pot by the fountain drinks.) That is where the great stops.
I've never seen any place so proud of their meat for the quality served. $17 for two ribs, asked for a quarter, probably got a third pound of briskett, serving of sausage, two sides and a drink.
The sausage was cold. The brisket had not smoke ring, and basically tasted like roast. Also, the brisket is cut with the grain; I'm not a big fan of that. The ribs were fatty, which I don't have a problem with, but there wasn't enough meat to go with them. The rub on the ribs appeared to be just salt and pepper which was fine, but the overall smoke flavor was lacking once again.
Maybe the chicken would be better. But for the price and quality, I won't be going back on my nickel.
I'll give a plug for Bartley's in Grapevine. They have all you can eat for about $12 and they take the Star Telegram Press Pass which gives 20% off. If you want a smoke ring on your meat go here or just about anywhere.
One of the better barbeque places in Arlington is David's Barbeque on Park Row. I believe he is 3rd generation from the Red Bryan's/ Sonny Bryan's Barbeque dynasty. Also, in Duncanville off Camp Wisdom and Oriole, try Odom's Barbeque, dry chopped BBQ sandwich with sauce on the side. The sauce is so good that you will be tempted to sip it; it's one of the best sauces that I've ever had.