Sunday, April 28, 2013
Hard Eight BBQ (Coppell, TX)
My wife was out of town and I had nothing better to do this evening, so I decided to take a short roadtrip over to Coppell and finally sample Hard Eight BBQ.
There was already a huge line of customers when I arrived at 5:00. The line snaked around like we were waiting to ride a rollercoaster. Hard Eight is only open until 6:00, so I didn't really expect that kind of a crowd. This is clearly a popular spot. The smell of delicious smoke was taunting me the entire time I waited in line. The pit area is adjacent to their huge smokers, with an equally huge menu hanging above them.
If you're unfamiliar with Hard Eight, let me give you a brief rundown of the process. When you walk in, you go straight up to the pit (well, after about a 30 minute wait in line). You order your assorted meats by the pound, or fraction thereof. They weigh everything and slap a barcoded sticker on your tray. Once you're finished there, grab your grub and head inside to pick out your side dishes.
There's a sign above the pit that reads: "Be careful not to over order, your eyes may be bigger than your stomach." No sign is gonna tell me what to do! In fact, just to spite the sign, I ordered a meat-tastic smorgasbord: 4 pork ribs, 3 slices of ham, 1/4 link of regular sausage, 1/4 lb. of sliced brisket, and 4 shrimp poppers. I also added a side of fries just for good measure.
The fries were really good and pleasantly homemade. They were crisp, but certainly not hard. I found just the right amount of seasoning here. Although, their side of fries is probably large enough for 3 people to share.
My sausage was slightly disappointing. The casings could have used a little more snap. It had a fairly pale color, suggesting that it needed more time in the smokers. The flavor of the sausage was good overall, and it did have plenty of pepper. Flavor aside, something was just a bit off about it.
The brisket had a nice amount of smoke, with a decently pronounced smoke ring. I had good bark on most of my order. It was also pretty tender and juicy. The only thing I found lacking was the presentation. I wish the pitmaster had cut it properly so I could have gotten some actual slices rather than a stringy chopped mess.
With the ham, I didn't find quite as much smoke as I was expecting. The crust was nice and crispy though. There was a lot of salt, but the ham lacked any other seasonings. At least it was fairly tender.
Their shrimp poppers are basically shrimp and jalapeno wrapped in bacon. They look bitesize, but leaving the tails on makes that a little difficult. I had to disassemble the whole thing to de-tail these suckers, which kind of defeats the purpose. The bacon was tough, and I think it had been warming on the pit for quite a while. One of my 4 poppers was actually of the chicken variety by mistake. Surprisingly, this was the only one that had any actual spiciness to it.
I left the ribs for last, although not for any particular reason. They had a good crust and a decent red smoky hue on the edge. I didn't find much flavor other than salt and smoke. The meat was nice and juicy, but to the point that it fell right off the bone with nothing more than a gentle tug. Overcooked ribs strike again.
This place wasn't all bad, perhaps about average. I might go back if I lived in Coppell or Grapevine. All things considered, I'm not sure that their barbecue is worth the wait, the price, or the drive from uptown Dallas. Sorry Hard Eight, but you crapped out.
Hard Eight BBQ
688 Freeport Parkway
Coppell, TX 75019