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Opinion: The Woodshed serves creative, delicious dishes

The Woodshed, a smokehouse by chef Tim Love, is located on Riverfront Drive near the Trinity River and features several barbecue classics. Photo by Dru Mcilhenny.

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Simply put, Tim Love can cook.

In preparation for a much-anticipated sojourn to Tim Love’s new Woodshed Smokehouse, I went to his website and watched his Iron Chef video. In the battle, he destroyed Iron Chef Morimoto while taking shots of tequila. Any of you who have been flipping channels late at night and settled on this show understand the weight of this victory.

Those who are familiar with Love’s other restaurants, The Love Shack and the Lonesome Dove Bistro, probably will have justifiably high expectations. But those expectations will be surpassed somewhere between the third rib and second fourth-pint carafe of cabernet.

Situated on the Trinity River, the location has one of the most tranquil, wonderful views Fort Worth has to offer. Inexplicably, no restaurant has previously been built on the river, and Love had to jump through years of hoops to make this happen. Thankfully, the end result is perfect and will hopefully open the door for like-minded restaurants.

The Trinity is a highly underrated Fort Worth landmark, and I only fully realized this while looking over it on the Woodshed’s stunning patio.

Located right behind Hoffbrau off of University, the location is prime for TCU students, who could even walk or ride their bikes there if so inclined. Just make sure you have a reservation, because it gets packed fast.

The food stands up to the spectacular location. Upon walking in, Chef Love was overlooking a lamb spinning over a spit, slow roasting to perfection. The menu is his take on barbecue, and in addition to wonderful traditional offerings, Love demonstrates his command of smoked cuisine by showcasing smoked dishes from around the world.

He has a rum and coke Banh mi, his riff on the trendy Vietnamese sandwich, a terrific smoked fish dish, and many small, “simple” plates that are genius in their simplicity, and really not very small. There are a few options meant for sharing, including a Spanish Paella, a traditional rice dish showcasing some of Love’s signature meats, along with his rattlesnake sausage and a giant beef shin. The table beside me ordered this; it was meant to feed four, but in reality could easily feed eight. It looked like something out of the Flintstones, a giant bone sticking out of the center of a luscious, slow-cooked hunk of bovine. The party ravenously tore into the meat, spreading it on tortillas with blissed-out expressions.

The best deal on the menu is the meat of the day. For only $9, you can get a huge amount of smoked meat, be it lamb, cow, pork or goat, accompanied by unctuous cheese and delicious homemade tortillas. I was in meat heaven, but it must be noted that the menu has a large number of vegetarian dishes as well, although I was enjoying being a carnivore far too much to order any. 

Love has obviously poured his heart and soul into the Woodshed, and it absolutely shows. The Woodshed is open every day for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and both times I went the crowd was large and filled with smiles. This is a fantastic addition to the TCU area and certainly the most creative, if not best, restaurant in a few square miles of campus. Do yourself a favor and go.

Chris Phanekham is a junior writing and pre-law major from Keller.

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