[Photos: Merritt Martin and Jake Barnhart/EDFW]
It took three years to make it happen, but tonight the doors (and windows and gates) will finally open at Tim Love's Woodshed Smokehouse.
"It's who I am now," Love said Monday evening, as he took leave from his design team from Johnson & Seitz and showed Eater around the place. And that place, while seemingly massive, is totally homey.
It's a backyard on the river -- but, oh, you know, one that could host live music for an audience of 600. There are yard games and a huge photogenic cow, picnic tables and twinkling trees. "People feel a lot cooler when they're looking at green trees instead of big umbrellas," Love noted. That said, the building was actually designed to block the sun -- and to take advantage of location.
The inside is essentially outside if the weather allows. Huge retracting garage-style doors pull up to channel the Southern breeze off the Trinity River. There's no air-conditioning in the Woodshed, and by that we mean in the actual smoking area out back, and in the restaurant itself. Breeze, fans and misters will work together in the summer, while industrial heaters mean diners could actually eat with the doors up year-round.
Speaking of eating...
Love's talent is offering up accessible adventure. Here, it's chicken skin sandwiches, smoked meats and kimchi, or ramen with the day's meat drippings. Letting his meat-freak flag fly, if you will. Actually, he'll literally be flying a flag announcing the animal of the day, and diners will be able to see it prepared through the kitchen windows.
And yes, while smoke is a large part of what Love and the Woodshed crew do, it's not all of it. Love stressed that it's about the wood. Hickory, oak, pecan and mesquite. Texas woods. Diners will see nods to the raw fuel not only in the food, but also in the grain of the tables, the patterns of the curtains, the backing of the menus -- all over the Woodshed, really.
The restaurant, as has been mentioned before and should be again, is incredibly green. "I think we're going to be the greenest restaurant in Fort Worth," Love said, handing over a plastic, recyclable cocktail "glass" for a squeeze. Woodshed boasts no glass, no straws (benefiting river wildlife among other things), electric car plug-ins, and plastic drinkware that lasts 40 washes before recycling. And there's that no A/C thing, too.
Love says Mario Batali, his "Spaghetti Western" cohort, has already trekked down to see the Woodshed (it was a thumbs-up), and now tonight the rest of the dining public will have its first opportunity (full coffee bar opens Saturday). Let us know what you think in the comments.