Iron Chef-slaying, yellow Porsche-driving chef and restaurateur Kent Rathbun has added a new restaurant to his empire: Specializing in burgers and barbecue, Hickory is considerably more casual than Abacus or Jasper's — with a lower price point to match.
Located at 121 and the Tollway in the space that was formerly Zea Woodfire Grill (later rebranded KB's Woodfire Grill), Hickory strives for a "modern roadhouse" vibe supported by rustic wood planks on the walls, cushy booths, and bar-height tables with nailhead trim stools. An outdoor patio is outfitted with picnic tables and a lounge area complete with a fireplace.
The menu is heavy on the smoked proteins, from housemade sausage to pepper-crusted Wagyu brisket; Rathbun and chef de cuisine Jeff Qualls are relying on a wood-fired pit from J&R Manufacturing known as the Little Red Smokehouse. Most of the standard barbecue sides are here, though with the sort of fancy touches you'd expect from Rathbun: mac and cheese is made with Texas cheddar and parmesan cornbread crumble, slaw is freshened up with chayote and green apple, and grits are made from blue corn. To drink, a menu of $9 cocktails includes a barrel-aged Old Fashioned and prickly pear margarita, plus bourbon flights and local craft beer on tap.
Mock service was held Friday night for friends and family; a grand opening date hasn't been set in stone just yet, but stay tuned for the official word. UPDATE: Per GuideLive, Hickory officially opens Monday, June 15.