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Leslie Brenner Loves 18th & Vine; D Magazine Slams Truluck’s

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Plus, Taco Joint takes a beating from the Dallas Observer.

18th & Vine earns high marks from Leslie Brenner.
18th & Vine earns high marks from Leslie Brenner.
Kelsey Foster

Dallas Morning News critic Leslie Brenner has always been a little hit-or-miss when it comes to reviewing barbecue restaurants, like that time she demanded 5-star wine service from Pecan Lodge. This week, Brenner filed a review of18th & Vine, the new date-night barbecue spot on Maple Ave, and gushed mightily about pitmaster Matt Dallman’s smoked meats:

His ribs, with a slightly sweet, lightly spicy glaze, are as tender as you want them to be, with excellent flavor. Brisket, ordered fatty, was luscious, with the right whisper of smoke and nicely textured bark. None of it needed sauce, but if you wanted it, the sauce was super: nicely spicy, bright and tangy with just a touch of sweetness. Pulled pork, smoked chicken – everything sampled was very good. Not transformative, but spot-on.

She notes that the burnt ends aren’t as good as the “barky, chewy, caramelized” trimmings that you’ll find at Cattleack BBQ or Lockhart Smokehouse, but that chef-inspired plates from former Bijoux owner Scott Gottlich tend to be best when Dallman’s oak-and-hickory fired pit is involved. Three stars. (NB: Pecan Lodge also earned three stars from Brenner back in 2014.)

D Magazine’s Nancy Nichols reviewed Truluck’s, the Uptown seafood institution that recently relocated to a shiny new “two-story, 12,000-square-foot” building behind its old digs. Beyond steamed stone crabs, which Nichols calls “the best in Dallas,” the rest of the menu is decidedly not.

I bought two large stone crabs ($15 each) for an appetizer and proceeded to erase their lovely memory with a piece of redfish served Pontchartrain-style. The delicate fish was topped with a combination of shrimp, crawfish tails, and blue crab obscured by an overwhelming Cajun-style spicy red sauce that did not resemble any Cajun flavors I’ve ever tasted. Even a basic 16-ounce rib-eye was a failure. It was ordered medium rare and delivered medium, and laced with gristly tendons that required a machete to cut through. Service is polished and professional but overzealous. Our server interrupted our conversation on each approach.

Elsewhere, the Dallas Observer’s Kathryn DeBruler called East Dallas fave Taco Joint’s take on Tex-Mex “barely passable.” She does, however, note that the jalapeno ranch at Taco Joint is delicious, and offers a tip: "Get the chicken taco and pile that sucker high with jalapeño ranch before going home, sitting in an empty bathtub and crying." Ouch.

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