Without much fuss, Hank’s Texas BBQ has moved to Clintonville at the location once occupied by the Old Skool. A gigantic smoker the size of a coin is posted in front. Beyond that, Hank’s decor suggests it could serve just about anything: its walls feature large TVs, but are absent from cute barbecue designs or carnivorous art.
But there’s no doubting the tantalizing aroma that fills the air. Between the smoky bouquet and the name, you already know what’s on the menu.
The best approach is to test everything, at the same time, with the BarBQtery Consulting ($24, rhymes with “charcuterie board”, right?). It’s a mix of all the house barbecue meats and big enough to share. That is: a person should not try to eat it alone. It just seems unhealthy.
But delicious nonetheless.
One order delivers a quarter pound each of homemade beef brisket, pork, sausage, three ribs and half a chicken. There’s also white bread, crispy pickles, pickled red onions, and fiery chow-chow; they are distractions, however. It’s meal time.
Stars include chicken and sausage slices. The sausage scored high points because… it’s not an afterthought; it is not a gift. The house takes the sausage seriously with a lean link offering ample savory smoky flavor. It’s not junky fair food, where coarse fat runs down your chin. This sausage here is practically a luxury dish.
Meanwhile, in the poultry department, the half-chicken has also absorbed the smoke like a sponge. The smoke gives it a slightly unnerving pinkish hue, but that’s par for the course, and a sign of the excellent flavor it will deliver. It accomplishes this task without dryness, and the juicy smoked chicken is indeed a rare bird.
The ribs were good, neatly trimmed, more meat than bone, with a signature pink ring. The brisket and pork both wanted a little more salt. The solution is offered in abundance, at the table with several homemade sauces to choose from. None are better than Hank’s Texas BBQ Sauce, which is rich and tangy without cloying sweetness. That said, Hank’s White BBQ is definitely a cousin of Ranch Dressing, and it’s Ohio, so there’s no arguing it wasn’t as popular at the table. You can put this on anything.
Maybe that’s not enough meat? Well, the menu also has burgers, or you can try the Rib tips ($14). The bite-sized ends are an appetizer and just as meaty as the ribs themselves. They feature a glossy enamel finish with a classic barbecue sauce.
At this point, it’s time to check out some vegetable options. Shishito Tempura ($9) feature the pepper in a crisp, cool, deep-fried coating. The spicy mayonnaise companion adds some weight.
There are green cabbage also, they are barbecue classics, and offered on the menu with other accompaniments ($4) that include macaroni and cheese (very creamy) and baked beans. A solid selection, and silky puffs stand out here, smoother than anything that can be achieved at home.
Hank’s also has a full bar (it’s easier to sit there, actually), and its menu includes smoked drinks. Example: The Smokin’ Jack is a mixture of Jack Daniels and house-smoked Coca Cola. There are also more classic cocktails, wine and lots of beer. The tables in the house fill up faster than the seats in the bar, which makes the place a good place to drink and dine.
You’ll find it at 2941 N. High St.
For more information, visit hankstexasstylebbq.com.
All photos by Susan Post