by Steven Doyle
Katy Trail Ice House is known for many things. Their convenience to the trail, a collection of absolutely beautiful people to people watch while enjoying one of many tap brews, a damned good burger and BBQ. Wait, BBQ? Thursday through Sunday while it lasts, yes BBQ.
Recently we checked in with pitmaster and kitchen manager Eduardo Flores at Katy Trail Dallas and he showed us around his pits and even invited us into his kitchen for a burger. Exciting day when you are able to score a pass into a busy kitchen such as Katy Trail on a Saturday afternoon.
In the pit, with the good assistance of up-and-coming pitman Kelvyn Reyes we were shown the process of prepping briskets, rib, turkey and now one pretty terrific beef tenderloin that Flores serves up with a freshly grated horseradish sauce that is creamy and inviting. The sauce is a match so perfectly sound you might etch a tear. But then you move onto the ribs.
For the record, if you are ever served ribs that fall off the bone, you were gypped. Bamboozled even. Ribs should be tender but giving. They should leave a perfect bite mark in the meat we tasted. These are competition ribs that Flores is serving and come highly recommended for their delicately smoked flavor with a spicy kick. Plan on an early arrival time because these ribs sell fast. Being stuck with a burger at Katy Trail is never a bad thing, but they are best served with a side of ribs.
Allow me to speak about the turkey a bit and let it be known I am not much of a fan of this particular bird. Even some of the best pitmasters render this meat dried and often tasteless. Sad really. However we did witness a vast amount of boneless breasts immersed into a brine that is flavored with the house seasoning which is slightly salty, slightly sweet with a good amount of pepper for measure. There the birds rest while awaiting their fate in the custom smoker. The turkey is never dry,. You will taste juicy slices of turkey that have a kick and you will wonder what the hell your grandmother has been feeding you all these Thanksgivings.
The sausage Flores shared with us was a bit spicy. I imagined it being a jalapeno sausage but in fact it is simply a custom made kielbasa from Flores’ recipe and contains no jalapeno peppers. The sausage is not a bit salty, which can be a major flaw in many custom sausages, and does have an ethereal spiciness to the meat.
We were then escorted into the main kitchen where a huge crew of chefs managed by Christian Mendoza were busily knocking out massive onion rings, burgers, chicken sandwiches and cheesy fries. I now know the secret to these cheese fries and will share here now: home-cut fries, mounds of freshly grated cheddar, scores of chopped scallions, jalapenos and a few handfuls of bacon. It is a harmonious flavor bomb that kept one man in the kitchen busy all day.
I also have the key to their burgers. A seasoned grill that renders the meat with beefy goodness. Add to this fresh veggies and sandwich a few patties with cheese. It is not one of the biggest burgers in town. Not one of those pound beef bombs that will make you regret for the rest of the day. Instead it is a great burger that you may enjoy with a few beers and sit back and smile, soaking up some great Dallas sunshine.
The crowd at Katy Trail Ice House is as diverse as you will find in Dallas with all ages represented. There is a bit of schadenfreude to be enjoyed watching the joggers pass by sweating off pounds while you enjoy a local beer and nibble on ribs and tenderloin. There is time for that run another day.