Table Talk: Brisket makes prime cut at barbecue restaurant in Clintonville
Hank’s Texas BBQ is all about the brisket.
Brad Harkrider, chef and owner of the new smokehouse, in the former Old Skool location in Clintonville, said he uses his upscale-dining background and knife skills to clean and trim the prime, all-natural brisket aerodynamically.
Dry rubbed with a proprietary spice mix, the meat is cooked 9 to 13 hours, depending on the size, over oak, cherry and hickory, all hard woods that burn longer, hotter and cleaner, he said.
Sold by weight, starting at the quarter pound, the brisket also is available in a sandwich and as a topping for a number of appetizers.
“Usually, we sell out,” he said.
Hank’s has six homemade sauces, but Harkrider doesn’t suggest using any on the brisket. However, he will recommend, only if asked, the white option, a kind of tangy aioli.
“They’re here because people are going to ask for them,” he said, adding that the white barbecue sauce is a fitting complement to the fresh-cut fries.
Hank's also offers pulled pork, St. Louis ribs because of their uniform cut, quarter and half chickens and two types of sausages – one traditional and one with jalapeno cheddar.
Classic sides include baked beans, collard greens, macaroni and cheese and corn spoonbread.
Harkrider also kicks up a few starters, such as the fried green tomatoes, dipped in tempura and served with chow-chow, and “bottle caps," tempura-battered jalapeno slices served with ranch.
Most individual items are priced between $5 and $16.
Hank’s is 2941 N. High St. in Columbus at the entrance of Olentangy Village. Very little has changed in the interior since its days at Old Skool, short of a remodeled back bar and removal of the bleachers.
After graduating from the Columbus State Community College culinary program, Harkrider got a job at the Club at Tartan Fields, where he cut his chops on fine dining.
By happenstance, he earned the nom de guerre Hank after a nametag mix-up that resulted in his name appearing as Hank Rider. He said he used the tag, and the name stuck.
He moved on to become executive chef of two local J. Liu Restaurant & Bar locations.
“It’s nice to incorporate the nicer things into something simple,” Harkrider said. “Not that barbecue is simple. It’s quite complex. It’s earned a ‘simple’ stigma.”
Once bereft of barbecue options, the Clintonville neighborhood has seen a relative surge in the cuisine, including Iron Grill BBQ & Brew, the Pit BBQ Grille and Ray Ray’s Hog Pit, a food truck parked at 2619 N. High St.
Harkrider, 38, said he was born in Texas and moved to Ohio when he was about 10. He regularly visited family in the Lone Star State and was drawn to the barbecue culture, both eating and cooking.
“I’ve always enjoyed doing it,” he said.
For the time being, Harkrider has not hired third-party delivery services, partly because of the extra cost to the customer and also because Hank’s is doing too much volume to keep up.
Still, online ordering is available for pickups.
Harkrider said he might offer upscale embellishments on some dishes but his restaurant was built to serve everyone.
“We don’t want to be anything pretentious,” he said. “I want people to come in and feel comfortable.”
Hours are 3 to 10 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays, 3 to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 3 to 10 p.m. Sundays and closed Mondays. For more information, call 614-972-6020.
Top of his game
Following his participation on the current season of "Top Chef," a nationally televised cooking competition, Barua has been tapped to offer a few dishes to ClusterTruck, a kitchen that offers carryout and delivery services only.
Barua has three dishes – a Sichuan hot chicken sandwich, sesame broccoli salad with bacon and pimento cheese veggie poofs – exclusive to the new ClusterTruck kitchen inside Kroger Marketplace, 7625 Sawmill Road in Dublin.
Barua said he and ClusterTruck are working together on a trial basis to see how the dishes are accepted by customers.
Barua is current executive chef of Service Bar, part of the Middle West Spirits complex, 1230 Courtland Ave. near Grandview Heights.
“I always wanted to see how our food travels,” he said.
Meanwhile, the 18th season of "Top Chef," shot last year in Portland, continues to air at 8 p.m. Thursdays on Bravo.