Restaurant Review: Hank’s Texas BBQ
Without much fuss, Hank’s Texas BBQ plopped itself down in Clintonville in the spot once occupied by Old Skool. A ginormous, room-sized smoker is stationed out front. Beyond that, Hank’s decor suggests that it could serve just about anything: its walls hold big televisions, but are absent cutesy barbecue motifs or carnivore art.
But there’s no mistaking the mouthwatering 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-drive everything, all at once, with the BarBQtery Board ($24, rhymes with “charcuterie board”, right?). It’s a mix of all the barbecue meats in the house, and big enough for sharing. That is to say: One person should not attempt to eat it alone. That just seems unhealthy.
But delicious, though.
An order delivers a quarter-pound each of house brisket, pork, sausage, three ribs, and half a chicken. There’s also white bread, crisp pickles, pickled red onions, and some fiery chow-chow; those are distractions, though. It’s meating time.
Standouts include the chicken and the sausage slices. The sausage scored major points because…it’s not treated as an afterthought; it’s not a gimme. The house takes sausage seriously with a lean link boasting ample savory smoke flavor. It’s not junky fair food, where gross grease runs down your chin. This sausage here is practically fancy fare.
Meanwhile, in the poultry department, the half-chicken has also soaked up the smoke like a sponge. The smoke gives it a bit of an 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 juicy smoked chicken is a rare bird indeed.
The ribs were good, neatly trimmed, more meat than bone, with a signature pink ring. The brisket and the pork both wanted a bit more salt. The solution is offered in abundance, table-side with several house sauces to choose from. None are better than the signature Hank’s Texas BBQ sauce, which is rich and tangy without cloying sweetness. That said, the Hank’s White BBQ is definitely a cousin to Ranch Dressing, and this is Ohio, so it’s impossible to pretend that it wasn’t also popular at the table. You can put that on anything.
Perhaps, that’s not enough meat? Well, the menu also has burgers, or you could try out the Rib Tips ($14). The bite-sized ends are an appetizer and just as meaty as the ribs themselves. They boast a shiny glazed finish with classic barbecue sauce.
At this point, it is time to check out some vegetable options. Tempura Shishitos ($9) feature the pepper in a feather-weight, fresh-fried, crunchy coating. The companion spicy mayo adds a little heft.
There are collard greens too, those are a barbecue classic, and offered on the menu with other sides ($4) that include mac and cheese (very creamy) and baked beans. A solid selection, and the silky collards are standouts here, smoother than anything that can be achieved at home.
Hank’s also offers a full bar (it’s easier to score a seat there, actually), and its menu includes smoked drinks. Case in point: The Smokin’ Jack is a mix of Jack Daniels with house-smoked Coca Cola. There are more classic cocktails too, wine, and a lot of beer. The house tables fill up faster than the seats at the bar, so that makes the spot 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