My husband and I have a lot of trouble eating out. Over the last ten years or so, we’ve become what I would call “at home chefs.” Between Food Network (with a heavy lean towards Alton Brown), ChefSteps (YouTube) and Bon Appetit’s YouTube channel, we’ve learned how to make phenomenal meals at home. We invested in an immersion circulator several years back and it’s changed our meat game like nothing else. We can pretty much make a restaurant quality meals at home, for a fraction of the cost, and have it cooked to perfection.
Now, that’s kind of a double-edged sword . . . one, we don’t get the feeling of getting all gussied up and ‘going out’. Two, we don’t get to sit and relax and be waited on. Finally, the restaurants we might splurge on have disappointed us. Steaks aren’t cooked to the right temp. Asparagus is fibrous. Dishes were just lacking proper seasoning. I sound like a huge food snob, I’m sure, but when you can make food to a certain standard, you expect a restaurant to be able to hit the same standard, especially when paying so much.
So, this brings us to Bill’s Smokehouse. Naturally, we were leary. We hold a special place in our hearts for barbecue. It’s smokey, succulent and just plain delicious. Also, it’s something we can’t do at home . . . yet. 😉 So we have our favorite place in town to get it and hold all others to that standard.
As we walked into Bill’s on a cool, dark evening, we could smell the smokers from the back. The restaurant was quiet as there were only a couple other tables with guests. The room was moderately lit and looked nice with a classic, high-end look with a lean towards the a western theme. Booths and tables are both available and our booth was comfortable. Soon, we were the only table.
Considering the menu is full of local, organic meats, it’s kind of hard to make a choice.We had a nice basket of corn bread while we made our decisions. While the inside was tender and sweet, the sides were dry. I went with the 28-day wet aged USDA choice tenderloin filet, six oz, a ⅓ rack of ribs, a side of apple slaw and fried Brussell sprouts. My husband got the pulled pork and brisket with sides of collard greens and green beans with bacon and onion.
We also tried the sausage sampler as an appetizer. The sampler came with a smoked pork sausage, a chicken sausage, a couple cheeses and two mustards, as well as plain and wheat crackers. The smoked pork sausage was great as the skin was tight and had a good snap. The meat was well seasoned, smokey and had background hints of anise. (Side note: Neither of us are anise or licorice people, but we both agreed this sausage was great.) I had described this in my notes as “almost like eating pepperoni but special.” The chicken sausage was dry and pretty tough but the flavor was okay.
There were two mustards one being a thicker brown mustard that was really good. The other was a honey mustard that seemed artificial. The cheeses and crackers were pretty standard but good.
Then . . . our meals came. Along with the meals came a caddy of 6 different barbecue sauces. They were as follows:
Blueberry: This was a sweeter sauce that was a blend of blueberries and jalapeno. It’s heat was on the mild side and it’s sweetness was probably about the sweetest I’d want it before I’d think it was meant for pancakes rather than meat.
Alabama White Sauce: Imagine a caesar dressing, heavy on the mustard with a twang of heat. I could imagine this being pretty tasty with chicken.
Carolina Mustard Sauce: This was a mustard sauce that seemed to be thinned with bread & butter pickle juice. This sauce did have some heat to it.
Bill’s Smokehouse BBQ: This was a nice thin sauce with a focus on paprika and garlic. This had a low level of heat.
Sweet BBQ: With cinnamon and nutmeg in the foreground, this sauce was a neat twist. Nice barbeque flavor and sweet.
Kentucky Bourbon BBQ: Brown Sugar and bourbon were upfront with some heat.
We tasted these sauces on my husband’s brisket and pulled pork. The generous serving of brisket was tender and flavorful. It paired well with most of the sauces. His pulled pork was a bit dry. My ribs were great and our favorite of the smoked meats.
We tried to pick vegetables for our sides that would be a little lighter and have some balance to the barbecue. We ended up with a lot of heavy flavors that competed with the barbecue and not being able to finish any of them. All of these dishes had generous portion sizes that made for great leftovers.
Finally, let’s talk about the 28-DAY WET AGED USDA CHOICE 6 OUNCE TENDERLOIN FILET! (Yes, I am yelling. Yes, it was that good!) I keep telling my husband about the steaks down at St. Elmo’s in Indianapolis because the filet mignon I had there eons ago was the best steak of my life. I keep saying how we need to go there. While I still think we do, I can now say that we can definitely get a phenomenal steak here in town.
First, the crust was just right. Salty, peppery but all in the right amounts and balanced. Then the first slice revealed the lusciously pink interior. It was melt-in-your-mouth tender. The salty, meaty juices covered the tongue like a blanket of flavor. We ordered it medium rare and it was perfect.
If the only thing we ever ate at Bill’s Smokehouse again was the aged steaks, it would be enough to bring us back, time and time again.
Thank you, Bill!
305 E. Washington Center Road
Fort Wayne, Indiana 46825
Hours of operation
Tuesday: 4 PM – 10 PM
Wednesday: 4 PM – 10 PM
Thursday: 4 PM – 10 PM
Friday: 4 PM – 10 PM
Saturday: 4 PM – 10 PM
Sunday: 10:30 AM – 2 PM Brunch Buffet + Reg Menu