Brisket, roti pork shoulder, smoked turkey, pork spare ribs. Photography by Kim Duffy.

Kent Rathbun’s New Restaurant, Hickory, Opens Tonight in Plano

The scene is fitting for date nights, corporate outings, Dallas-centric game days, and family meals alike.

Hickory, the latest venture from Kent Rathbun Concepts, formally opens its doors today in The Shops at Granite Park, just north of Rathbun’s revered Jasper’s in Plano’s Shops at Legacy.

The scene is fitting for date nights, corporate outings, Dallas-centric game days, and family meals alike. A beautifully crafted bar divides the main dining room from the lounge and patio, both areas which are equipped with ample seating. Fifty-inch flat screen televisions adorn the walls throughout the venue, which speaks to Kent’s desire to provide a cheery atmosphere, without putting off people seeking to view a Cowboys, Mavericks, Rangers or Stars game. The patio has been prepped for year-round utilization with a fireplace (which will be of greater interest months from now) and misters, which are fine-tuned to provide comfort without dousing the guests. The prospect of live entertainment is evident in an area of the patio that can be reserved to host bands.

Brussels sprouts. All photography by Kim Duffy.
Brussels sprouts. All photography by Kim Duffy.
Bret Redman

Under the guidance of Jordan Gantenbein, mixologists from Abacus worked to devise a creative new cocktail menu for Hickory, but were sure to include Kent’s namesake,“Big Daddy.” This signature martini incorporates citrus-infused vodka and Triple Sec, with fresh lemon and orange juice. Given the influence of summer, my personal favorite on the list is Killin’ Thyme, which features Deep Eddy Vodka, cucumber, thyme, lime juice and soda. This fall, my preference will likely revert to the Barrel-Aged Old Fashioned, made with extra-smooth Makers 46 whiskey, orange zest and a dash of Angostura bitters. For the beer enthusiast, Hickory offers eight excellent draft selections, seven of which are from Texas brewers including Revolver, Peticolas, Rahr and Saint Arnold. Whiskey aficionados should not overlook the bourbon flights, which act as an ideal pairing for the various types of the smoked meats available.

Texas cheddar mac & cheese with a parmesan cornbread crumble.
Texas cheddar mac & cheese with a parmesan cornbread crumble.
Bret Redman

As the name infers, Hickory offers various types of barbecue, all of which are smoked in-house atop a calculated ratio of hickory and oak via the “Little Red Smokehouse” (a commercial J&R indoor smoker). This laborious, low-temperature technique provides a depth, texture and complexity that is otherwise unachievable with traditional grilling. Kent’s offerings are diverse, in both the types of meat offered, and also in terms of preparation style. Sure, Texas plays a major influence, but so do other historic barbecue locales such as Tennessee, Alabama, the Carolinas and his home state of Missouri.

Backstrap molasses baked beans.
Backstrap molasses baked beans.
Bret Redman

Worth noting is the smoked pepper crusted Wagyu brisket, the thinly shaved roti pork shoulder and the house-made smoked sausage of the day. Also deserving is the wood grilled pork loin rack with Texas peach barbecue sauce, and the St. Louis style pork spare ribs with ancho chilies. A number of burgers and sandwiches are available, stemming from a classic built-to-order patty on a brioche bun, to exotics featuring lamb sirloin and buffalo. Regardless of your selection, I highly recommend adding the pepper-crusted applewood smoked bacon, a cheese of your choosing, and a fried egg.

Brisket, roti pork shoulder, smoked turkey, pork spare ribs.
Brisket, roti pork shoulder, smoked turkey, pork spare ribs.
Bret Redman

The sides are both apropos and abundant. Rathbun puts his usual spin on classics including, but not limited to, jalapeño jack blue corn grits with roasted tomato butter, a fiery charred creamed corn, backstrap molasses baked beans with applewood smoked bacon, Texas cheddar mac & cheese, crispy Brussels sprouts, and cornmeal-dusted fried green tomatoes complete with charred jalapeño ranch dressing. While I did not have the opportunity to sample, the Shiner Bock burnt ends chili is likely to impress, especially come cooler temperatures and football season.

For those seeking leaner options, Hickory provides four gourmet salads, my personal favorite including colorful baby beets with lambs lettuce, local goat cheese, and a lemon-buttermilk dressing. The salad options are quite ample, so I recommend bringing one out for the table to complement other health-conscious items such as the hickory smoked turkey breast with rosemary-garlic butter, or the wood-grilled fish of the day.

Hickory is located at 8100 North Dallas Parkway and is currently open for dinner, starting at 5 p.m. The restaurant is likely to open for lunch in the coming months, and even breakfast is being considered, which is sure to make for some of the most delicious smoked ingredients available prior to high-noon in Plano.

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