Before Tim McLaughlin began spending hours over smokers, perfecting brisket and packing it into Lockhart Smokehouse’s potato salad, he was a fine dining chef. The Le Cordon Bleu alum spent 15 years in the finer end of food, eventually becoming a culinary instructor himself. Soon, both worlds will collide with his next venture: Crossbuck BBQ. It’s set to open this fall in Farmers Branch at 4400 Spring Valley Road (suite number forthcoming) next to ODD Muse Brewing Company.
McLaughlin will remain a co-owner of Lockhart, but Crossbuck will be his full-time home from here on out.
“We’re looking at this restaurant as being, as far as the menu design, the crossroads of American barbecue. It’s not just gonna be Texas barbecue,” says McLaughlin. “You know I’ve been at Lockhart for 10 years and we’ve done a really good job of our homage to Central Texas barbecue. And now, after all that time, I’m really excited to share my style of barbecue with the city.”
That means putting his spin on various barbecue traditions, from Memphis-style pulled pork to St.Louis-midwestern ribs. The brisket McLaughlin is known for will remain, “Nobody needs to freak out,” he reassures.
Pulling also from his background in fine dining—specifically French and Asian cuisines—McLaughlin plans to incorporate bold flavors. Something he says he’s always employed, but here expect “bold, punch-you-in-the-face, memorable flavors.” Not Asian flavors per se, as McLaughlin doesn’t intend to douse everything in soy sauce, but it’s still, “HEY! I’M A BRISKET,” as he puts it.
But don’t get it twisted. The cooking technique for meats like brisket and pork butt will still get the tried-and-true, 16-to-18 hour low-and-slow treatment. For such a task, McLaughlin is getting two precision-crafted 15-foot smokers from Travis Magee of M Grills based out of Mesquite.
The menu will have somewhere around six to seven items alongside five or six sides, with three or four features of the day. The latter will be some creative rotating options. Sides, too, are where McLaughlin and his crew can let their creative minds wander from the well-beaten path of traditional ‘cue accompaniments we might be used to. Expect to see lots of vegetable options, daily smoked salmon, and salads, too, which is great for those not looking for a full-on multiple meat combo platter. One difference that he says will further set sides apart is the attention to fresh, quality ingredients. Whereas “you might see some onions and jalapeños at other barbecue restaurants,” he says, “We might have cipollinis and Anaheim peppers.” A subtle but notable detail.
Crossbuck will have a familiar casual setup—queue up, order your plate, and find a seat, maybe on the big front patio—but McLaughlin has devised a speedier ordering process than the average barbecue joint. With a few more employees in the back, plates that take the guesswork out of wavering over every component of the meal, more than one cash register, and less of the occasionally “intimidating conversation with the pitmaster” that slows a line down. (Skip a line altogether: You’ll even be able to order a meal for two or 10 or 20 online and get it delivered.)
“It’s less of a barbecue joint and more of a barbecue machine,” laughs McLaughlin, who’s keen on meeting people where they’re at in terms of service these days. “I was at Lockhart Smokehouse for the majority of the pandemic and I was watching customers and their needs. And I really do feel strongly that people aren’t interested in waiting in big lines anymore.” McLaughlin says people are now used to getting their food fast and conveniently, something the barbecue could better adapt to.
Construction is underway now, but plans are for a fall debut. Look for an industrial-style space with a patio next door to a brewery. You really can’t get much of a better setup than that.