After years of perfecting their own backyard recipes, foodies Brian Lewis and Lisa Kuhfeldt decided to take barbecue manners into their own hands.
With their new Oak Leaf Smokehouse — which just opened on Telephone Road in the old Pete's BBQ space — the husband-and-wife team hopes to expand the dialogue about a American culinary tradition with one of the Houston's most extensive BBQ menus.
"We want peop le to know there's more than one type," Kuhfeldt says of the menu.
"We want people to know there's more than one type," Kuhfeldt tells CultureMap. "We're concentrating on the Texas variety right now, but will be adding Carolina, Memphis and Kansas City sauces as we move forward."
But as much expertise as Oak Leaf will bring to the city's food scene, it was only a decade ago that barbecue was a bit of a marital sticking point for the couple.
"We both love food, but I honestly never really liked barbecue," Kuhfeldt notes.
"I always found it too smoky or too salty or too sweet, but Brian made it his mission in life to get me to enjoy it . . . Eight years later, I absolutely love barbecue and we have our own restaurant."
"We're concentrating on the Texas variety right now, but will be adding Carolina, Memphis and Kansas City sauces as we move forward."
In addition to spreading the gospel of BBQ, Oak Leaf is upping the ante in the sides department as well — offering beans, slaw, potato salad and corn pudding that are all vegetarian and gluten-free.
"When we first started going to BBQ places, I'd always head for the sides. At most restaurants, though, the side dishes are an afterthought. Here we're making sure nothing will ever come out of a tub while reaching out to customers who don't eat meat or gluten."
The sides are carefully-crafted almost as small plates — think purple cabbage slaw with Fuji apples or a uniquely warm German-style potato salad — allowing herbivores to piece together a veritable feast of non-meat options.
Located at 1000 Telephone, Oak Leaf is currently open everyday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. A grand opening is expected in the next month, during which the restaurant's full line of regional barbeque will be released.