Carey Bringle brings Texas Icehouse Community, Barbecue, and more to his Oasis.
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In The Nations, there’s a curious triangular strip of land formed by Louisiana Avenue, 49th Avenue North, and Centennial Boulevard— once home to an auto collision repair shop.
When Carey Bringle of Peg Leg Porker fame learned it was for sale, his search for a new business location came to an end. In an ambitious undertaking inspired by Texas Hill Country icehouses, the award-winning pitmaster envisioned and transformed that curious triangle into Bringle’s Smoking Oasis.
What are icehouses? Originally, in rural central Texas before the advent of refrigerators, icehouses were places that sold ice. Over time, they evolved, adding hot and cold beverages, groceries, and then prepared food to their offerings. Icehouses have large outdoor areas with seating, often with picnic tables, live music, big grills, yard games, whatever the community desired—because, in its day, the icehouse was the community hub. Bringle traveled throughout Texas and became entranced with this disappearing icehouse culture, as well as the kind of barbecue he would serve at it.
“I put myself into an intentional box at Peg Leg. I wanted to do strictly West Tennessee barbecue, pork, and chicken. No brisket. Bringle’s Smoking Oasis is a very different place. For one, beef is on the table,” said Bringle.
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And so much more. As you approach The Oasis, you’ll see a fenced-in green strip of land (definitely kid and dog friendly), a central island bar with two jumbo flatscreens suspended from either side of the structure flashing two different games, an array of picnic tables and benches, Adirondack-style lawn chairs, and corn hole boards. Music is upbeat and happy. Behind all
that is the restaurant proper. Step inside. To the far left is the bar serving all manner of beer and Bringle’s specialty cocktails. (Note: Pork and Stormy, Bringle’s version of a mule melding ginger beer and Peg Leg’s bourbon, is crisp, refreshing, and partners well with barbecue.) Along the main wall is the cafeteria-style line. From meats to sides, Bringle has assembled an array of tempting offerings that differ greatly from Peg Leg.
“We’ve got a great pit crew and a solid set-up to cook Texas-style in volume. And we cook fresh daily,” he says. “Brisket is never as good as that moment you slice it. Our meats get sliced before your eyes.”
Indeed, that brisket is sweetly smoked and succulent. Bringle has designed a tangy sauce to accompany, although the meat stands on its own. Jalapeno cheddar smoked sausages satisfy, spiked with oozy cheese and the right amount of kick. But the surprise sleeper is the pastrami. Bringle first experimented with it for a Saint Patrick’s Day celebration at Peg Leg. The beef is corned (salt-cured) and rubbed in a complex spice blend before going into the smoker, cooked low and slow. The flavor is incredible. Like the brisket, it has bark: that toothsome crust, integral to the pleasure of eating barbecue. Sides rotate and are seasonally driven. And, other than the mac and cheese, they differ from Peg Leg. Try the Street Corn: grilled kernels stirred with bits of cotija roasted poblano, a little mayo, and Tajin seasoning. Savory cowboy beans are punched up with chorizo. Mustard greens are simmered to tenderness.
“I’ll prepare other cuts of meats as I come across them, such as a strip loin, or a tri-tip. On special occasions, I’ll smoke beef ribs. Done right, those dinosaur cuts are amazing.”
Bringle and his team are excited about all of the possibilities that The Oasis will allow, especially as warm weather arrives. The goal is to serve lunch and dinner six times a week with lunch focused more on sandwiches and tamales. Plans include outfitting the strip with an Asado grill (“I’d like to char-grill oysters,” Bringle says with a broad smile) and a separate snack bar container with a small kitchen to serve wings, dogs, and smash burgers. Live music, karaoke, and movie nights are also in the offing.
“This is a hang,” he says. “We want to be the place that you, your friends, and family can come and have fun.”