Mike Copeland: Helberg move Saturday; Butcher’s Cellar; Washington Gallery; Memorial Day travel


Helberg Barbecue continues to receive back-pats from Texas Monthly while continuing its recovery from a November blaze and prepping to reopen in temporary quarters Saturday next to where it is building a new place.

A Facebook post says Helberg hopes to “clear inspections … and we look forward to seeing y’all at the new spot where we will be returning to meat-market style ordering and outdoor covered seating while our building is being constructed.”

Proprietor Phillip Helberg has said he hopes to have the new restaurant building completed by the end of the year. It is along Highway 6 about a half-mile down the road from the current location at Highway 6 and Lady Bird Road. Since the fire, the joint has remained financially afloat via drive-thru service adjacent to its former home.

Daniel Vaughn, Texas Monthly’s barbecue guru, said his drive-thru experience was worth the trip to Waco’s outskirts. In a story dated April 17, Vaughn called Helberg’s pork steak “the best drive-thru meal I’ve ever had.” He described the process of producing such a mobile culinary delight, saying the meat marinates overnight in a mixture of orange juice, lime juice, minced garlic and jalapenos. Next they get a coating of orange pepper, a mix of spices dominated by ground black pepper and dehydrated orange peel. With seasoning in place, Helberg smokes the steaks for about two-and-a-half hours “then transfers them to a foil boat with more marinade. The boat gets another hour on the smoker until the meat is tender,” Vaughn wrote.

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By weight, the pork steaks are among Helberg’s least expensive, at less than $21 per pound, Vaughn said. A half portion with a small side and a medium drink is priced at $12.

Helberg’s May schedule reveals brisket Philly cheese steak will serve as the featured item May 18, reopening day. That is followed by chicken bucket May 19, a rack of ribs special May 22 and the Filipino pork belly burnt ends May 23.

WATCH NOW: Helberg Barbecue drive-thru filling void between fire, new digs on Highway 6 near Waco

Building permit roundup

Graphic Packaging International continues to build its $1 billion paper mill one bite at a time, this time securing a permit valued at $20 million to place a wastewater treatment building at 2601 Gateway Blvd.

Other building permits of note issued recently include one valued at $1.5 million to remodel the Pilot travel center on the south Interstate 35 frontage road in Robinson. Another permit valued at $500,000 allows remodeling of eight rental units and the manager’s unit at Gloria Inn & Cottages, a bed-and-breakfast at 603 S. Ninth St.

Butcher’s Cellar opening

Restaurant owners Matt and Tiffany Fatheree say their upscale dining destination, The Butcher’s Cellar, will open Friday at 13701 Woodway Drive, also known as Highway 84. A press release calls the venue a “stunning and sophisticated restaurant and bar,” featuring “locally sourced small plates, seafood, and steaks served in a polished upscale setting with unexpected design elements throughout; as much a feast for the eyes as the palate.”

“We wanted to design a menu that reflects the way we like to eat. We enjoy the variety and interaction of trying multiple dishes, so we crafted a menu that encourages guests to mix, match and share their meals,” said executive chef Alejandro Najar said in the press release. He and chef de cuisine Alyssa Osinga were recruited by Fatheree after appearances on the “Hell’s Kitchen” cooking show.

“We are working closely with local growers and farmers to ensure that everything we can source locally, we do,” Osinga wrote. “We are at the Farmer’s Market in downtown Waco every weekend picking up the freshest ingredients available and have enjoyed spending time getting to know the people growing our food.”

The restaurant has identified Iron Table Wagyu in Gatesville as the source of several meat cuts. The entire list includes filet mignon, bone-in-filet, ribeye and bone-in strip, a 28-ounce porterhouse and a 36-ounce tomahawk. An Iron Table Wagyu burger will feature sharp cheddar, shallot jam, special sauce and triple-cooked fries, according to the press release rundown.

“Guests can add creative sauces to their steaks including Bone Marrow Demi, Crab Bearnaise, Pickled Pepper Chimichurri and Wild Mushroom Au Poivre. A selection of sides and house-made desserts from Pastry Chef Kara Williams rounds out the menu,” the press release says, also mentioning seafood options including lobster sushi tacos and specialty items such as roasted bone marrow, potato mochi, lobster tagliatelle and 1000 layer potato.

The Butcher’s Cellar will seat 180 including the lounge and bar area. Dinner service will be available 4:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Washington Gallery

Washington Gallery, 715 Washington Ave., will host a grand opening May 24, kicking off its introduction to Waco with an art exhibit titled “Road Trip to Waco.” The venue touts itself as home to affordable artwork, with local exhibitors given preference.

Besides fine art and books on the subject, Washington Gallery will host special features such as “Beyond the Gallery Walls,” which will offer tips on working with interior designers, solutions for large-scale projects, and placement and design consultation. A Facebook page dedicated to Washington Gallery notes the gallery has softly opened, but will close Wednesday through Monday as staffers attend the Affordable Art Fair in Austin.

Of note, Washington Gallery contracted with the Village Lamplighter in Lorena to assist with lighting fixtures that include a chandelier.

Big Memorial Day travel plans

AAA Texas predicts 3.6 million Texans will take trips 50 miles or more away from home during the Memorial Day travel period from May 23 to May 27. That is a 4.2% jump from travel totals last year and the largest projected Memorial Day prediction since its forecasting began in 2000.

Statewide, AAA Texas travel advisers say the top road trip destinations are Galveston, Corpus Christi, the San Antonio River Walk, Fredericksburg and the Texas Hill Country, and the metro areas of Austin, Houston and Dallas.

“Memorial Day is the unofficial start to summer and many friends and families are planning to spend the holiday weekend at cookouts, popular landmarks and even taking international vacations,” said Galen Grillo, vice president and general manager of AAA Texas, in a press release.

Nationwide, AAA predicts 43.8 million people will travel for Memorial Day, up 4.1% from last year and approaching the 2005 record of 44 million.

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