The long-time-coming Smoke restaurant in Plano will open this weekend, confirmed executive chef Tim Byres. I saw it with my own eyes: The fires are burning, the tables are in place, the servers are getting trained on the menu. They’re ready.

Smoke is a Modern Texas restaurant that centers around meats and vegetables cooked over fire. But this is no campfire set up: Its one-of-a-kind “hearth” in the middle of the open kitchen, built to Byres’ specifications on-site, will smoke, grill and roast while diners watch.

The large hearth is joined by other mechanisms at the aptly-named Smoke: there’s a J&R Oyler pit, a rotisserie that can cook an entire animal, a cold smoker, an Argentinian-style grill for steak and fish, and slate rocks for over-the-fire cooking. Nearby are clay pots —  which Byres says are similar to Crock Pots of the olden days — and big serving trays for new family-style dishes.

Burt Reynolds' chair sits, king-like, at one table inside the new restaurant. You'll need a special reservation to sit in Burt's chair.

Burt Reynolds' chair sits, king-like, at one table inside the new restaurant. You'll need a special reservation to sit in Burt's chair.

Ashley Landis

Fire is the thing here, guys. And if you’re at all into grilling, smoking or eating, there’s lots to geek over.

As previously reported, some of the most popular items on Smoke’s menu at the original West Dallas location will be available at Smoke Plano: things like a beef rib they call “the big rib” and a dish with  pit-roasted cabrito (goat).

Eventually, Byres and his partners Chris Jeffers and Chris Zielke will add family-style feasts. Byres is excited about the sausage by the yard: 3 feet of sausage, coiled and served in the middle of the table. His large barbecue boards — an assortment of smoked meats — are also on the coming-soon family-style section.

Another new item will be his “Eisenhower steaks” — steaks dropped directly on top of red-hot charcoal and lightly charred. The hearth, which takes skill to control because it has no “knobs” to make the heat higher or lower, will enable many of these new dishes.

“I think it’s the next evolution of Smoke,” Byres says. “This is going to give us so many options. Talk about cooking at a primal level.” He even has ideas for a new cookbook in mind, though that’s a long way off. Byres recently won a James Beard award for his cookbook Smoke: New Firewood Cooking. (The award is hanging in the lobby at the new Smoke Plano, but Byres probably didn’t want to draw attention to it.)

If you're into grilling, smoking or eating, there's lots to geek over at new Plano restaurant Smoke.

When Smoke opens, the menu will be small at first. And it’ll be dinner only until the three partners decide it’s time to roll out breakfast, lunch and brunch.

Inside, the design by Marisa Dukowitz and Christy Black is a stunner. Partitioned to feel like a house, the giant restaurant seats 250 and yet seems cozy, with vignettes here and there for eating, lounging and sipping cocktails. The interior is inspired by that West Texas campfire motif and has a side room with a “screen porch vibe” where they might put, oh, a swing dancing band in the corner, Byres says. Its two expansive patios out front evoke the red-dirt desert terrain out West.

Jeffers and Byres both used the same word to describe the design of the restaurant: “fun.”

One of their prides is a king-like chair they purchased from Burt Reynolds’ estate. It sits among more normal-sized chairs at a table near the firey hearth. You’ll need a special reservation to sit in Burt’s seat.

“That’s the seat of honor,” Byres said.

Hanging around the restaurant are photos of people’s grandparents — some they know, others that just add to that knick-knacky vibe of dining in someone’s home. It doesn’t feel at all like the Snuffer’s burger house it once was.

2408 Preston Road, Plano. smokerestaurant.com.

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