Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Pat Gee's Barbecue

TYLER: Pat Gee’s Barbecue
17547 Jamestown Rd.

Tyler, TX 75707


Open F-Sun 11-7

This second stop on a tour of East Texas first cam to my attention from a reader's recommendation. After seeing the pictures, I knew this shack was a must-see. Driving east of Tyler after a stop at Stanley's, we tooled along a country road until we drove right past this little shack. Making a U-turn at the 4-way stop, we could already smell the smoke. We pulled in alongside a pick-up truck with a load of watermelons for sale. Stepping inside this ancient door was like a jolt back in time with a fan in the corner providing the only cooling and a seasonably dormant barrel fireplace in the middle of the dining room. The walls enveloping the four tables, small counter and old refrigerator were clad not in windows, but in metal screens thirsty for a breeze.

Hangin on the wall was menu painted in wood (nothing else would be appropriate) with prices from another decade. We ordered sliced brisket, ribs and hot links. Meats were fetched one at a time from a smoker through the back door of the kitchen. They were chopped and sliced on a large wooden table by the deft hand of Arthur Gee and piled on a styrofoam plate. A nearby Mason jar full of sauce was then poured over top the mound, whether you like it or not. Vera then peeled the plastic wrap from a top the potato salad container to dole out a few scoops, then headed over to the crock pot for a heaping spoonful of BBQ beans.

Ambience aside, this would be nothing more than an average BBQ joint. The sacue soaked meat was definitely moist, but it the ribs verge on total disintegration. The smoky flavor was there, but after a few bites, they were hardly recognizeable as ribs. Well rendered fat, and good crust kept the sauce flavor from completely overpowering, but if you don't like the sauce, you won't like this meat. The brisket had been somewhat shielded from the bath by the ribs. It was cut thick from the fatty end fo the brisket. Beefiness stood out from the meager crust and smoke ring, and the meat remained a bit tough. Hot links were the far and away standout. These were all beef links with a generous dose of spice and black pepper beneath a snappy casing. With or without sauce, these links are not to be missed.

So the meat wasn't incredible, but it was decent BBQ made with heart and sweat. Just sitting there chatting with Authur and Vera made the trip worthwhile, and I wouldn't hesitate to make a return trip.

Rating ***
Pat Gee's Barbecue on Urbanspoon

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Each joint is judged on the essence of Texas 'cue...sliced brisket and pork ribs. Sausage is only considered if house made. Sauce is good, but good meat needs no adornment to satisfy. Each review can only be based on specific cuts of meat on that particular day. Finally, if the place fries up catfish or serves a caesar salad, then chances are they aren't paying enough attention to the pits, so we mostly steered clear.