Sunday, May 16, 2010
TYLER: Stanley’s Famous Pit Bar-B-Q
525 S. Beckham Ave
Open M-Sat 11-9
Update: On a trip down to Nacogdoches, the family stopped for 'cue in Tyler at Stanley's. I'd visited once before with a friend and found many faults with Stanley's although it seemed to have potential. After meeting owner Nick Pencis at the Gettin' Sauced event in Austin, he urged me to return and try some of the recipes he had tweaked, most importantly the brisket. It has improved but there are still some issues.
Again, I ordered a four meat sampler along with a turkey sandwich for my wife. I actually enjoy BBQ sauce as a condiment (just not on well smoked meat), but my wife can't stand it. So when my platter arrived with sauce on the side, and my wife's sandwich had sauce all over the meat, I was confused and disappointed. After wiping it off with some paper towels, she had an edible sandwich of tender smokey turkey from an actual turkey breast rather than some processed bird. The sausage type had not changed, but these grocery store grade links had received a heftier dose of smoke to make them more palatable. Baby back ribs were meatier, but had a good crust despite the heavily sweet glaze. A good amount of smoke could be detected in these tasty ribs. Brisket was also smoky, and showed a great improvement from the first visit. Although too much fat had been trimmed, what was left behind were slices with a nice bark and a plenty good smokering. The flavor was smokey, and the meat was moist and perfectly tender. This was some good beef.
Two portions of pork. Which one looks better?
Pulled pork was a conundrum for me. The first batch was pale, monochromatic, and lacked much flavor at all. I explained this to the pit master, who promptly switched it out for a much better portion of pork that had bits of black bark with plenty of flavor and smoky goodness. I decided to reward a pit master who was willing to make it right rather than downgrade them for giving me a substandard portion of meat to begin with.
July 2009: The four meat sampler plate should become a staple of every self-respecting BBQ joint. The idea of piling a plate with multiple proteins, and diggin' in without the distractions of cole slaw, pinto beans or anything else to slow down the ingestion pleases me. The folks over at Stanley's seem to agree with me.
A friend from LA wanted a taste of some good Texas 'cue so we headed out to East Texas in search of some transcendental smoked flesh. I provided the expertise and the route, he provided the rental car and the photography. At Stanley's we bellied up to the counter to place an order for a plate overflowing with ribs, hot links, sliced brisket and pulled pork. In addition, we just had to order the "Brother-in-Law" sandwich based on the name alone. At this joint meals are prepared in the kitchen rather than right on the counter, so we sat in a booth sipping sweet tea until our order was called.
A plate full of meat is a beautiful sight, but we dove in shortly after admiring the visual affect. Hot links were underwhelming slices of slightly spicy pork sausage...not a great start, as hot links seemed to be a misnomer here. The ribs had a sweet tangy glaze applied lightly to the dark smoky crust. These baby backs weren't very meaty, which allowed the smoke to penetrate the full depth of the rib. The tender meat also had a good level of moisture, some of which can be attributed to the glaze. Although sauced, these ribs were enjoyable. It should be noted that the liberal use of sauce is generally what separates the East Texas style from the Central Texas style. This wouldn't be the last time this was encountered on this trip.
Brisket had a more traditional preparation with a light rub leading to a decent crust and a good smoke line. The meat was moist, but the ease with which it broke apart in my hands was evidence that it may have been overcooked a bit. Also, the smoke and flavor was there, but the fat was missing in these too-lean slices. Finally, the wholly untraditional pulled pork was the best item on the plate. The mixture of tender shredded pork, black bits of crust and small bits of rendered fat came together with the nutty flavored sauce that was applied with restraint. We thought it may actually contain some asian peanut sauce. Odd...but good.
The final item was the Brother-in-Law sandwich. Chopped beef, sliced sausage and American cheese were piled atop a buttered bun and doused with the house sauce. Hot sauce was available on the side, but eaters were warned that the staff would no longer replace food that had been doused with this screaming hot sauce. Squirt at your own risk. Before taking the sauce challenge, we took a few bites, and all of these flavors came together quite well. I had doubts about cheese and brisket, but the sausage buffer was key to this flavor profile. Adding the grainy hot sauce added a pleasant kick without much pain.
Stanley's may not have any one outstanding traditional Texas BBQ item, but judged on the whole, this joint is worth a stop.
Posted by BBQ Snob at 8:06 PM
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.
-THE PROPHETS OF SMOKED MEAT
-THE PROPHETS OF SMOKED MEAT