Monday, March 22, 2010
CELE: Cele Store
18726 Cameron Rd
Manor, TX 78653
Open Fri 5:30-9:30
Cele (pronounced like "seal") may share an area code with Austin, but that's where the similarities end. We met some friends at this out of the way joint in this small town west of Pflugerville. The town is so small (pop. 92), that it lost its post office in 1902, hence the Manor address. The fresh smell of cow manure greeted us as we exited the car and headed towards the dimly lit screen door. Our friends waited at the bar inside this century old establishment hoping that we had made reservations. Given its secluded location and lack of a wide following, they require reservations for their Saturday dinner service simply to calculate how much meat needs to be smoked that evening. "Vaughn 7:00" written with a Sharpie on our paper tablecloth assured that we had reservations.
Ordering was simple. The choices were brisket, ribs and sausage, and we wanted them all. A short while later a heap of meat on butcher paper was delivered family style to our table. In addition to the meat, the platter included white bread, pickles, onions, sauce and cheddar cheese. Rather than sliced, the brisket had been cubed, but each cube had a bit of the salty crust. There was plenty of fat left on, but it was all nicely rendered so there was no need to pick through those cubes. The smokiness was a bit subdued, but the overall flavor was great from the well seasoned crust. Sausage from Meyer's in Elgin was perfectly smoked with a nice snap and without the excessive grease. Ribs were deceiving. I expected little smokiness given the lack of bark, but each rib was perfectly seasoned and nicely smoked. The meat came cleany from the bone, but the fat could have been a bit more well rendered.
After the meal, we got a tour of pits with pit master Brandon. We also got a bit of the history of the place. The original store opened in the late 1800's and was added on to over the years. The family patriarch, Marvin, had run the place for years until he passed in 2007. The joint then closed for nine months until Brandon and his mother reopened the joint in early 2008. They use the same brick pit that's been there since the 60's and they use all post oak.
The Salt Lick seems to get all the road trip love from Austinites looking for a good weekend 'cue fix, but Cele really deserves some consideration. The atmosphere is more family than party, and it's closer to downtown than Driftwood. Our bill was also only $40 for our party of four, and we were stuffed. In addition to the good food, the sincerely friendly service will keep me coming back. Just bring cash and make a reservation.
Posted by BBQ Snob at 7:36 AM
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