Sunday, September 19, 2010
GUEST CONTRIBUTOR: Jacob Reach offered this review of Laird's. It's a good one but not the winning entry. That one's up next.
My first visit to Llano, Texas was over a year ago. I made the trip out there just to try what some people claimed is the best BBQ in central Texas. I stopped at a gas station to ask for directions and a friendly man informed me he lived in Llano for 30 years and claimed quite frankly, “You don’t want to go there; you should go eat at Laird’s Bar-B-Q.” I didn’t head his advice, in fact when a road trip brought me back through Llano on another trip another local citizen that I struck up a conversation with gave me similar advise and informed me that “Lairds is the best BBQ in Llano.” Still didn’t listen, but now I know better. On my next trip to the Llano area I knew I finally had to find out for myself, and thus stopped in to Laird’s.
The business looks like a large house with extra large porch out front with two larger smokers off to the side in a fenced in area. On entering the store my suspicion was confirmed that this building was once a house, and all the serving now comes out of the kitchen while tables are placed into the wide open area next to it. Service is done through waitress service and a menu with different prices and specials for lunch and dinner, plus a steak special on Friday night. Place was packed with a few families and large groups of friends. Everyone did seem to be regulars as they yelled across at each other and the staff kept stopping by to small talk with them. I didn’t make it over until night time, so I was a bit concerned that they could be closed, or worse that the meat would be dried out from sitting around all day. Luck for me the pits where still smoking when I showed up, so I ordered a 2 meat plate with sausage and brisket, sauce on the side.
The briskets texture looked a bit off, possibly being cut with the grain and with jagged cuts and no speckled fat within the meat itself. Also the smoke ring was a strong bright red on one side, but faded on the other. I was afraid it looked a bit dried out also but the look deceived me as it was tender and pulled apart with my fingers. The bark was a bit sparse but I could still taste the pepper and salt rub. More importantly I could taste the rich smoke in every bite which gave it great flavor. Fat had rendered perfectly and made those bites extra tender and buttery. The link of sausage was another exciting choice. The casing had a great snap to it and was densely packed with meat full of pepper and other spices. It locked in the moisture and left the outside soft and snappy and the inside moist and velvety. I even saved about 2 inches of the sausage and threw it in the microwave the next day, still tasted great. Sides were exciting also. Potato salad had big chucks of potato and veggies which gave a full fresh flavor. Beans had captured the smoke and made them more bold and meaty. Sauce was a bit to watery, but I didn’t try much anyway as the meat had no need for it.
Posted by BBQ Snob at 6:37 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