Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Dine With the BBQ Snob

There's a BBQ Hunt going on across the state, and Texas Monthly is behind it. As part of the promotion for the badass BBQ app, they are giving away large amounts of smoked meat and other prizes in various cities. Today, Thursday, June 30th there's a giveaway at Main and Ervay in downtown Dallas. Along with ribs from Baker's Ribs and tickets to this year's Texas Monthly BBQ Festival, you'll also have the chance to dine at a Dallas BBQ joint of your choice with me, the BBQ Snob. The meal and the platform with which you can openly berate me and my BBQ opinions are all free if you win. I hope to see you in downtown Dallas at 12:45pm today.

For continuing details on the hunt, follow myself @BBQsnob and @TMFood.

- BBQ Snob

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Bubby's Backyard BBQ

OKLAHOMA: Bubby's Backyard BBQ
5414 Hwy. 70 West

Mead, OK 73449


Open ?

Inside a gas station called "Push 'em Station" along Highway 70 is Bubby's Backyard BBQ. Squeezed between a soda fountain and fast food pizza is the mini storefront with a wide menu of BBQ and various fried items. I went for the two meat plate, available in both small and large sizes. The small combo plate held a decent amount of thinly sliced beef and three St. Louis style ribs.

The brisket had that corporate BBQ flavor so often associated with the Southern Pride smoker they employ. The meat was tender, moist, completely trimmed of fat and lacking smoke altogether. It was certainly edible, but just not special. Ribs were also good and tender, but any flavor they may have had on their own was marred by the thick, dark and sweet sauce lathered over top. The sacue was commercial, but was actually pretty good. It worked well on the ribs, which probably needed the extra boost. My guess is that this joint probably does a mean chopped beef sandwich.

Rating **

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Monday, June 27, 2011

Williams Old Style Bar-B-Que

COLBERT: Williams Old Style Bar-B-Que
306 Moore Avenue

Colbert, OK 74733


Open Tues-F 11-8, Sat 11-7

Texoma Living certainly has the best coverage of the BBQ in the Sherman/Denison area, and until this visit their reviews had not steered me wrong. After learning that Williams Old Style, just one exit across the border in Colbert, Oklahoma, served beef shoulder clod and had a homemade brown gravy sauce, I just had to visit. It's a small shack on a gravel parking lot along the main drag in tiny Colbert. Orders are taken at the window and only cash is accepted. A friendly guy waiting for his tamale order told me about a few joints in the area that had decent 'cue, but lamented that nothing great existed in the immediate area. I was about to find out if I agreed.

I walked away with an order to feed the family of slaw, pork, clod, sausage and ribs. The ribs are sold by the rack, but what comes out is a ramshackle pile of odd rib ends that were dry and crispy. A thick rub was heavy on the paprika, and that spice's flavor outshined everything else including the smoke. There were a few decent bites in there, but it was barely worth the search. Sausage was Eckrich variety, but had been well smoked. In fact, a link wrapped in a slice of bread with some brown gravy sauce was the best part of the meal. This regional sauce was subtle with flavors of a meaty gravy and a BBQ sauce mixed. There was nothing aggressive about the seasoning in the original sauce, and it didn't have a lick of sugar, but I enjoyed the flavor.

Next up was the clod...or was it the pork? See the photo above and tell me which of those chopped meats is which. I was eventually able to distinguish the beef from pork, but neither of these meats was notable. They were both equally devoid of crust, smoke, seasoning or really any flavor at all. It was stunning how much alike the two meats tasted. Luckily the finely chopped mayo slaw was very good, so a sandwich with slaw and sauce covered all of those smoked meat sins.

Rating *
Williams Old Style Bar-B-Que on Urbanspoon

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Friday, June 24, 2011

Texas Monthly BBQ App - It's Free People!

The greatest app ever made for BBQ lovers is now available at the app store for free - The Texas Monthly BBQ App. You should download it. Not only will it let you find the nearest BBQ joints to your general location, it will tell you if they've been reviewed by Texas Monthly or by me, the BBQ Snob. That's right, this blog has finally made the big time, and you can carry it around with you at all times on your phone.

You can learn more about the app from Thrillist, Eater, Houston Press, AppModo, or from the Texas Monthly site. Or you could just read this quote from Jake Silverstein, editor of Texas Monthly.

"We love barbecue. Mostly we love eating it, but we also love talking about it. So our aim here is twofold. One, to guide people to great barbecue (or in some cases any barbecue, which is better than no barbecue) in Texas and around the world by providing our top 50 list, plus hundreds more excellent reviews [from Full Custom Gospel BBQ], and basic info served via Foursquare, and also by creating a social network where people who love barbecue can talk about their favorite joints—and then to make all of that searchable by GPS. So geolocating smoked meat is the main function, but then beyond that the app also serves as a kind of message board for BBQ fans, where you can ask questions, share links, and argue. Basically, the idea here was Twitter for BBQ. BBQ isn’t just a food, it’s a topic. And so the goal is to create this always-humming conversation about it that you can dip into for either a review or some user feedback about a particular restaurant or just to sound off or just to read along and behold the BBQ hive mind, or the BBQ hive stomach."

If that explanation from the big bad national magazine of Texas doesn't convince you, then just do it for me. Download here.

- BBQ Snob

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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Ben's Bar-B-Que

OKLAHOMA: Ben's Bar-B-Que
8146 US Hwy 70 W

Mead, OK 73449


Open Tues-Thur 11-8, F-Sat 11-9, Sun 11-2

I was out tooling around the Oklahoma side of Lake Texoma when I came across Ben's BBQ between Mead and Durant. A small parking lot had just a few cars at lunch time on a Saturday during prime lake season, but I was hoping the crowds had already come and gone. I placed and order for a three meat plate, one of which would be ham for my wife. She hates barbecue sauce, and ironically they covered only the ham in a layer of thick sweet sauce.

The other meats could have used a similar sauce bath. Brisket had that dried up look of yesterday's meat. The fat was chewy and the meat had little smokiness. It was thick sliced but still falling apart from being so overdone. Spare ribs were huge and meaty, but tough and also lacking smokiness. Not even a dunk in the sauce could save them. I didn't even bother with the ham.

Rating *
Ben's Barbeque on Urbanspoon

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Monday, June 20, 2011

Chasin' Tail BBQ

8656 Stemmons Frwy.

Hickory Creek, TX 75065


Open Thur-Sat 11-9, Sun 11-7

I understand the need for continued brand recognition, but I'm not sure that Chasin' Tail BBQ was well enough known as a competition BBQ team to warrant branding their new restaurant with the mildly suggestive name. Spotting it along I-35, I noticed the 'BBQ' on the sign, but all my wife noticed at 70 mph was 'Chasin' Tail'. I made a verbal note to return on the drive back in a couple of days, and she wanted to know why I was planning a family strip club adventure on a Sunday.

I half expected to see at least a stage with a pole when I walked inside, but it looked much like it did when Doc was tending the pits. I quickly noticed the QCard sign, but the only way to take advantage of the deal was to order two plates. The wife wasn't interested, but I knew my daughter would gnaw on a rib so I went for two combo plates with brisket, ribs, turkey and pulled pork.

The pulled pork was wet, and I don't mean sauced. It was soggy like it had been sitting under a metal lid whose condensation was raining down with authority. The flavors were washed out and the meat had little smoke. This turkey had some oomph with a heavy rub that had some black pepper and cayenne. The meat was juicy, smoky and satisfying.

This joint bills itself as 'competition style' meaning for ribs you can expect a sweet glaze or sauce atop agressively flavored meat. All of flavors had a good balance between spice and sweet, and the ribs were well cooked, but it was just missing a good level of smokiness. Brisket had a bit more smoke with a decent crust. The meat was over-tender, but that meant the fat was nicely rendered. For competition style, this certainly needed more flavor which were provided with a dip in the excellent sauce. It wasn't a thick sauce and was thankfully not too sweet. A bit of kick was added with visible bits of cracked black pepper and a hint of cayenne. A splash of vinegar gave it balance that was perfect for dipping slices of brisket or the grilled Texas Toast.

Sides didn't seem homemade, but they all had a few extra touches after the cans were opened. Beans tasted like they had some of the sauce mixed in and the green beans had some extra zing. A pretty good banana pudding is also offered as a side. If you want to try all the meats and sides, they have an all you can eat offer for all menu items at just $18.49. Maybe next time I'll have to come alone so I can do some proper tail chasin'.

Rating ***
Chasin' Tail BBQ on Urbanspoon

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Saturday, June 18, 2011

Que: Eau de Barbeque

I spend plenty of time around barbecue pits belching hardwood smoke, so my clothes often have the aroma of barbecue. For those days when I need to feel like a legitimate BBQ Snob without a trip to the BBQ joint I can now use 'Que' from Pork Barrel BBQ. If that's not convincing, you can check out their advertisement.

The aroma is a mix of the smokey notes of bourbon with a hint of vanilla and sandalwood, but one thing it does not smell like is my shirt after a day of BBQ'ing and pit tours. I guess I'll have to keep touring the Lone Star State for that authentic smoked meat aroma, but Que will do in a pinch.

- BBQ Snob

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Friday, June 17, 2011

Meat Jams: A Tri-Coastal Tasting

Meat, fat, sugar, fruit and time. These are the things that make up meat jams. There has been a recent fascination from this blog and others with the various flavors of rib jam made by Will Fleischman of Lockhart Smokehouse. My affection for this concoction had me seeking other meat jams, and I found a couple on opposite coasts.

Bacon Marmalade, 4 oz., $15 includes shipping

Bacon Marmalade comes directly from Brooklyn, New York. The ingredient list reads "bacon, sugar, water vinegar, and secrets". The texture was like dry grits, and while spreadable, this is not your average fruit jam. I enjoyed the flavor of this one most with it's deep smokey notes and unmistakable bacon goodness. Originally, Il Cane Rosso in Deep Ellum was using this stuff on their 'Delia' pizza, but now the bacon marmalade is house made and available only on their pies. It's a wetter mix with larger chunks of bacon and a much more vivid vinegar kick. Owner Jay Jerrier says he uses it on vanilla ice cream.

'Delia Pizza' at Il Cane Rosso

I tried the Brooklyn version on a pizza of my own at home with some leftover lamb sausage I had from Lucia, and the resulting flavors were beyond complex, and perfectly satisfying.

Rib Jam, $5 (previously $3), 8 oz., no shipping available

Second up was the rib jam from Lockhart Smokehouse. On this day it was made with cherries (I've seen blackberry and apple as well), rib ends, brown sugar and some BBQ rub. There may have been some whiskey in this batch as well. While I really enjoy the flavor of this one, it is less complex and more watery than the bacon marmalade. It tastes like a reduction of sweet meat with a punch of smoke and unexpected flavor combinations. This one is best on it's own or with some crackers. I've also enjoyed it as a condiment on breakfast tacos.

Bacon Jam, 8 oz., $22.75 includes shipping

Bacon jam is the brain-child of Skillet Street Food in Seattle. They use it on burgers, and suggest using it on grilled cheese and baked potatoes. I'd suggest adding it to your baked beans since that what it already tastes like. Something about the reduction of bacon, onions vinegar, sugar and spices is what I would imagine a bean juice reduction to taste like. One this I do not recommend for this one is to eat it with plan crackers. It just doesn't shine on it's own like the other two.

The above dish is the brain child of myself and my two brothers-in-law. A little butter in the pan, two slices of pound cake and some bacon jam in between. Served a la mode, it was a salty and sweet treat that's best for sharing.

- BBQ Snob

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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Metzler's Bar-B-Q

DENTON: Metzler's Bar-B-Q
628 Londonderry Ln

Denton, TX 76205


Open M-Sat 8-10, Sun 10-8

If you take the exit for Rudy's in Denton, you should know that just a block away is a 64 year old BBQ joint with an attached wine and beer store whose selection rivals Central Market. Metzler's has been around for some time, but it took me way too long to find it. It's a perfect stop for the family on our frequent trips to OKC with a menu that includes burgers, German fare, and of course BBQ.

This is a full service joint, and you can order just about any of the beers in the cooler to enjoy with dinner. I went with the well priced three meat combo with brisket, ribs and sausage. One benefit of a joint with German items is that you can choose German potato salad and sauerkraut as side items. They also show their burger joint side with great fries and onion rings. All the meats are smoked in a wood fired J&R Manufacturing smoker, and it's fueled by mesquite. All of the meats had a good but subtle smoke that wasn't as overpowering as often happens with mesquite smoke. The sausage was a well seasoned fresh German style sausage from Muenster, Texas. These links had a great snap and good smoke. Ribs were pretty skimpy on the meat, and what was left was a bit dry with little smokiness. A dip in their "famous" sauce that tasted like tomato sauce didn't help much. Although a bit dry, the brisket was better with a good crust, decent smoke and good overall flavor.

After you enjoy the BBQ, make your way into the attached beer and wine shop where both domestic craft beers and imported varieties are available. I left with a bock from California, a wheat from Texas and a barley wine from Kansas City. Now that's culinary diversity.

Rating ***
Metzler's Food & Beverage on Urbanspoon

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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

BBQ in The News

Franklin BBQ is getting some serious coverage these days. Within the past week it's been on the front page of the Dallas Morning News (photos are free, the story is behind the paywall), claimed as the best Texas BBQ ever eaten by a food critic in San Francisco (Michael Bauer hails from Dallas, so we'll listen), and made it onto the Cooking Channel's Unique Eats.

Not to be outdone, Snow's also gets some love from the Californians at OC Weekly.

Hanna Raskin is making herself more comfortable in Seattle where she helps me find a mysterious BBQ sign, and then provides some insight on star rating systems of the blogosphere.

Hanna shows up again in the most recent Garden & Gun where she profiles 21 BBQ sandwiches worth traveling for. I'll cut her some slack for including a roast beef sandwich covered in BBQ sauce from Louisiana, because the rest of that list looks pretty legit. You may have heard of Meshack's in Garland from this blog, and Mustang Creek BBQ from Robb Walsh. The article is followed by a concise explanation of regional sauces.

Robb Walsh also fills us in the happenings in College Station during the first annual BBQ Summer Camp put on by Foodways Texas. Something's got me hungry for whole hog. I can't believe I missed this one, especially with subject matter like "Dr. “Nick” Nickerson offered a chemical comparison of smoke from various hardwoods".

The folks at Pork Barrel BBQ release the completely unnecessary but hilarious Que Cologne. Shouldn't you just stand by the pits to smell like this? I ordered some just to find out for myself - review coming soon.

Finally, Texas Monthly released a new BBQ Finder app last week that features reviews from this blog. We're excited to be included, and I'll hope you get the free download to keep track of your BBQ adventures.

- BBQ Snob

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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Slab's Bar-B-Q

MESQUITE: Slabs Bar-B -Q
4401 N Galloway Ave
Mesquite, TX 75150


Open M-Sat 10:30-9, Sun 10:30-7

I was in Mesquite on a fruitless search for a new joint called Mr. Blackwell's Smokering BBQ (if anyone out there knows something about this place, let me know) when I realized I'd need to feed my craving for smoked meat elsewhere. Slabs was just up the road and I hadn't been in a while. They've got a new sign but not much else has changed including the menu. Those same boring sides accompanied an order of brisket and ribs.

Ribs are smoked, then finished on a charcoal grill that really heats up the kitchen. The added flavor it noticeable but not particularly worth savoring. Surprisingly, despite the double cooking method these ribs could have been a bit more tender. Luckily a dip in the sauce helped the flavor. The brisket was much better. A smoky flavor and good level of seasoning made these tender slices quite enjoyable without the sauce. I'll skip the sides and ribs next time and focus on that tasty beef.

Rating **

2009: Take out's the only available way to take in the 'cue at this tiny storefront that shares a building with a gas station. The interior is worn in like a comfortable shoe showing age but not fatigue. The talkative owner serves up his wares with a friendly smile, and he's not shy with his portions. My styrofoam box was filled with sliced brisket and dark smoky ribs. Alongside were some grocery store grade sides of beans and slaw, but the accompaniment was of little importance.

The ribs seemed to have little flavoring added other than smoke, but could have used the umph of a little salt. The meat was deeply smoky with a nice crust and good reddish meat underneath. The meat was bit tough with some spots of poorly rendered fat, but they were still tasty ribs. The brisket was hard to get a handle on. From the photo, you can see that this was not picture perfect brisket, but what deceived the eyes could not get past the tastebuds. The meat was not intensely smoky, but the smokiness lingered behind the other robust flavors of salt and something that bursted with umami flavor that I just couldn't put my finger on. The fat that looks to be tough and chewy was perfectly rendered with more of that elusive flavor. On my next visit, I'll be a bit more inquisitive, and maybe I can get some answer about that tasty brisket.

Slabs Bar Bq on Urbanspoon

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Monday, June 6, 2011

BBQ in the News

John Mueller isn't just a man with a famous last name. He was the owner/pitmaster of an award winning BBQ joint in Austin that bore his name until 2006. Now word comes from Man Up Texas BBQ that John his working his way towards an opening later this summer. You may remember a similar announcement back in early 2010, but this one comes with a proposed location and an actual timeline. Here's hoping we'll all be able to taste that brisket that everyone raved about this past weekend at the Foodway Texas event at Boggy Creek Farm. Follow John on Twitter for the latest.

The newest issue of Saveur is dedicated to BBQ, and not the grilling kind. BBQ Nation is an in depth look at regional styles of BBQ with articles by John T. Edge and Robb Walsh. It's a great read.

Edd Mitchell is a famous North Carolina pitmaster who has been featured on the Food Network and in countless publications. After some tax troubles closed his original joint in 2004, he partnered with a developer to open The Pit in Raleigh in 2007. The joint has garnered wide acclaim, but Edd is moving on. He plans to open up his own place next year.

The Food Network series "Best in Smoke" just wrapped up after four episodes with Matt Lang of Fette Sau in Brooklyn beating out Famous Dave and Chris Lilly of Big Bob Gibson's. If this series gets another season they should consider renaming "Light the Grill" since true smoked meat got very little air time.

If you're a Top Chef fan, you might remember the Voltaggio brothers. They've partnered with Williams Sonoma for the Fire, Smoke & Flavor Tour. A feature of their trip to Lockhart to visit Smitty's is on the W-S website with some links to the Voltaggio brother's recipes which have very little to do with barbecue. The meat recipes require a grill or a crock-pot. I'm sorry, but beef ribs and pork shoulder require indirect heat and smoke, not just sauce, to be called barbecue.

Finally, the Miami New Times (sister paper to the Dallas Observer) provided their opinions about who has the better BBQ between Miami and Texas. While the idea itself is laughable, it became more-so when they actually said that better BBQ could be found in South Beach than in Big D. Dallas's own Cheap Bastard provided a swift and powerful response which started a #miamibbqsucks rampage on Twitter. Let's just say that I have a few BBQ destinations in mind for future travel and Miami hasn't made the list.

- BBQ Snob

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Friday, June 3, 2011

Bodacious Bar-B-Q (Mt. Pleasant)

100 West Ferguson Road
Mount Pleasant, TX 75455

Open M-F 10:30-8, Sat 11-7

Update: This joint is CLOSED and has become a location of Outlaw's BBQ. The menu is nearly identical.

2011: Once again I had some mediocre BBQ at a Bodacious in Sulphur Springs to begin a long road trip. It only took a few minutes after my tweet for someone to suggest the location in Mount Pleasant. I saved it for the trip home, but had second thoughts as I drove through a hail storm along I-30. The clouds seemed to part and the rain stopped as I neared the exit for Mount Pleasant. God seemed to be telling me that Bodacious gold may be in my near future.

To be fair, it was 4:00 in the afternoon when I ordered. Ribs were gone for the day and the brisket tasted like it had been sitting around for a while. The fat was well rendered, and the meat was nicely tender and still moist after the long storage. A good smoky flavor was missing and it could have used more seasoning to fill the void. This would have made a good saucy sandwich, if there sauce was any good. Pulled pork with its bits of black crust made for some smokier meat. The meat was impressively moist with plenty of flavor. Sides were standard fare, with crispy fried okra and well seasoned green beans. While not overwhelmingly stellar BBQ, this location was one of the better that I've tried.

Rating ***
Bodacious Bar-B-Q on Urbanspoon

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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Bar-B-Q Truck

1591 W. Sevier St.

Benton, AR 72019

Phone ?
Open ?

I saw a BBQ truck alongside the road, and I was hoping for something great. The proprietor said he was planning to open in the brick building adjacent to his current parking spot.

I took the sandwich to the car and took a few bites. The pork had minimal flavor and the Bull's Eye BBQ sauce and cold bun didn't help much. I was also surprised at the lack of slaw in this part of the country. The meat wasn't good enough to warrant further questioning.

Rating *

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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.