Saturday, April 7, 2012
LOS FRESNOS: Wild Blue BBQ
31230 State Highway 100
Los Fresnos, TX 78566
Open Sat 11-8, Sun 11-5
Update: This joint CLOSED permanently on May 12, 2012.
2012: 'Which blog do you run?' was owner Abraham Avila's question when I walked in with my photographer not so distantly following me. Having been spotted, I fessed up. Mr. Avila noted his recognition of the FCGBBQ name and proceeded to construct the "Tour for Two". It's piled high with five meats and four sides. We needed dessert too.
The brisket was a lesson in anonymity in the BBQ world. I don't hide my face and there are plenty of pictures of my mug on this site and others. That sometimes (believe me, it's rare) results in being recognized, but the great thing about BBQ is they have to serve what they've got. You may be able to re-fire that ribeye or filet of sole for a critic in a normal fine dining situation, but a brisket leaves the pitmaster completely vulnerable. If it's not already good when I walk in, there's nothing that can be done to make it so by the time I get a plate full. That would take another fourteen hours or so. There are certainly choice cuts that can be had from a large brisket of which any customer has a shot at getting. On this visit, I certainly got some of those choice cuts along with a big helping of that vulnerability. Even the best cuts from the marbled point were chewy with little smoke and plenty of opaque fat running through them. A line of thick and undercooked fat marred the dry slices from the flat. The brisket just can't be recommended from this visit. Luckily the ribs made up for it. Smoky baby backs with a nice sweet glaze were tender and moist. The seasoning was a bit heavy and smacked of a chef's need for thirteen different herbs and spices, but the rib was good overall.
Dark meat chicken was pleasantly moist and well seasoned - a counterpoint to the dry breast. The skin on both was flaccid. A cylinder of pulled pork had great smoke and good flavor, but was dry from having been pulled long ago. Links of peppery sausage had good smoke and a nice snap. Most all of it paled in comparison to the sides and desserts.
Abraham Avila was trained and worked as a chef before opening this joint. The hours have been compressed to weekends only so he can focus on his next venture in fine dining - an in progress place called Papillon. The training shows in his insistence on sauteing to order some of the finest green beans I've had anywhere. You can also get a good version of macaroni and cheese and some spongy and savory corn bread along with it. Do not leave before you have dessert. The banana pudding was some of the finest I've had anywhere with just ripe bananas, a mix of soggy and crisp wafers and a bit of toasted coconut to send it over the edge. How could it be topped? By the finest dessert I've had at any barbecue joint. The sweet potato cobbler was a lesson in restraint and simplicity. I've had yams as a Thanksgiving side dish that were far sweeter, and that is the genius. Just enough sugar is added to coax the natural sweetness out of the fluffy and smooth whipped sweet potato filling. There's no guessing the base root being used here, and the subtle spices aren't there to overwhelm either. A sweet crumb mixture added textural contrast and buttery sweet bursts. It was so heavenly, it almost made me forget about that brisket. Almost.
Given the remote location , you'd have to drive out of your way from just about anywhere to visit, and it's worth a visit. Get some ribs and sausage, a side of green beans, and save room for dessert.
Posted by BBQ Snob at 7:47 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