Sunday, May 6, 2012

Keese's Cafe & Bar-B-Que

MEDINA: Keese's Cafe & Bar-B-Que
13869 State Highway 16 N
Medina, TX 78055
Open M-Tues 7-2, W-Sat 7-8, Sun 8-3

After a cigar flavored link of boudain back at the Hog Pen in Leakey, I needed something to get the creosote flavor out of my mouth. We were hustling back to Bandera to make the check-in time at the cabin awaiting us, but the light was still on at Keese's as we rolled through Medina. I walked in to order and was surprised to find they had all the meats available at this late hour. The service was accommodating and genuine, and she suggested a slice of 'Cedar Bark' pie to go with the meal. It's like a pecan pie filling, but with walnuts and coconut replacing the pecans.

A couple of slices of good and moist brisket needed more seasoning. Other than concentrated flavors at the ends of each slice with nice bits of well rendered fat, the meat was a little flat. It must be said that the brisket showed exemplary texture and moisture for beef that was being served right at closing time. A thick spare rib was very enjoyable. The meat came easily from the bone and had a pleasant chew. The flavor from the smoke worked nicely with the thin sweet glaze. A loaded baked potato salad was very good as were the spicy beans. This was a solid plate of barbecue.

The cedar bark pie was extremely rich with a buttery crust. This was just the kind of sweetness we needed to counter balance all of the protein we'd ingested on this long day of barbecue. While we finished dessert, the owner Keith Keese came out to chat along with Missy our gracious server. He had built the pits himself and they were doing everything with direct heat using live oak wood. He's been cooking barbecue for fifty years and his specialty is cabrito. Sadly, the meat is too expensive for him to carry it regularly at the restaurant. The rest of the meats were plenty good to make up for it, but I'm interested to return at the height of the lunch rush instead of minutes before closing.

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.