Friday, February 3, 2012

Martin's Place

BRYAN: Martin's Place
3403 S College Ave

Bryan, TX 77801


Open Tues 10:30-4, W-Thurs 10:30-7:30, F 10:30-8, Sat 11-6

Update: This trip to Martin's was a bit disappointing. Pitmaster Steve Kapchinskie eschews adding any seasoning to his briskets or thick slabs of pork ribs. Seasoning meat with only smoke and time has a timeless sensibility, but a little salt would have gone a long way on this plate of barbecue.

A thick black crust encircled the slices of brisket, so I was expecting a big punch of smoke. The smokiness was fleeting as was the moisture in these dry slices. They lacked a whole lot of any flavor. Ribs were even drier, so a few swigs from a cold Lone Star bottle were in order. There was a bit more smoke on these ribs, but a punch of slat or pepper or...anything would have helped. A bright spot was the sliced pork shoulder. Ribbons of nicely rendered fat made for a moist cut with plenty of smoke and loads of clean pork flavor. The pork along with a side of the ultra crispy onions rings would have made for a great lunch. As much as it pains me (this place is just so cool), stars are not gained by having great onion rings.

Rating ***

2010: Steve Kapchinskie is a third generation pitmaster who runs the pits and the business as this historic location. The historic part isn't self-proclaimed, but they've been recognized with a historical marker commemorating the business which had been running since 1924, and the brick building that was built in 1939. Steve's been the sole owner since 1980 when his father Albin passed, and he has changed very little.

A semi-circular low bar dominates the dining room, and we took up three of the short rickety stools to peruse the menu. We quickly settled on lean and fatty brisket, pork ribs and sausage as they were all available by the quarter pound.

While the sausage was standard grocery store fare, the level of smokiness was intense and gave the links a pleasing depth of flavor. Ribs had a great bark, and the meat was perfectly cooked. They had a great flavor, and the bones were clean at the end of the meal. Slices of brisket were confounding. Both lean and fatty slices were smoked to perfection, and had a great texture. While the bark was well formed, and there was plenty of smokiness, there was something missing from the flavor of the meat. Maybe it just needed some salt and pepper, but it definitely needed an extra boost.

After the meal, I got a guided tour of the pit area from Steve. The old brick pits were full of briskets, and there were others resting on the counter just waiting for Steve's knife to hack off a few slices. The room was full of smoke, and I'm not sure how Steve spends so much time back there, but it's all to our benefit. You won't find any gas fired contraptions here, and the meats all show it.

Martin's Place on Urbanspoon


Anonymous said...

Ate at this place a handful of times during college. Sometimes I think I wanted it to be good more than it was actually good. The place has so much history.

Some days they are on, and some days they are not. Still second to Fargo's for B/CS BBQ in my mind.

David W. Parker said...

Best BBQ Anywhere in Any State. Melt in your mouth, mouth watering, just plan AWESOME.
Now that I live in Phoenix Arizona I sure MISS Martins.


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.