Saturday, September 18, 2010

Bull's Eye Barbeque

Bull's Eye Barbeque
1500 Highway 21 West
Caldwell, Texas 77836

GUEST CONTRIBUTOR: Jeff Kramer offers this review for Bull's Eye BBQ. He was the runner-up in the Texas Monthly BBQ Festival ticket giveaway.

A half hour west of Bryan/College Station Highway 21 is Caldwell, a town of about 3500 that's better known for their yearly kolache fest than their BBQ. Pulling into the Bull's Eye parking lot, I notice that my Mazda hatchback is out of place with all the jacked up Dodge Rams and Chevy Silverados. As I step out of the car, the smell of smoke hits me, getting my hopes up for a good meal. Walking in, I realize there's been some changes at Bull's Eye since I had last been there, namely a full service meat market, with some delicious looking thick-cut bacon.

But otherwise, Bull's Eye looks the same as it did a year ago when I was last there, and probably the same since it opened. A few booths with chipped paint on the seats, some tables with red-and-white checkered table clothes and uneven legs. Cattle skulls are mounted on the wall and the metal ceiling is low. The clientele there for lunch included ranch hands, oil field workers, professionals working for the Burleson County government and two motorcycle cops. If you asked someone in New York to describe what they think a Texas BBQ joint looks like, they'd probably describe something pretty close to Bull's Eye.

Getting to the food, Bull's Eye keeps it simple. You can order brisket, ribs, sausage and a rarity in Texas, sliced pork. The meats are sold by the pound, by the sandwich or in a combo plate. Sides are limited to beans, coleslaw or potato salad. I ordered the two meat plate, getting brisket and ribs along with potato salad and coleslaw.

Dan the owner brought my plate out. The ribs are served dry and they looked great, big and meaty with a pink smoke ring and a nice char from the rub on one side. The brisket was thinly sliced and looked to be from the lean end of the brisket. While there was a decent smoke ring, there wasn't much char or rendered fat.

Biting into the ribs, I could taste the smoke, the rub and the rendered fat. The meat was moist and came off the bone without much effort. I should have ordered more. The brisket was a disappointment though. The meat with dry with very little smoke flavor, and since it was sliced so thin, the crust didn't stick to the meat. Not one to let BBQ go to waste, I grabbed a baggie of white bread, added some pickles and sauce and made a sandwich.

The sides and the sauce look to be homemade. The potato salad is mustard based and has dill relish mixed in to give it a unique flavor. The coleslaw is the creamy kind, and might have a little vinegar to give it a little bite. The sauce is tomato based with a thinner consistency that starts out sweet and ends with a tart, probably from vinegar, finish.

Overall, I think I caught Bull's Eye on a bad day for brisket, I've had better there before. The ribs and sides were good, but the brisket dragged an otherwise enjoyable meal down.

Final rating: ***

No comments:


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.