Monday, October 28, 2013

Schmidt Family Barbecue

I am going to try something new and different with this blog post. This is somewhat a live blog that I did today. I hope it works out okay.
8:38- I woke up. Today is my birthday, so I took the day off. Today is also Meatless Monday and the grand opening of Schmidt Family Barbecue. My worlds were about to collide. I guess I will just have to eat vegetarian tomorrow.
8:45- I got on Twitter, and someone was already in line at Schmidt. I saw that they were going to give the first person in line a free shirt. Kreuz Market and Smitty's Market have joined forces to open a new barbecue restaurant together. Kreuz used to be located where Smitty's is. It was a family business before a falling out that caused them to go their separate ways and have two BBQ joints. Now the Schmidt family has come back together once again bringing over 75 years of experience.
9:07- Screw it, let's go for a run. I did a 10 mile race yesterday, so I should have rested today. I was not going to be first in line, so I had a little bit of time to kill.

10:19- I left the house to head to Bee Caves.
10:57- I finally got to Schmidt Family Barbecue.
10:59- I got in line, and there was about 20 people in front of me.

11:12- I ordered some macaroni and cheese.

11:19- I ordered a slice of moist brisket, two pork spareribs, a ring of sausage, and two slices of turkey.
11:28- I was finally ready to dig in after snapping a few shots. Most of the meats were already cut before I ordered them. I guess they wanted to stay ahead of the crowd. The issue with this is the meats will get cold and also dry out a little bit. In fact, my brisket and turkey were cold when they put on the tray, and the brisket was dried out a bit. All of that aside, the brisket was cut into chunks. It was really good. It had a good crust with a nice smoke ring. I like a pepper heavy rub. The fat was rendered well. The ribs were also peppery. They were tender but not falling off the bone, and they had a good flavor and smoke. I was disappointed in the sausage. It was bland, and I could not taste any smoke. This is surprising given that the sausage that comes from Kreuz and Smitty's is really good. Four dollars for a ring is also steep in my opinion. The sausage was high in fat content and one of the greasiest sausage I have ever had. The grit and casing was ideal though. The turkey was really good. It was juicy and had good flavors. The macaroni and cheese was good. You cannot really mess that up.

11:40- I was finally done eating.
11:45- I finally left. Look at the line when I was leaving. It had wrapped around the restaurant.

11:55- At Starbucks writing this blog post.
First off, they do take credit cards, have forks, and barbecue sauce. Some of this is missing from the other two locations. The sauce is mustard based and different but not bad. There is a lot of potential oozing out of this place. It is currently legit, but once they work out the kinks, the stars could be the limit. Grade: B
Until next time, happy smoking...

Address: 12532 Farm to Market 2244, Bee Cave, TX 78738
Phone: (512) 263-4060

Monday, October 21, 2013

Kerlin BBQ

I am going to address a few things here. At some of the barbecue restaurants, the review is based off of one visit. If I like it, my review reflects that, and I will eventually be back. So some places will only have one shot to impress me. This blog is written for fun and as a hobby. I do not want to go broke or into debt because of my affinity for barbecue. Some of the places I have been to multiple times. I will normally give them the benefit of the doubt based on a prior experience. My reviews might be harsher than others, but it is my real opinion. When you try so many different places, you start setting bars and ranking them as you go.

There was a new barbecue joint in town. Kerlin BBQ was the name. They opened up early September. All of these barbecue trailers popping everywhere should help with the lines at the bigger names. I went there later for lunch to avoid the lunch time crowd just in case. This place reminds me of Micklethwait. They both feel cozy; both nestled off of a busy street with a family feel to it. Kerlin uses pecan wood to smoke their meats. Post oak is a more popular choice around here for smoke and heat.

The menu was pretty straight forward. You have your meat, sides, sandwiches, and sides. I did not even look at the side choices. Sometimes I feel like I am on a mission. I just need to slow it down and enjoy the little things. I ordered a little bit of every meat. I did not ask for lean, but the owner, Bill Kerlin, gave me some anyways. Both cuts of brisket were good. They had a good smoke ring with a nice bark. They were both a little dry though, and I wish it was a little saltier. I did enjoy the lean cut so I guess there was a reason why I was given a piece. I also got some pork shoulder which more or less is pulled pork. It was good. It was mixed in with a vinegary barbecue sauce. I have not been blown away with pulled pork from anywhere in Texas which I am okay with. Brisket is king in Texas anyways. The sausage and pork ribs were the winners here. The pork rib could have been even better if it was not a little dry. It was tender and smoky. The rib had a nice glaze on it with great flavors. The sausage was excellent. It could be one of my favorite sausages. It had everything going for it- pop, grit, fat content, and flavor. It was meaty and rich. I could probably one of these at every meal.

Austin is full of excellent barbecue. There are a lot of places now that you can grab a very good barbecue lunch without a long line. I think Lockhart should lose the title of the "Barbecue Capital of Texas" at this point to Austin. Kerlin is really good and a solid choice. If you put this place in any other city, it could be a major player. There was no line, but it might be because it was past lunch time and being new and unfamiliar. I will be definitely back but probably a little bit earlier in the day. Grade: B+

Until next time, happy smoking...

Address: 1700 E Cesar Chavez St, Austin, TX 78702
Phone: (512) 412-5588

Monday, October 14, 2013

Milt's Pit BBQ

I am starting to wonder if you guys really trust my reviews. What does a skinny Asian know about barbecue? A wise man once said, "Never to trust a skinny food critic." Well you should go out and try these places and prove me wrong. We built our house in 2009 in Kyle right before Amber and I got married. We like living in the small quiet town but hate the drive back and forth to Austin. Traffic has gotten worse over the years. Kyle is limited on food choices. It is basically either fast food or Tex-Mex. There are three barbecue joints- Milt's Pit BBQ, Railroad Bar-B-Que, and Dickey's Barbecue Pit (dreading this visit). I feel like a sports columnist writing about the home team with the review of Milt's Pit BBQ. I will try to keep the sports metaphors to a minimum.

Milt's Pit BBQ used to be located on the access road of IH-35 but now has moved to Main St. They open at noon on Sundays which we did not know until we got there. We had to only wait 10 minutes or so. That is what we get for assuming they would be open earlier. When we went inside at noon, we had to wait a little bit while the kitchen staff got ready. So there is this thing called the Q Card. Some barbecue restaurants honor them as a discount card. You either get a percentage off or a free side/dessert. For whatever reason today, they rejected the card although they are listed as one of the affiliates.

Amber ordered a chopped beef sandwich and some green beans. They were out of buns this day which takes away from the sandwich. I ordered a meal fit for an offensive lineman as you can see below. I got moist brisket, pork ribs, and some jalapeño sausage, the hat trick of Texas BBQ. I think I got more brisket than I was supposed to because I only ordered a quarter of a pound. I got a side of macaroni and cheese, but they also gave us some ranch style beans. I always tackle the brisket first wherever I go. Typically it is a good indicator how the rest of the meal will go. The brisket was tender and smoky, but that was about it. It looked dry because they used an electric knife to cut it. There was not a lot of flavor. It reminded me of brisket you would find in phở. The sausage was decent. There was a nice snap to it with a good grit. The pork ribs knocked it out of the park. The ribs were tender and smoky. There was a sweet glaze that gave it a lot of character. I could probably eat a whole rack. The beans were more like barbecue beans than ranch style beans. It was sweet with bits of brisket. Amber did not like it, but I did. The macaroni and cheese was perfect. It was creamy and thick.

I was a little disappointed in this visit because I was hoping the brisket would be a slam dunk. However it was not. It looks like I will have to drive to Lockhart if I want excellent brisket without a wait. One of my favorite things to get at Milt's is the Haystack. It is like Frito pie with chopped beef instead, with bits of smoked sausage. It is a sure touchdown (I will leave out the metaphors next time). I would come back here if I need a quick barbecue fix that is within striking distance of our house. Grade: B-
Until next time, happy smoking...

Address: 208 W Center St, Kyle, TX 78640
Phone: (512) 268-4734

Monday, October 7, 2013

La Barbecue

Updated in 2014

Rain or line? Being able to grab La Barbecue for lunch during the work week has been futile. They are out of certain meats or the line is too long for me to wait every time I have stopped by. It was raining in Austin this day so I knew it would be a good chance for me to get awesome barbecue without a wait. La Barbecue is owned by one of Bobby Mueller's children, LeAnn. Her trailer used to be JMueller BBQ before the following out with her brother, John. If he was still around, Bobby would probably be proud of Wayne, John, and LeAnn in owning some of the best barbecue joints in Texas. Texas Monthly included La Barbecue in the 2013 Top 50 Joints list.

I have had the brisket and pork belly on my previous visits here. This was my first chance to try the trinity of brisket, pork ribs, and sausage together. The brisket was superb as usual. It was tender and delightful. It had a great bark. The only weird thing was the brisket was not as salty as I would like it to be. The ribs were excellent. It was probably one of the best I have had. It was tender and smoky with a nice flavor. The sausage was good, but it did not hit the spot. The casing had a great pop. The grit and fat content was the way I liked it. What did not work for me was the flavor. Something seemed off, and I still cannot pinpoint it. Because of the rain, I did not get a chance to get some free beer. The rain took the experience done a notch but not away from food.

Excuse me for only being able to take one photo. It was pouring, and I was not going to get my DSLR wet. Plus I could not get a good shot of the trailer with my iPhone. I will definitely go back again to enjoy the food without the rain. La Barbecue is one of the top barbecue stops/spots in Austin. I need to try the beef rib next time. Grade: A-

Until next time, happy smoking...

Address: 1906 E. Cesar Chavez St, Austin, Texas 78702
Phone: (512) 605-9696