Backyard Smokehouse

1/30/14 11:41am - This is an American fare restaurant that also serves BBQ.  The previous tenant was a restaurant that served steaks and barbecue.  The kitchen may have come equipped with a gas fired commercial smoker for the new tenant.  So why not add barbecue to the menu along with 58 other items?  The owner has chosen image over substance.  The restaurant is clearly not presented as a traditional BBQ joint but it does borrow the image of one.  The menu section for BBQ is labeled "From the Pit".  The entrees are individually named with predetermined meat choices.  For example you cannot order a 3 meat plate, but you can order an overprice entree called "The Defender".  Image over substance.

I scored Backyard Smokehouse a 65 out of 100.  This is Bum Steer BBQ.


Smoke:  Pecan/cherry.  Not a stick in site is a bad sign.  There is no smoke stack.  I did see an exhaust vent typically used for gas ovens.  No wood fired BBQ here.  No doubt, its a gasser.  There is a trailer mounted steel barrel smoker taking up valuable parking space.  No licence plate and a 1/8in of dust inside, so its obviously for show.  Image over substance. 

Brisket:  Good.  Smoke Ring nearly invisible but I measured it at 1/16in  Tested tough of tender.  Had a nice rub.  Mild smoke.  Use a knife and use the sauce.

Ribs: Poor.  Baby back ribs served "wet".  They were chewy tough and cooked too fast.  A salt bomb rub beneath a pasty dried out sauce.  Smoke or burnt, I couldn't tell.  Use the sauce or skip all together.

Sausage:  Good.  A course ground pork 6in link with bold traditional spice and strong pepper aftertaste.  Its split and thrown on the grill.  I liked the grill marks but it dried out the link.  It had mild smoke flavor.  Best item on the plate.  Use the sauce.

Sauce:  Good.  A commercial grade purchased sauce with restaurant label.  Kansas City style sweet and tangy.  Ketchup based with brown sugar and vinegar.  There is no attempt to hide this purchased product.  Image over substance.  Use it on everything.

You cannot be half hearted when it comes to Texas Barbecue. Even with a commercial gas oven some skill and TLC is still required.  This concept could not exist without a gas fired commercial smoker.  Another reason to hate gasser BBQ.
Backyard Smokehouse on Urbanspoon

Big 6 Bar B Que

1/22/14 11:45am - I was eager to discover some great Food Trailer 'que based on some high rated hipster reviews, but found that Big 6 is more like a Medium 3.

I scored Big 6 B Que a 79 out 100.  This is Regional Texas BBQ.

Smoke:  Pecan. There is supposedly wood fired pit inside the trailer.  I was refused to snap a picture of the pit from the inside.  There are 2 smoke stacks protruding from the top and a fire box that is loaded from the outside.  A container of pecan next to the trailer. All you can see from the widow is a frame and wood door like a closet.  There is not a lot of room for a wood fired pit but I'll take their word for it.

Brisket:  Fair.  An 1/5in purple smoke ring and paper thin bark.  Tested Dry of Tender and was close to being overcooked.  Descent smoke flavor but not much else.  Use the sauce.

Ribs:  Good. Once again slightly overcooked and on the dry side of tender.  Overall flavor was salty pork and smokey pecan.  It had a rub but the seasoning was long gone.  Use the sauce.

Sausage: Excellent.  I have had several samples of what I presume is East Texas style spicy sausage and I love it every time.  A course ground pork sausage with bold traditional spice and hint of cayenne pepper for a little heat.  No sauce needed at all.

Sauce:  Excellent.  A Kansas City style dark sweet thick sauce.  It was sweet, tangy and smokey.  Molasses and brown sugar flavors.  So good you could spoon it for dessert.  A good thing because this place needs a great sauce.

Big 6 Bar B Que on Urbanspoon

Kreuz Market

1/4/14 1:20pm & 9/6/13 12:16pm - This was my second trip back to Kreuz (pronounced "krites").  I scored it last time but did not publish.  On my way back from hunting, I made it a point to swing through Lockhart and score it for the second time.  I wanted two scores to back up my review of this hall of fame Texas BBQ.   They have been serving barbecue since 1900.  Kruez has made Texas Monthly Top 3 in 1997 (now Smitty's because the Sista's rent was "too damn high"), Top 5 in 2003, and Top 5 in 2008.  However, in 2013 Kruez slip to Top 50 status.  My first impression upon return:  Somebody noticed they did not get top billing in 2013 Texas Monthly!

My score of Kreuz is a 96 out 100.  The is Grand Champion Texas BBQ at its finest.  My previous score was 91.  Upon my second trip, I immediately noticed the improvement in quality.  With my scoring system, there is now a measurable improvement.  If TM sampled my September visit, I get the top 50 status.  If TM sampled my January visit, Kruez is back on top ( calling Daniel Vaughn...calling Daniel Vaughn...).

Smoke:  Seasoned Post Oak.  Kruez ages their post oak for two years.  Iconic brick pits that have graced the pages of magazines, books and blogs for years.  I was lucky to place my order with Roy Perez, a Texas legend pitmaster sporting some impressive muttonchops that would make Elvis jealous.   Enjoy a moment and take in the massive smoke crypts, the orange fire glow and blue smoke floating in the air.  Then clutch your brown butcher paper wrapped booty to the nearest table for a religious experience.

Brisket:  Super Excellent.  A very impressive 5/16in smoke ring beneath a beautiful thick black bark.  A huge 1/2in slice was pull apart silky tender and every bite was moist.  Salt & Pepper rub gave huge flavor boost.  Smoke infusion throughout and the smokey render fatty parts made you dizzy.  Slices like this haunt you.  No sauce needed.  No fork needed.  Good thing because you can't find either at Kruez.  No kidding (see owner's face).  This slice improved from Excellent to Super Excellent.

After eating at Kruez and a handful of other legendary joints, I have concluded I need a new ranking for brisket.  Briskets that score 39 or better are at a whole other level and must be separated from merely Excellent (36.75 or better).  These briskets demonstrate what I call "Maximum Tenderness".  This is where the fat is rendered to perfection, collagens have melted to luxurious silkiness, and maximum moisture has been retained.  The result is a slice that you can pull apart with your fingers, its silky in texture, and remains moist and never drys out:  Maximum Tenderness.

Ribs: Excellent.  A medium sized spare rib with near perfect tenderness, with soft rosy bite beneath crust.  Little tearing and clean bone.  Silky and moist in every bite.  Smoke is blended throughout the salty pork rib. Flavor is enhanced by the salt & pepper rub.  No sauce needed.  These ribs improved from Good to Excellent (quite a jump!).

Sausage:  Excellent.  A typical Central Texas style beef ring link.  I did not grow up eating these rings, so I approach each link with a little a trepidation.  If done wrong these rings can taste like mushy beef.  Kreuz does it right.  A tight packed fine ground beef link (15% pork) inside a snappy casing.  Good garlic and beef flavor with a strong peppery after taste.  Very fresh, juicy and smokey.  No sauce needed.

Sauce: N/A.  They do not serve sauce at Kruez and never will.  There was a time long ago before air conditioning and the first oil boom when there was no sauce served in Texas.  There was a time long ago when there was a debate about sauce vs Texas BBQ.  That was a long time ago and sauce won.  Its here to stay and part of the score.  Out of respect to Kreuz and tradition I awarded them a score slightly below the average all others.  This way I did not punish them with a zero and kept their score comparable to everyone else that serves sauce.
Kreuz Market on Urbanspoon