I scored Texas Bar-B-Que House a 71 out of 100. This is Bum Steer BBQ.
Smoke: Mesquite and Hickory. An ancient Oyler is beneath the smoke stack. Owner says its the "original" and dates back to 1946. She claims she has the "papers". I think she was implying this was the original in Houston. Not sure exactly what she has. She may be mistaken about the date. The patent for Oyler was filed in 1968. The first pits were named Lean-To Smokehouse Ovens and built by the inventor Herbert J Oyler. Mr Oyler died in 1973. Since she has "papers" one can assumed this was a purchased item. She may have an original Lean-To Smokehouse built by Herbert J Oyler and that would be very very cool.
Brisket: Fair. An 1/8 in smoke ring beneath a thin bark. Overcooked and crumbled under the fork. Could not detect a rub, the only flavors were beef and smoke. Very dry. Use the sauce.
Ribs: Good. Served one spare rib cut into two halves. Nice pink smoke ring beneath a bronze bark. Bite required some tearing and ate tough of tender. There was a fabulous black pepper seasoning. Great smoke and great flavor. No sauce needed. Best item on the plate.
Sausage: Fair. You cant really taste filler but you can recognized its texture. This sausage had a lot of filler. It had mild spice flavor and very little after taste. Smoke was very mild also. Use the sauce.
Sauce: Very Good. A thick tangy sweet dark red sauce that can cover up some bland meats.
I scored The Granary 'Cue & Brew a 95 out of 100. This is Grand Champion Texas BBQ. Oh yeah, they made Texas Monthly top 50 for 2013 like that even matters.
Smoke: Oak. Big stacks of oak in front of the wood fired Olyer pit are on proud display on the side of a quaint 1900's house. The house belong to a German family who worked at the Pearl Brewery. That's cool. According to the chef they use smoke as a perfume. Cute, the foodies will love you. I can see how the Olyer is the tool of choice for these modernist pit masters.
|The red stuff is Pastrami!|
Brisket: Excellent. I have been suffering for weeks searching for a slice this good! A 1/16 in smoke ring beneath well seasoned black bark. A near perfect score on tenderness. Every bite moist, silky and pull apart tender. No knife needed. The smoke, oh my the smoke. Every bite of meat, bark or fat was under its spell. I could smell it on my fingertips hours later and just smiled (the wife thought it was creepy). The whole slice ate like a tender juicy burnt end. No sauce needed at all. It was almost the perfect slice but for the 1/16 inch smoke ring?! Come on....gassers produce a bigger smoke ring.
Ribs: Excellent. I have not been wowed by a pork rib in weeks until now. These cute little St Luis or baby backs were like meat candy. Near perfect tender with soft bite and clean bone underneath a reddish bronze color. They looked as good as they ate. You could taste all the smoke, seasoning, and porkyness flavors. They had a subtle sweetness. One bite and you can't put them down. No sauce needed.
Sausage: Very Good and Unique. Are they grinding up filet mignon to make beef sausage? Seriously, this beef was as succulent and luxurious as a fine steak. A large course ground loose beef link with bold traditional spice and mild after taste. The smoke was mild. The casing was kinda tough but after first bite you get over it. I love the pink center. They should ask you at what temp do you want your sausage served. I like medium rare please. No sauce or steak sauce needed. Warning: you will need a napkin.
|Yellow smear is mustard for Pastrami!|
Sauce: Excellent. A dark brown semi thick very tangy sauce. Its strong apple cider vinegar flavor made it a stand out. It has an over powering effect so use it sparingly. Nothing here needs sauce but its fun to dip a bite or two.
PASTRAMI!!: Grand Slam Home Run. If you are lucky enough to be in San Antonio for lunch on a Friday, there is no other choice than The Granary. This blows away all deli pastrami. Don't decide between brisket or pastrami, just get them both. A bright cherry red center from top to bottom from the brine process beneath a well seasoned black bark. Just as tender as the brisket. Just as smokey as the brisket. And it tastes like barbecue pastrami! How come nobody in Texas thought of this before?
|The Pearl Connection|
I scored Waller County Line BBQ a 67 out of 100. This is Bum Steer BBQ.
|What are they used for?|
Smoke: Oak. Under the banner "The Pit Crew" is a fenced off area with big black steel pits. Large stack of Oak wood. The billowing blue smoke leaves no doubt this is wood fired something.
|No smoke ring, nada!|
Brisket: Poor. No smoke ring. No bark. My first thought was "Did they cut it off?" Closer examination revealed it was never there to begin with. Pre-sliced big hunks of brown beef. It look like roast beef and ate like roast beef. Are the pits for show? Overcooked way past tender, it dried up and crumbled on my plate all by itself. One of the worst excuses for Texas Brisket I have ever had. Drown the plate in sauce. They should refuse any requests for sauce on the side. They should only sell chopped beef. Hell they should just take brisket off the menu.
Ribs: Fair. A thin spare rib with zero smoke ring. There was a paper thin bark and grey pork beneath. I had to wait a little in line as they did not have any ribs ready to serve. First bite was cold! Yep, these are re-heated left over ribs! You have to try to be this bad. They were overcooked past tender and dry. They had a rubbery texture from spending the night in the frig. Little flavor except pork. Little smoke again begs the question "What is inside those pits!?". Use the sauce and demand your ribs are re-heated fully.
Sausage: Very Good. A course ground mostly beef link. Great traditional spice with mild after taste. A great smokey dark casing (Oh! the pits are for the sausage, I get it now). No sauce needed. Get the one meat plate and save some money.
Sauce: Very Good. I guess Waller is too close to Houston because they follow the Houston formula: Great Sauce + average BBQ = Houston BBQ. They serve two sauces, one mild and one spicy. They are equally great. The mild is a thick tangy sweet ketchup based sauce that could make liver taste great. It coats the meats well and hides how bad the BBQ is here. The spicy sauce has a little heat and its a little thinner than the mild. Use either one generously and drown the whole plate.