Thursday, September 18, 2014

Gas Monkey Bar and Grill, Dallas

Sampled 9/18/14 about 8 pm
Had a chance to go see the great LAZY LESTER perform at this joint tonight and lo and behold they offered smoked meats.  Somewhere I remember hearing The Snob had given them a passing grade so I thought I'd check it out while waiting for those great Excello sounds to appear onstage.  I ordered the brisket plate with mac and cheese with french fries and this is what I got.
I told the waitress those were the strangest looking french fries I had ever seen and she informed me that somehow I had gotten the mashed potatoes instead.  She offered to run them back and exchange them but I wasn't really that picky about it so I let them stay.  Right off the bat, when I picked up the brisket for the pull apart test I noticed the brisket was not hot.  Not even luke warm, really.  The brisket was stretchy and failed the pull apart test.  There was a nice salt and pepper rub and light smoke flavor but overall it was a bit chewy.  Not bad brisket, by any means, but the smoke and rub were defeated by the fact it was undercooked and cold.  Fat was poorly rendered and rubbery.  Probably a good thing it had almost all been trimmed away.  The sides were ok and much hotter than the brisket but certainly nothing to make the meal.  If I had a word to describe this meal it would be "meh".

Considering the excellent leftovers that still fill my fridge from Texas Monthly and other stops earlier this week I probably should have eaten at home.  However any place that is cool enough to bring Lazy Lester to town deserves my support and they'll continue to get it.  They will have to book a band I really want to see and next time I may have to try the chicken fried steak.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Terry Black's BBQ, Austin, Texas

sampled 9/14/14
So having just sampled 21 BBQ joints at the Texas Monthly BBQ fest, what do you think happens next?  We stop by another BBQ place, of course.  Again, some of you are not surprised.  The new Terry Black's place is right across the street from the Palmer Center where the TM Fest was going on and we drove right past it on the way into the parking garage.  Right then we decided when we left the fest we would stop by for some "to-go" from this new joint.   Amazingly, with the biggest BBQ fest in Texas happening right across the street, their parking lot was full.  We got the last parking place.

Inside they have a nice set-up with 3 carving blocks going full time.  That speeds along the ordering process quite a bit.  I got 2 pounds of moist brisket, a couple of pork ribs, and a jalapeno cheese ring to go.  Dave got us each an ice cream cone to add to the brisket already in our stomachs and it went down nice.  Best antacid money can buy.  I did not sample any Q there, but when I arrived home we opened it up and the Mrs and I had a sample of brisket.  Excellent brisket with good moisture, tenderness and smoke flavor.  While I was not up to another meal when we were there, I'll give the "to-go" batch a good warm up and plan now to head back there for a meal in place.

On the way out Scott and Dave were peering in the pit enclosure and we were invited back for a look at tomorrow's briskets, already in progress.  Mmmm boy. Looked tasty.

Texas Monthly BBQ Fest 2014

Sampled 9/14/14
Thanks to my buddy Dave in Austin, this was the 4th year we've landed VIP tickets to the biggest Texas BBQ event of the year.  I always seem to be off bass fishing on ticket day so Dave sits there and pounds his enter key hoping to get into the site in time to get us VIP tix for the 5 minutes or so they last.  His luck has been amazing, as he's 4 for 4, so we were off for another Q filled day in Austin.  Scott finally managed to get loose for this one, so this was his first time at the big show. 
As usual I prepared by fasting the day before.  Well, mostly.  On the way down Saturday we made a stop at Miller's in Belton where I grabbed 2 pounds of moist brisket for the cooler.  The devil made me sample some and it was outstanding, as it always is.  That's why we stopped.  After that we detoured east to check out a new place in Bartlett (see post below) and once again I was forced to break my fast to sample some very good BBQ.  Dang it.  We hadn't even made it to Austin yet and I already had 5 lbs of smoked meat in the cooler.  Some of you are not surprised.

Sunday we met up at Dave's place at 10 am and made it down to the festival in record time.  The parking attendants weren't even in place so we got a free spot in the garage.  We ended up 7, 8, and 9 in the VIP line a full hour and a half before opening.  Like last year, they didn't start processing vip packets til around 11 am so we took turns in line while everyone went and got their wristband and packet.
We spent the next hour standing around with our stomachs growling, waiting for the action to commence.  The folks at the front of the VIP line were the same ones that got "promoted" to VIP from the general admission line last year by Daniel.  I thought that was neat.  Next year (if we're lucky to get VIP tix) we may have to follow their lead and bring along a chair for the waiting part.  We visited with Justin Fourton from Pecan Lodge a bit and The Snob also came by to say hello.  The worst part of standing in that line for an hour waiting is smelling the smoke from all the pits wafting around the crowd.  That last 5 minutes seemed to take forever.
While we stood around waiting we discussed various plans of attack and settled on a "diversion and deep strike" method.  We made sure everyone around us knew that Franklin BBQ was at the end of the booths downstairs.  Our plan was to race upstairs while everyone else turned right, get our "sign pictures", then head to the last booths and work our way backwards.  When the gate finally opened, it worked like a charm and everyone turned right.  We walked right up to Killen's, Opie's, and Hatfields, and probably had our first 3 samples done while most of the other VIPs were still standing in line at Franklin's.  Our overall goal was to get down as many samples as we could before the general admission crowd came in at 1 pm.  We managed to finish 21 of the 25 places in attendance before the hordes descended.  The 4 remaining we had sampled many times before so we really didn't see a need to go stand in those ridiculous cues for que.  By 2:30 we were out of there and on our way to our next adventure.  Yes, there was another adventure.

As usual there was a huge variation of what was served in both quality and quantity.  I only sampled 2 joints that were just plain bad.  Most was good to excellent quality BBQ.  As we do every year, we took a bite or two of each sample, bagged the rest for the cooler, and went on to the next samples.  Anything sub par just didn't make it into the bags.  Some places gave you tiny little samples.  Others would load you up.  I swear one place gave me half a pound of meat.  The single best piece of meat I had all day was from Pecan Lodge.  As I was walking up to the booth the server was saying "That piece may kill somebody".  Being a certified BBQ warrior, always in search of death by brisket, I accepted that challenge and did indeed glimpse brisket heaven.  Good Lord it was perfect.  I had some more good brisket at the fest but nothing else even came close to that.
Stiles Switch had a really nice beef rib sample.  Good pork ribs were found at Opie's, Cooper's, and Buzzie's.  I had some great jalapeno sausage at Louie Mueller's (no surprise) and some tasty beefy sausage at Hatfield's.  We actually stopped by Louie Mueller's pit twice to see if they were selling that jalapeno sausage.  They had several bags of it sitting on coolers by the pit.  The first time we stopped by Wayne was in heavy conversation with another BBQ enthusiast.  When I came by later Wayne was gone and the other guys didn't know if they were selling those shrink wrapped packages or not.  Guess I'll just have to visit Taylor.

When the general admission line came in we were sitting near the entrance with lots of meat trying our final samples.  We sat there for 15 minutes watching folks stream past us and there was still a long line when we headed back upstairs to finish off our day.  It looked like they had almost 3000 general admission folks. 

The 4 joints we skipped were Black's, La Barbecue, Snow's, and Franklin.  All we have had multiple times before, and will again.  We did not leave hungry.

Below are a couple of posts of just booth photos and food photos.  As always click on any photo for a larger view.

Photos 1 from Texas Monthly BBQ Fest 2014

sampled 9/14/14


Photos 2 Texas Monthly BBQ Fest 2014

sampled 9/14/14