Tag Archives: barbecue

Barbecue: Seven Stops in Kansas City

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Nicholas and I have just wrapped up our barbecue tour of Kansas City. Between arriving Sunday evening and Wednesday, we hit the following seven places in this order: Fiorella’s Jack Stack Barbecue (Freight House location), Arthur Bryant’s, Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que, Danny Edwards BBQ, Q39, L.C.’s Bar-B-Q, B.B.’s Lawnside Blues & BBQ.

The Short Version
Before I get into the details, some of you might just want to know the answer to the following question: If I only have time to hit one place in Kansas City, what should it be? That’s an easy answer. Joe’s Kansas City. Some people might say it’s touristy or mainstream, but these are the sort of people who start hating a band simply because it becomes popular. Joe’s is popular for a reason. It’s got perhaps the best ribs I’ve ever eaten, the pulled pork was delicious and the beans weren’t sickly sweet like they were at a lot of places.

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Memphis to Kansas

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Payne’s Bar-B-Q, Memphis

I’m writing this from Kansas City, Mo.

My son Nicholas and I are celebrating his graduation from high school with a barbecue tour. Three years ago for his birthday, we did the Austin area. I wrote about that in fairly exhaustive detail shortly after the trip. Short version: Blacks, Stiles Switch, Franklin (where he fainted), Louie Mueller, and Salt Lick. (I’ve sense been back to Austin and tried Lambert’s, Freedmen’s and Iron Works.)

Last year, for his birthday, we went to Memphis. I didn’t write about that. It wasn’t because I prefer Texas cue to Memphis cue, though I do. It wasn’t because we didn’t have a good time or didn’t have interesting stories. We did. I just had a circus going on at work last year and the thought of looking at a computer during my off hours was more than I could stand.

But long story short, between Graceland and the Civil Rights Museum and one non-barbecue detour to Gus’s Fried Chicken, we hit Tom’s Bar-B-Q and Deli, Central BBQ, A&R Bar-B-Cue, Germantown Commissary, Payne’s and Rendezvous. We went to Cozy Corner, but it was closed because someone broke into the place the night before and stole all of the meat. Sad!

Anyway, I just wanted to mention Memphis in hopes that it’ll prompt me to write up the current trip. We made the 11-hour drive from Opelousas, Louisiana today and walked over to Fiorella’s Jack Stack and availed ourself of burnt ends, ribs, sliced beef, sliced pork and some of the sweetest baked beans you’ll ever eat.

From Zero to 270 (Smoker): Trial Run

In the course of getting married, Cara brought up the subject of wedding gifts for each other. I’m sure most men out there could spend a good half an hour ranting about this need women have to exchange gifts for every occasion, and often multiple times for the same occasion. This can get particularly crazy when the Wedding Industrial Complex is involved. Many a man might even think of saying, “Isn’t getting married to me gift enough?”

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A Most Frustrating Brooklyn Barbecue: A Tale

The Command Center

The Command Center

 

It was time again for me to host the annual company barbecue. That meant 30 or more people coming over to the apartment in Brooklyn. That meant pounds and pound of meat. It meant bags and bags of charcoal. It meant hours and hours of work.

All of which is to say I was excited! And agitated. And nervous. A lot could go wrong, starting with the annual prediction of 60% chance of rain. I have a back yard just big enough for 30-some-odd people. I have an apartment that is smaller than the back yard. So, you do the math. But the chance of rain diminished throughout the week until the weather on the day of the actual event looked like it was supposed to be sunshine and lollipops. The day of cooking, on the other hand, looked to be a steady fall of rain.

Oh, yes. This is a two-day cooking affair. Three days if you include shopping. But it was all under control. I’ve done this before. Even if I haven’t mastered my brisket (shut up) just yet, I have the process down to a science.

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Hometown Barbecue Is Good Eats, but …

Perhaps I’m getting old, lazy, spoiled or all three, but my first impression upon walking into Hometown Barbecue in Red Hook was, “Not this bullshit seating situation.”

I know some places in Texas do it. I know Mighty Quinn’s in Manhattan does it. That doesn’t make it okay. And what is it? First you stand in line for 30 minutes or so to get your meat — which I’m perfectly fine with — but then you face the possibility of standing there with a tray of meat hoping someone vacates a table. Not quite as bad as Mighty Quinn’s, but it immediately adds a level of stress to the experience. Or, as one of our party said, after watching people snake tables or sit there for entirely too long, “It makes me think people are dicks. I don’t want to go to a place that makes me think people are dicks.”

I was also a little stressed by the fact that a few people who know from food absolutely raved about this place. I was hoping they were right, that I wouldn’t have to completely re-engineer my opinion of their opinions. As it is, I’m never taking Pete Wells seriously on the subject of barbecue again after I finally ate at Fletchers, which was some of the worst barbecue I’ve had in the city.

Thankfully, my friends aren’t crazy people with deluded taste buds as the product at Hometown is solid. Well, the meat on MY plate was good. All four of us ordered brisket and it wasn’t exactly consistent — some of it moist and delicious, some of it dry and chalky. Brisket, of course, is tough to get right. The pulled pork was excellent. The pork belly was good. The spare ribs were … they were out of spare ribs. Which is fine. This happens at barbecue places. The jerk baby-back ribs, on the other hand, had a nice flavor but also seemed like they’d been drying out in an oven somewhere.

The sauces, which I don’t usually go for, were excellent.

There is no wait service in the traditional sense, but we were definitely taken care of while waiting in line, with a bartender taking drink orders and checking on us from time to time. Nice vibe in the backroom thanks to live country music.

I’d definitely recommend giving it a shot, especially if you happen to be in the neighborhood. It’s better than Dinosaur, Wildwood, Blue Smoke — and I’d probably rank it above Mighty Quinn’s. But if I’m being honest, with Morgan’s a couple blocks from my apartment and a Hill Country in downtown Brooklyn, I’m not sure I’d make a special trip out to Red Hook. Like those other two, it’s a great neighborhood barbecue place — but because of it’s location, it’s a pain in the ass to get to (which, I know, is one of Red Hook’s charms), and I am a lazy person who isn’t a fan of taking two slow buses to get to a place. Of course, you can take a car — it was $11 from Park Slope — which isn’t horrible and the ride was fairly quick.

Meat: Fair to excellent.
Service: Good.
Ambiance: Felt like a barbecue joint, but seating situation may stress you out.

That’s my two cents — and I’ll throw in a couple of smoky barbecue burps.

 

Morgan’s Barbecue: Bark Has Bite

Since hearing that Morgan’s had opened on Flatbush and St. Mark’s in Brooklyn, I’d been itching to go. Word on the street (by which I mean one of the managers of Dinosaur: Brooklyn I’d bugged one afternoon) was that one of the guys involved worked at Franklin BBQ in Austin. A couple of news pieces about Morgan’s backed that up.

So, last night, instead of going some place fancy for my birthday, I took a chance and had Cara take me to unproven ‘cue place. We all know how badly that can end in New York.

But I’m happy to report that Morgan’s met and exceeded expectations. It’s a sit-down place–which I’m fine with in New York, because I’d rather not get stuck with a tray of meat and nowhere to sit (Mighty Quinn’s). And the menu isn’t very big–again, this is a good thing.

We ordered brisket, ribs and pulled pork. All three–yes, even the pulled pork–showed that Morgan’s is, at heart, Texas barbecue. The ribs and the brisket had been rubbed down with ample salt and black pepper and had a great bark. This actually might be the spiciest brisket I’ve had in New York. Unlike the ribs at Hill Country, which are large and a little on the tough side for my liking, these were small (baby backs?) and extremely tender. Almost too tender for your barbecue sticklers. The brisket was excellent and, well, what do reviewers say about brisket? It was beefy? I don’t know. It was good. The pulled pork was surprising in that, unlike a lot of places around here, it wasn’t drenched in sauce or overly mushy. It had a strong garlic flavor, too, which I liked.

For sides, we had a loaded baked potato, which was good. And mac and cheese, which wasn’t cheesy enough.

Morgan’s has a solid bourbon and rye selection and the Shiner Bock was served at the perfect temperature.

I recommend it. And yall know how I am about barbecue.

The Great Brisket Experiment: 2013

If there’s one thing I like almost as much as stuffing my face full of smoked brisket, it’s barbecuing it myself.

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Okay, that is a lie. Barbecuing brisket — and pork shoulder for that matter — is one of those things I really, really look forward to doing. And I maintain the kid-on-Christmas-morning glee until one of the following

  • The shopping trip turns into a shit-show of an obstacle course
  • The weather decides not to cooperate
  • Five hours into the proceeding and I’m just trying to stay awake
  • When the food is served and everybody’s all, “THIS IS AWESOME” and I’m thinking “This is shit. It’s crap. It doesn’t taste like Black’s or Franklin’s or Hill Country or Brisketlab. AND OH MY GOD, DID YOU JUST PUT SAUCE ON THAT?!?!”

But this last barbecue? It was going to be different. Because I’d learned something while in Texas with Nick on our Fabulous Brisket Tour. And it was game-changing.

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