Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Review of Waller County Line BBQ (Waller, TX)  

WCL BBQ's Website, Facebook, & Yelp

On my way to Pearland for New Year’s I decided to stop for lunch. I quickly realized I had a choice: Waller County Line or Field Store BBQ. Both of these are located in/attached to gas stations on 290 in Waller County, TX. I decided I would take Waller County first, and grab Field Store on the way back.
Waller County Line BBQ is set up line style. Order your plate, pick it up, and pay at the register (same place you pay for gas). 
(Scott's comment: Do you want your brisket moist, lean, or premium unleaded?)
They offer a decent selection. I order a three meat plate (brisket, sausage, chicken), and get a pork rib in addition.

Sausage: I ordered original sausage. It has a good snap, is nice and juicy, and has a decent smoky flavor. This is good stuff. 8.0/10. I also noted that they sell boudin, and (if I recall correctly), you can buy uncooked sausage to go.
Note: You are now going to see some *. Don’t worry, I’ll explain in a bit.

Chicken: The chicken is tender and moist. There’s an interesting tomato flavor to it, but it doesn’t taste like BBQ sauce. I also don’t taste any smoke. It’s decent, but something is missing and not quite sitting right with me. 6.0/10. *

Pork Rib: The pork rib has the same flavor as the chicken. I’m starting to think they are using a wet rub of some kind early in the process. It’s not a bad flavor. Unfortunately, I’m still not tasting any smoke at all. Even more unfortunately, this rib is so tough I’m having to cut it with my knife. 3.0/10.

Brisket: Waller CL BBQ offers brisket and “Smoked” brisket (which is apparently their version of fatty or moist brisket). I ordered the smoked.  It’s hard to tell how it would taste on it’s own, because it came pre-chopped. And yes, that picture is brisket, not pork. Again, I taste no smoke, and that tomato flavor is back. And if I close my eyes I’m flashing back to elementary school for some reason. Again, it’s not a bad flavor, but something is definitely missing. 5.0/10 *

*About the time I finished the brisket, I figured out what this flavor reminded me of: the Italian flavored Manwich that we used to make sloppy joes out of when I was a kid (do they still make that stuff?). And the more I think about it, that was the issue with the chicken, the brisket, and would have been the case with the rib if it hadn’t been so badly prepared. I feel like I’m eating Italian food, not BBQ.
(Scott's comment:  A severely bastardized version of Italian food. My dead Italian grandmother is probably rolling in her grave as I write this.)  

So how do I rate Waller County Line BBQ? This is always a tricky situation. With the exception of the rib, everything was actually pretty good. However, it didn’t taste like BBQ. The chicken only needed a little pasta to be a perfect Italian dish, and all I needed was some bread and the brisket would have made an excellent sloppy joe. But there was nothing in any of those three items that made me think I was eating smoked meat.  

So the scores above are based on their rating as BBQ. It’s like ordering cheese cake and being brought carrot cake. The carrot cake may be a perfectly acceptable dish, but if you really wanted cheesecake then the carrot cake is going to be lacking. 
(Al's comment: I had the experience recently of getting Heinz BBQ sauce to go with some smoked flank steak at a buffet. It was basically Heinz ketchup with paprika mixed in - terrible!  So maybe it's harsh of me to say somebody is using Heinz BBQ sauce in their cooking.) 

Is it worth a visit? I’d say yes. The sausage is definitely worth trying. And the other items certainly taste fine for what they are.  

Is it worth a trip? Nope.  

Decision time: Since Waller County Line and Field Store BBQ are one exit down from each other, which should you choose? You should choose Waller County Line if you want overall better tasting food and aren’t as worried about a more “genuine” BBQ experience.  

-Tom & Scott