Sunday, January 31, 2016

Kent Black's BBQ Review (San Marcos, TX)  

Kent Black's BBQ's Website, Facebook, Twitter, & Instagram

Scott and I wanted to make a BBQ trip this weekend. Mom was bacheloring (bacheloretting?) this weekend and decided to join us, so we decided to check out Kent Black’s BBQ in San Marcos, TX.  

KB’s is another offshoot of the Black family. The venue is one of the biggest I’ve seen, with a huge patio, bar, and a large seating area. Mom was really impressed. They have some humorous signs (esp. over the bathroom), and have apparently won best BBQ in San Marcos last year.

Ordering is the usual pay and get at the counter. We debate our purchases. Since we’re going to share, I’ll sum up what we end up trying: brisket (lean and moist), spare ribs, baby-back ribs, a beef rib, turkey, and sausage (original, jalapeno-cheddar, garlic, and beer).
Turkey: The turkey has a light smoke flavor. I find it a touch salty, but Scott likes the rub. Mom seems to find it unremarkable. We all find it a touch chewy/tough depending on our piece.
Scores: Mom – 5.0/10, Scott and Tom – 7.0/10. Avg: 6.33/10

Brisket: Both lean and moist are reasonably tender and moist. In my opinion there’s not much smoke flavor in either type, which is always something I want in brisket. Scott feels his lean has good flavor but the moist less so, which is very interesting as one would expect it to be the other way around. Mom likes the lean and loves the moist.

Lean score: Tom – 6.0/10, Mom – 7.0/10, Scott – 8.0/10. Avg: 7.0/10.

Moist score: Tom – 7.0/10, Scott – 7.5/10, Mom – 9.0/10 (I wasn’t kidding when I said she really liked it). Avg: 7.83/10.


Beef rib: We all agree the flavor of the beef rib is excellent. But this one appears to have been a little overdone. Burnt ends can be good in brisket, but on this rib it results in a tough exterior that’s hard to get through. All of us agree that it is a little on the tough side. Score: All three of us give it 6.0/10. Avg: 6.0/10.

Pork Spare Rib: This was an interesting item. I had asked for two, and at first was wondering if it was overcooked, as it seemed that a large chunk had fallen off the bone (and yes, on BBQ ribs falling off the bone means it is overcooked). However, I realized that they had apparently given me one huge rib with ALL the meat from either side. The bone in the middle was substantially larger than my thumb. Given that, we’re OK. It had a nice crust, and a good flavor. Mom also loved it, but Scott wasn’t quite as big a fan.

 Scores: Scott – 6.75/10, Tom – 8.5/10, Mom – 9.0/10. Avg: 8.08/10.
Baby-Back Ribs: The baby-backs are very tender and have a lot of meat. But unlike the spare ribs we all agree there’s not much going on besides pork in the flavor department. They aren’t bad, but nothing stands out about them. Score: We all agree 6.0/10. Avg: 6.0/10.

Sausage (The following applies to all the sausage we tried): They use a coarse grind for their sausage, with the beer and the jalapeno-cheddar being a little tighter than the other two (but still definitely qualifying as a coarse grind). All the sausage was juicy and tender, and had a good snap to the casing. 
Original Sausage: Has a mild flavor with some nice pepper added. Mom and I like it a lot, Scott not quite as much. Scores: Scott – 6.0/10, Tom – 8.0/10, Mom – 9.0/10. Avg: 7.66/10.  

Garlic Sausage: This one was interesting. Mom and Scott had a bite each of mine. Neither of them really noticed the garlic. Mom still loved the flavor, and Scott was disappointed (although he felt it was well-done). Because I had more of it, I noticed that the garlic creeps up on you. It’s very subtle and slow to develop. I like it, but would want the garlic to be more immediately obvious.

(Scott's comment: This is like having a Blackberry Saison and not tasting blackberry (yes, recent experience). My first reaction was that a vampire could safely have this because I couldn't detect any garlic. )
Scores: Scott – 5, Tom – 8.5/10, Mom – 9.0/10. Avg: 7.5/10.  

Beer Sausage: Unlike the garlic sausage, the beer in this one is noticeable immediately. Scott and I debate what they are using. Scott suggests Shiner and I tend to agree with him. It’s easily the dominant flavor in the sausage, and while it is good, you better like beer if you order this one. Mom doesn’t want to score it as she’s not a beer fan. Scores: Scott – 7.0/10, Tom – 8.0/10. Avg: 7.5/10.

Is it worth a visit? Absolutely. There’s nothing bad here. They have a lot of good BBQ and some good sides (they have smoked cabbage which seems interesting). It seems like a good place to go after a day of tubing.  

Is it worth a trip? This is an interesting question. How do we want to look at this? If you look at average scores, then the answer would have to be no, since only one item scored 8 or higher.  If you break it down by individual scorers, then it also comes down to their quirks. Mom would say it is definitely worth a trip.  

(Mom’s comment: She wants to have her next wedding there. She also said wake, but then realized she wouldn't be able to enjoy it).

Scott appears to be a no based on his scores (he only has one that’s an 8 or higher), and I’m on the fence. Why am I on the fence? Because even though I technically have four 8+ scores, three of them are sausage.

(Scott's Comment: The word that resonated with me is "unspectacular."  It's much like a movie that has a solid cast, good scriptwriter, director, etc., and then the outcome is _____ (Looking at you Prometheus)). 

I think this is a place we’ll need to revisit at some point. I especially want to see if that beef rib was a fluke. Because flavor-wise it was very tasty. 

-Tom & Scott & Mom