Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The Granary 'Cue & Brew (San Antonio, TX)  

The Granary Webpage, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter  

The Granary has been on our list for a while, especially once we’d heard about pastrami beef ribs on Tuesday. So, Scott, James and I headed down to see how it compared to the places in Austin. This certainly qualifies as a trip for us.  
Nestled in the Pearl District,  where the old Pearl Brewery once made beer.  We'll leave the debate of that particular beer's quality for another day.  The area has seen urban revitalization efforts come to fruition, and provide a new area for locals, San Antonio expats (*cough Scott cough*), and tourists alike to visit, just north of downtown (just west of 281, north of 35).  Granary has obviously caught the eye and taste buds of folks who get paid to check out places like this.   
The Granary is counter service with pickup at a window right next door. They also brew their own beer (Scott had their Brown Ale while James and I had their Coffee IPA (Socrates), both of which were excellent). Lunch is sandwiches and plates (although meat can also be ordered ala cart), while the dinner menu is more elaborate (smoked octopus? We must head back one evening!). But we each order three meat plates, and will try most of their meats between us.
Chicken: The chicken was tender and had a slight smoky flavor. Mine as a touch dry in places, but the others didn’t have this complaint. There also didn’t seem to be a lot of flavor other than the smoke. This was probably the most divisive of the items for us. Tom – 6.5/10. Scott – 7.5/10. James – 8.0/10. Avg: 7.33
Pork Ribs: I was the only one trying these. They were juicy but just a tad tough. They had a decent amount of smoke, and were nicely sweet with some black pepper to complement the sweetness. A solid entry. Tom – 8.0/10. 
Brisket: The brisket is very tender and has a nice bark. There’s a heavy smoke flavor complimented by black pepper. It’s good. All three of us score it 8.5/10. 
Regular Sausage: The sausage is tender and juicy. It has a very good flavor, reminiscent of pastrami/corned beef itself (I ask, and someone tells me that the meat is brined before put in the sausage). It’s good. James and Tom – 8.5/10. Scott – 8.25/10. Avg: 8.42
Spicy Sausage: They use cayenne and red pepper instead of jalapeno, which gives a nice bit of heat while not following the normal jalapeno model (this is a plus in my book). It is also well-made, being tender and juicy. James and Tom – 8.5/10. Scott – 9.0/10. Avg: 8.67.  
Pulled pork: The pulled pork is tender and moist without being greasy. It is sweet and smoky, and does not need sauce to be good. Tom – 8.5/10. Scott – 9.0/10.
 Pastrami Beef Rib: I was the only one to try this. I must admit I had some preconceptions. It’s always important to remember that pastrami is a style of preparation and technically NOT a flavor (although there are some common flavors used when making pastrami for deli meat). So, if you order this expecting to taste your normal pastrami sandwich, you’re going to be caught off guard. What you are getting is a beef rib that is VERY tender with a nice smoky flavor and some delicate seasoning. It also looks like it is rare (very red) even though it isn’t. It’s a quality beef rib. Tom – 9.0/10.  
The Granary has put together a quality BBQ place. They have some excellent food, and make some great beer to go with it. Consensus was that we’d probably spend way too much time here if we lived in San Antonio. 
Interestingly, the layout inside seems a little different than a lot of places. They seem broken up into smaller rooms. The section we were in would have sat no more than 20 I would suspect. Definitely a lot quieter than most places. We liked it.  
Is it worth a visit? Definitely.  
Is it worth a trip? Absolutely. It qualified as a trip for us but we certainly considered the time well spent. 

Friday, December 9, 2016

Review of Corkscrew BBQ  (Spring, TX

Corkscrew BBQ Webpage, Facebook, & Twitter 

Heading back from visiting my friend Loni, I detoured into Spring to pick up some Corkscrew BBQ to take to friends in Pearland. Corkscrew had impressed me at the various festivals I had been to, so it was time to see how they did on a more formal visit.  

Corkscrew BBQ is typical counter service BBQ. They offer a wide selection of plates and sandwiches as well as meat by the pound. I’ll be trying moist brisket, sausage, turkey, and pork ribs.  

Turkey: The turkey is very tender and moist. There’s a light smoke flavor. I can taste a hint of some pepper in the rub, but the seasoning is a little light for my taste.  Overall let’s call it 6.5/10. 

Pork Ribs: The ribs are  tender and juicy and have a nice crust. There’s a nice smoke flavor, but like the turkey I’m not tasting much other than smoke and maybe a hint of pepper. I’d like some more flavor here. 6.5/10.

Brisket: The brisket is moist and tender and has a very nice bark. It has a wonderful smoky flavor and there’s some nice pepper working here. This has all the flavor that the previous two didn’t quite live up to. Call it 8.5/10.  

Sausage: I made a tactical error, and forgot to ask what type of sausage they have. Turns out it is a jalapeno sausage, as one of my friends pointed out when I brought it back. Needless to say, this had me suspecting I had an un-scorable item for myself….

Except I don’t. Corkscrew has actually done something I thought was impossible: they’ve made a jalapeno sausage I don’t just like, but love. It’s tender and juicy, with a nice snap in the casing. You get a nice light heat from the jalapeno, but the other flavors mask the taste (which is a plus in my book). This is really good. Call it 8.5/10.   

Corkscrew BBQ is definitely producing some solid BBQ. I’d like to get back and try beef ribs (Saturday only) and their pulled pork.  

Is it worth a visit? Definitely. 

Is it worth a trip? By our standards, not quite yet. Only two scores at an 8 or above (so far). This may be subject to change if/when we try other items. 


Thursday, December 8, 2016

Review of Lost Pines BBQ  (Giddings, TX)  

Corkscrew BBQ Facebook, & Yelp

We’d reviewed City Market in Giddings twice before, and been unimpressed both times. However, since I was heading down to Pearland to visit friends, it seemed like a good time to take a look at one of their other option: Lost Pines BBQ.

Lost Pines is located along 290 in Giddings, and is typical counter service BBQ. They offer the typical 1-3 meat plates as well as meat by the pound. I’ll be trying moist brisket, sausage, turkey, and pork ribs.

Turkey: The turkey is tender, but is a touch dry in some places. There’s a heavy smoke flavor (a plus), but a hint of a metallic after taste (a minus). Overall let’s call it 5.0/10,

Brisket: The brisket is moist and tender. However, it doesn’t have a lot of bark. There’s a touch of heat, but I can’t taste anything that is causing it. In fact, other than the heat it doesn’t have much flavor at all. Again, call it 5.0/10.

Pork Ribs: Reasonably tender and juicy, but not much crust. Yet again, there’s a touch of heat but not much other flavor. 5.0/10.

Sausage: They have an all-beef sausage that has a nice snap in the casing and is reasonably tender. There’s some heat (sounding familiar), but not much other flavor. 5.0/10.

I find Lost Pines very interesting. Usually when you are noticing some heat, you either are tasting something that is causing it (cayenne, jalapeno, etc.), or you can taste other spices that may be masking the source of the heat, but you taste SOMETHING. In the case of three of the four items I tried, there wasn’t really much noticeable flavor at all (even smoke) other than the base taste of the meat and the heat, which saved it from being unacceptable.  

Is it worth a visit? Everything earns a minimal passing grade. It’s an OK place for lunch. 

Is it worth a trip? Nope.