First up - The Brisket House, 5757 Woodway
Though it has a Woodway address it actually faces Augusta and is easy to miss or dismiss. It’s a small hole-in-the-wall in a very nice strip center in a very nice part of town. Those are not the usual signs of good barbecue but it was raved about by Katherine Shillcutt in the Press back in 2010 and Daniel Vaughan gave it a very positive review on the TMBBQ blog. It’s on neither of the Texas Monthly lists. Vaughan gave it 4 rating in his review; that would not have been good enough to make the Top 50 - the cut-off was 4.25. I’ve been meaning to go for a long time.
I know the barbecue snobs/fanatics insist you shouldn’t order sides, just meat. I know this because I used to be one. But I’m older if not wiser now, I don’t enjoy pigging out on nothing but animal protein anymore, I like a semblance of a balanced meal. So I always give the sides a try at a new place. Besides, I’ve read that one thing that differentiates the Houston barbecue scene from Central Texas is that places here take sides more seriously.
I ordered fatty brisket, jalapeno sausage, pinto beans and traditional potato salad. There was no problem ordering - only one person in front of me, the counter girl understood what I meant when I asked for fatty brisket. There was a bit of a wait for the food - they were turning out quite a few to-go orders. The food is brought to your table. The girl was at pains to make sure I understood there was sauce in a hot pot on the condiments bar, about 8 feet from where I was sitting. She even offered to bring me a small cup of it but I said no.
The brisket was very satisfactory, just a little lacking in smoke, seasoning and bark but otherwise tender, juicy and flavorful. I was pleasantly surprised. I’d give the brisket an A- or maybe a B+.
The jalapeno sausage, custom produced by a butcher in Bryan, was not great but very good, juicy and with a nice snap. I didn’t get much heat from it nor smokiness. I’d give it a B.
The potato salad was boring. Not an institutional product I think but just pretty basic, and too wet for my tastes. The beans were sad, lacking in seasoning and just a tad underdone. I’d give the PS a C, the beans a D.
I did get up and help myself to some sauce - too sweet and too ketchupy for my taste. It gets a D-.
I will be back. The brisket and sausage were good enough and even if I don’t want to take a chance on any other sides, I can order meat only or what they call their ‘Specials’, a hold-over from the owner’s days at a barbecue joint in Bryan; that’s meat(s) of your choice on butcher paper with a wedge of cheddar cheese, half an onion, a whole pickle and white bread.
This is good enough we should think of recommending it if we ever start getting those tried and true tourist questions here like ‘where can I find good barbecue near the Galleria?’ It’s better than Luling City Market on Richmond.
The website includes links to Shilcutt’s and Vaughan’s articles. The Vaughan article includes some details about the smoker and technique used.
I’ve also been to Roegel’s and Pappa Charlie’s but my visit to Roegel’s I wanted pulled pork so I can’t report on anything but that. I’ll wait until I’ve revisited and can report on the brisket and I know others have already been. My visit to Pappa Charlie’s didn’t go well. I’ll hold off on giving judgment until I’ve been back. I’m also going to try to get up to Southern Q up on Kuykendahl and maybe Jackson St downtown.
Anybody else hopefully?