Chris' Bloggin' Topics

14 August, 2009

Salt Lick BBQ, Driftwood, TX

Well, I finally made it to the Salt Lick after my 5th time in Austin. I guess the last few times I was in Austin, it was tough for me to make the trek to Driftwood after working all day. Well, I won't make that mistake again. I can safely say that the Salt Lick is now my new #1 and overtakes Rudy's in San Antonio. While it is not by a landslide by any means; S.L. is the new champ.

I probably should have figured out how good it was by the time I drove up. I was just past 8:30 PM and the place was still teeming with people all over the whole restaurant area. Luckily, I didn't have to wait but a few minutes for a table. Prior to securing my table, I did grab a couple of cell pics of the pit they use. Then, I get a table with Jon. What can I say about Jon? Very cool guy and didn't make me feel at all bad for being a solo-diner hogging up a table that could have accommodated 6. He was very knowledgeable about the menu and just a downright good dude. But more on that later...let's get to the food.

So I got the all-u-can-eat for $18.95. But, I really wanted to try the chicken, so I got it as a side. The AUCE included the brisket, ribs, sausage and then sides of slaw, tater salad and beans. Ya'll have already heard my rant on sides. These were decent but again...nothing I'd make a trip just for that. And I should note that as far as sides go; Rudy's creamed corn is still the #1 in a true landslide. Ok, but we're not talking sides...we're talking BBQ so let me get back to it.

Everything was pretty much awesome. But it is all predicated on the fact that the sauce from the Salt Lick; which is on EVERYTHING is the best sauce on the planet. So its one of those things that if you are crazy enough to NOT like their sauce, you probably won't like much else. The chicken was smoked and then set to the side of the grill to be basted in the glorious sauce and just caramelize and baste again and cook and man...soooo tasty. Basically, it is all that way. The brisket and ribs had the sauce but you always have your little jar with more sauce at the ready. And if you like it spicy, be sure to ask for the Habanero sauce. Don't be scerrred though. Habanero might freak you out but its not that spicy. It has just the right amount of kick without being too overpowering. It is awesome on the chicken and turkey...well, and the ribs and brisket too.

And I have to get back to the brisket and Jon. So I'm polishing off my first plate from the AUCE (again...all-u-can-eat for the memory impaired), and Jon and I get to talking about all things bar b q. After a conversation of all topics he says to me "so it sounds like you like your bbq and brisket, have you ever tried the burnt ends?" Now we have to go back in time to the Austin episode of Man vs. Food on the travel channel. Adam Richman talks about the burnt ends of the brisket and I'm literally salivating over him eating. I pretty much hog the "burnt ends" of everything I cook. And I don't hate myself for doing cuz it is Chef's prerogative on that one. Pork tenderloin, prime rib...doesn't matter...I get the ends. Anyway, back to the brisket. So Jon asks if I would like that and I had to tell him that I wanted to ask immediately when I sat down. But considering there are only limited amounts of the ends due to the limited real estate on the meat...I figured I had to be Mack Brown or Matthew Mcconaughey in order to be granted some of it. But nope, he said if I wanted would be in my next round. So I scarfed down the bits I had left and Jon came back with a plate of the most wonderful thing that is the burnt ends of the brisket. The only thing we could come up with describe it is how it is the best burnt/sweet taste you'll EVER have. It won't make sense until you have it. Because there is absolutely ZERO actual burnt taste to it. It is just the best piece that combines the taste of the meat, the smoke, the rubs and the sauce all in one bite. It is truly amazing stuff.

I can't wait to go back next week!!!

And then another note about just the nicest atmosphere...Jon took me to the open part of the pit behind the counters and all and me and a couple other guys talked about bbq for probably 15-20 minutes. That was really cool and really cool of them to let me, just a regular joe who is nuts about cooking go back there. I saw the wall of oak wood and the soaking pecan shells (interestingly enough, my own shed is stacked with pecan and oak...I guess great minds do think alike). Hopefully, those guys will be there next week for more bbq fun!

04 August, 2009

Ironworks, Austin, TX

So I finally made it to Ironworks. They decided not to close during dinner time for some private party this time around.

For some reason, and I don't know why, I was expecting a fancy type of restaurant with a name like Ironworks. It was actually a corner dive. Not that that is a bad thing but I just wasn't expecting an 'order at the counter' type of place. Of course that ended up working out for me considering I just got my big bag of food to go instead of eating there.

What did I eat? Pretty much a little bit of everything. At least most of the main courses. And it was pretty tasty. This was good bar b q they way I like it. I even had beef ribs which not many places serve. They have good sauce. It is the traditional tangy sauce everyone thinks about.

But to the meats...they were cooked very well. The backs of the ribs didn't have that thin membrane that I hate so much (see Ruby's review). Both the pork baby back ribs and the beef ribs were extremely tender and moist. The beef ribs should be since they are pretty fatty in general. Good smokey flavor that isn't too overpowering. The sauce complemented both very well but next time I will probably order them dry to see what they taste like sans sauce. I wasn't aware that when you order with sauce; it is slathered all over and not put "on the side."

Then came the sausage. It was pretty good. Better than most but still have to put Rudy's (with a D) up in the #1 hole. Then of course, smoked turkey and brisket. Here is where I was disappointed. Both were pretty dry. I even lucked out and got a "burnt end" piece of brisket which I love because it is usually covered in spices. But alas, both were pretty dry and unimpressive. The sauce helped but I would have hoped for more some better quality. I think next time, I'll stick with ribs and try the 1/2 chicken.

Of course that means that I will be going back. The ribs were really good. And I also go back to how I found out about the place to begin with. When I asked the front desk guy, he mentioned that Ironworks is known for the ribs. So chalk this one up for a good recommendation instead of getting hosed by a crappy rec.