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[Houston] Beaver's


jscarbor
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I went at lunch which is about the only time I will be able to go darn it. At first I was a little wiered out by the name but it seems as though this place is going to try and take BBQ to new hieghts? I really hope its a order at counter place but something tells me its not?

Robert, I see the cocktail is going to be pretty important? It seems like an odd marriage between bbw and cocktail? Obviously you are into it, can you give us your thoughts on why the cocktail will be an asset to Beavers? I am very interested to hear your thoughts. Plus when I do come in I will seek you out for a good drink, I'm pretty much anything but gin really.

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It is not an order at counter place; it has servers who really try to be an asset to the experience. In other words, they strive to be guides and helpful as opposed to people who just bring out food and keep drinks full before collecting on the check.

As far as the cocktail goes, I think that anyone who comes to the bar at Beavers will be very surprised by the quality products on the shelves and the available beer. You can just get stuff here that you can't get anywhere else, and we really make a great drink. The "odd marriage" that you referred to between the cocktail and bbq maybe indeed be strange, but to be honest, I don't know any place that effectively uses cocktails to balance their food anywhere. I could certainly do so if you were so interested at our bar, but in that light, I think it becomes more evident why a good drink would go with our place. Cocktails are viewed (by most) as a casual and celebratory activity, which would indeed go well with the fun atmosphere of Beaver's. The food is great and very high quality, but we still serve it in baskets. We just want everyone to feel comfortable and be able to get a quality product at all levels: food and drink. I really like the idea of upscale cocktail bars and am going to open one in Houston one day, but the opportunity was available at Beavers to work with great products and co-workers, so I feel like doing so in a casual concept works well too. Our bar is great for those who wish to seek this out or stumble upon it when coming in for the food.

Even if the concept of bbq and cocktails doesn't work in your mind, ask this: why not? I mean if a place has great food (in any varietal), why not do everything right and have great drinks as well? This is how I thought about it, and I can make you that drink whenever you are ready.

Robert Heugel

Anvil Bar & Refuge - Houston, TX

http://www.drinkdogma.com

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Im open to it. Does not bother me at all on the drink side.

On the other hand servers at BBQ really can't add(except on the bill) to my experience much but I can look past that for great que. It almost has to have servers though so it should not be awkward.

Beavers looks to be more than great que, it seems to be something that can be a unique and a very nice asset to the cities dining scene. I hope to hit it next week.

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so, maybe i am biased because the chef and sous chef are friends of mine, but this place will be pretty darn good.  i went to the preview party and helped in the kitchen on sunday, and i can tell you this, they are staying true to texas bbq.  they have a huge smoker back there in that little kitchen and the brisket is quite tasty!  both guys have "studied" the masters in lockhart and surrounding towns that have great bbq.  give them a chance, they have to work out those opening quirks, but i think they will be a hot spot in town soon!

This has really caught my attention. The smoker you refer to is the same as the big pits the Lockhart places use?

I think I will definitely check this place out when I'm in Houston next, on Dec 4 to see Stevie Wonder.

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so, maybe i am biased because the chef and sous chef are friends of mine, but this place will be pretty darn good.  i went to the preview party and helped in the kitchen on sunday, and i can tell you this, they are staying true to texas bbq.  they have a huge smoker back there in that little kitchen and the brisket is quite tasty!  both guys have "studied" the masters in lockhart and surrounding towns that have great bbq.  give them a chance, they have to work out those opening quirks, but i think they will be a hot spot in town soon!

So how do you study with those guys in Lockhart and surrounding towns? Is it as a paid consultant and they let you help at the pit? Or do you covertly get a job and work for a little while and gain knowledge?

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So how do you study with those guys in Lockhart and surrounding towns? Is it as a paid consultant and they let you help at the pit? Or do you covertly get a job and work for a little while and gain knowledge?

I'm very curious about this point as well. Can you just pay them to teach you how to do it? Can you poach a pit master? I doubt they have non-compete contracts.

The fact that true Central Texas-style barbecue doesn't exist outside of Central Texas, not even in Houston and Dallas, boggles my mind. It seems like it wouldn't be that hard to do it, and yet no one has.

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I think what rebecca was pointing to (hence the quotation marks) was that they've "studied" with the lockhart folk as in both the sous chef and chef there are frequenters of the city and the heartiness within.

Unless the above two posts were sarcastic to respond to her sarcasm in which I just don't get through the power of the internet.

Having been to Beavers a few days into their inception, I will have to say that this isn't (at least to me) a "BBQ joint." Both by looking at their menu and eating their food, it's feels that this is just a comfort food joint that takes their BBQ seriously. But again it isn't Central Texas Style bbq, but it is very good bbq. You can tell by both taste and by hearing it from the chef that there the meats use different smoke-times using different wood (not just mesquite, as is the offense of many-a-bbq pit) I will withhold complete and utter judgement since I've worked with the guys, but I will say that both the sausage from Jolie Vue (I think) and the brisket I found to be exceptionally good. Try the other things too, the campechana and chickpeas I found to be good, and my girlfriend (a vegetarian) loved the nut burger.

I (and so should you) look forward to the weeks when they can get in free range berkshire pork for their pit because lets face it, free range pork and bbq = culinary orgasm.

Also, sit at the bar and talk to Bobby and just tell him to make you whatever, no holds barred. He started me out with a pisco (sp?) sour complete with raw egg white and ended a strightforward, clean, crispy, martini (stirred). I admit to previously being an extra-dirty w/ vodka martini kind of guy before. But now I just can't do it anymore.

(without sarcasm) thanks for ruining it for me.

The place has very Monica Pope-touches to it (attention to vegetarians, middle eastern and indian flavors) but isn't a dumbed down t'afia. It's all on it's own, and hey, it's good. With a good price, good drinks, good food. I would say a place you could visit every week or two.

Now only if they would open for lunch. (but they are open till 12 am)

edited to fix spelling/redundancy.

Edited by tetsujustin (log)
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No sarcasm, I'm genuinely interested in this. My crazy dream is to move to Shanghai and start my own Central Texas barbecue joint there.

Justin, can you elaborate on how different the cue is?

I'm definitely going to check this out around 3-5 Dec.

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...can you elaborate on how different the cue is?

When I showed up to Beaver’s for the opening, last Monday night, I honestly wanted to NOT like it as much as I initially wanted to LIKE T’afia. When my wife and I were heading to the restaurant, we had no idea what to expect, other than what we had read on the menu from their website. It seemed interesting, but we weren’t really sure what sort of concept they were going for—I mean, a vegetarian burger at a BBQ joint?

Our opinion changed almost immediately as we drove up. Having not ever driven by the original Beaver’s, we didn’t even know what the building looked like. To my delight, it isn’t some overproduced façade that is trying to act like something it isn’t. The building is just an honest to goodness hole-in-the-wall (cinder block walls with blue icicle lights hanging from the roofline).

Once inside, the place has a cool ambience—I like it anyway. Brighter colors, with an open feel, stained concrete and naturally finished wood. In the center of the room against the far wall, is the well-stocked bar, with Bobby and Dave, two of the most knowledgeable bartenders in Houston behind it. Dedicated to the classics, these guys can pour just about anything you’d like, from a proper Old Fashioned, to an Aviation (last time I was there Dave told me he was trying to secure some Crème de Violette as well).

We had a seat and were given menus to look over. The place, although hip on the inside, had that traditional BBQ smell that every real BBQ place in Texas has. We ended up ordering pork ribs, pork shoulder, NOLA Beans (bourbon and molasses), macaroni & cheese, and some dessert. Now, I’m traditionally someone who prefers wet ribs, and Beaver’s’ ribs come dry with a side of house-made sauce. I took my first bite and was blown away. They are some of the best ribs that I’ve ever had in my life; they didn’t need sauce. The pork shoulder, as well, was delicious. I believe the shoulder comes with some of the house-made North Carolina BBQ sauce on it.

Before I get into some of the other things we had, I should probably address the sauce. I have had two. The North Carolina sauce is a sweeter vinegar-based sauce that is almost syrupy in texture. It has some bite, but grows on you. The sauce that has been served with the ribs and on my second visit, the brisket, is what I would compare to as a more traditional BBQ sauce. I wouldn’t call it traditional Central Texas BBQ sauce, but once you taste it, hopefully you’ll understand. Initially, I was a little disappointed with the sauces, mainly because I was expecting or hoping for a more traditional Central Texas-style sauce; all this to say, I now love them both. They are great on their own and don’t need to be compared to other sauces. Some people might disagree with me, and that is ok…only my opinion.

The beans were awesome. They too don’t harken to tradition, but their sweet, smoky, and boozy flavors all work really well together. The macaroni & cheese were also tasty. Don’t expect a casserole-type dish. They are nicely cheesy (real cheese, not processed, of course), and topped with stewed tomatoes—again, not traditional Southern fare, but really tasty.

On my second visit (four days later), a buddy of mine and I knocked out their wings as an appetizer, more ribs, brisket, potato salad, and more beans. We both agreed that the wings were some of the best wings either of us had ever had. We were sitting at the bar, and the chef, Dax MacAnear, came in several times to speak with the bartenders. On one occasion, Bobby took the opportunity to introduce my friend and I to Dax. Dax came from the Benjy’s kitchen and seems to be obsessed about good food. It shows in his BBQ. An extremely nice guy, he gave us a tour of the kitchen, ending with the smoker. This smoker is serious. In Houston, two companies make reputable pits, Klose and Pits & Spits—the former, being the more serious of the two. Mr. Klose has been making pits in Houston since 1986 and they are world renown. They even got a little TV press a couple of years ago, when Tony Bourdain did a feature on Houston, for Food Network. For more info on Klose Pits: http://www.bbqpits.com/

The meat probably is one of the biggest aspects that sets their food apart from any other BBQ joint in Houston. Their brisket which was also incredible, comes from Harris Ranch, in Central California. http://www.harrisranchbeef.com/hrbc_index.html . They get their pork from Jolie Vue farms www.jolievuefarms.com, who has some of the most lovingly-produced pork in Texas. We sampled some other Jolie Vue pork that they have been playing with and can only hope that it makes it on the menu one day. We also tasted some of Jolie Vue’s sausage which was great. Dax told me that he's pretty sure they are going to go to a 70%-30% pork/fat ratio fairly soon for their sausage, which he thinks will make it even better; at this point who am I to disagree.

I believe he told me that they use a mixture of mesquite and maple in the firebox. I know that isn’t traditional either, but please wait to eat the awesome product before passing judgment on the wood choice.

I think all in all, it is hard to pigeon hole Beaver’s as just a BBQ joint. It is much more than that. I think testujustin said it perfectly, “ [beaver’s is] a comfort food joint that takes their BBQ seriously. But again it isn't Central Texas Style BBQ, but it is very good BBQ.” Beaver’s is Pope’s take on BBQ and comfort food. Though I obviously had my reservations in the beginning, they are gone and I can already tell that I will have to limit myself to no more than one trip per week-ish.

Also things of note: The awesome beer list and the homemade libation concoctions.

edited for grammatical issues...

Edited by Morgan_Weber (log)
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I have met several people from eGullet at the bar recently and just want to thank everyone for coming in and introducing themselves. It has been a lot of fun meeting people who are enthusiastic about food and drinks and open to creativity. It has made my job a joy and, I think been a nice way to get to know people on here. Humorously, some eGullet members have been running to each other, which I thought was kind of cool as well. Anyway, just wanted to say thanks to everyone for their support and the positive comments received thus far. Hopefully, the experience has been as enjoyable for you as it has been for me. For those of you who haven't been in yet, please introduce yourself to me at the bar if you choose to come in.

Robert Heugel

Anvil Bar & Refuge - Houston, TX

http://www.drinkdogma.com

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I was one who came by Beavers mostly to meet Robert and try some really nice cocktails. Robert did not dissapoint, he is very knowledgeable about his spirits and mixes some flawless drinks including really cool whisky drink with a whisp of cinnamon, a gin(first on in 20 years) drink and a real pisco sour with egg white. Food wise I was only able to sample the ribs which were good. I think the place will be a great addition for the innerloop crouwd but will withold much more until I can sample more.

Also, I was able to meet Morgan Weber while there and look forward to trying out somenew things with him and talk a little more about houstons overall dining scene.

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What's really the scoop on this chick?  .......Blah blah blah.  Can the food not just speak for itself?  She plasters her name and awards on EVERYTHING! 

Sounds to me like the consensus is pretty good and the food is speaking clearly. I'm looking forward to going next month when I am in Houston. I'm not really surprised, though. As I said in my post above- She knows what she is doing.

Thanks for the reviews. I enjoyed them.

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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I went to Beaver's last night before seeing Stevie Wonder.

In short: The food is OK, the drinks spectacular.

Food

A review of the food, mixed with a concise discussion on proper Central Texas-style barbecue.

Let's get this out of the way: This is not a Central Texas-style joint, and has no pretensions to be. Whether the cooks have "studied" at the top Central Texas places or not, everyone at Beaver's says there intention is not to attempt to emulate that style. Major differences are apparent as soon as you enter the place: it is not counter service and you do not order meat by the pound.

Their menu looks interesting and has a lot of side-dishes that are not run-of-the-mill. However, I wanted to see their take on the barbecue staples so I requested a sampler of brisket, ribs, pork shoulder, and sausage, which was not on the menu but the kitchen kindly accommodated me.

Most of the barbecue was overcooked and had a mealy texture and was too moist. I don't pretend to know how to actually cook barbecue -- only how to taste it -- but I believe this is symptomatic of too high heat for too short of a time. The brisket was the most overcooked, followed by the ribs. This resulted in a mealy texture, instead of biting into long strands of muscle fibers, those fibers broke apart too easily and became like sand particles in your mouth.

Everything was also too moist -- as in actual moisture, not fat. The insides of the meat was especially moist, while the outside was not as crisp and dry as it should be. The meat, particularly the brisket, was also very lean. "Moistness" should come from the fat, not actual moisture. The goal of barbecue is to remove that moisture while retaining the fat.

All the barbecue lacked smoke flavor. If you leave a half pound of brisket from one of the top Central Texas joints in your car, it will thoroughly permeate the cabin and make it smell like that for hours after you take the meat out. Beaver's isn't even half as smoky as that. It is about as smoky as what can be achieved with gas ovens, like from Salt Lick (Driftwood) or Pok-E-Jo's (Austin).

The pork shoulder was the best of the meats, though I know very little about Carolina barbecue.

The menu indicates they have a variety of sausages, but my sampler plate only had Italian sausage. The sausage was made well, with a coarse grind and boldly flavored with fennel, but seemed too lean. This could due to both the fat content at which it was made and the way it was cooked. Central Texas sausage, frankly, is the best sausage in the world because it is minimally seasoned but packed with fat, and cooked in such a way that it retains all that fat. A good Central Texas sausage, when cooked properly -- which is only possible at the top joints -- will spray rivulets of fat into your mouth (and possibly all over the place!) when you bite into it. If you try to cook the exact same sausage at home, it will be incredibly bland and the fat will not flow in the same way, so you end up with a bland sausage with little fat and no seasoning.

I appreciate that Beaver's understands the lesson here: if you cannot cook sausage like the top joints, don't bother trying to do so with blandly-seasoned sausage. By using boldly-seasoned sausages like Italian, you can compensate for the lack of fat, but nevertheless it's never as good as a proper Central Texas sausage. Beaver's casing also lacked the beautiful snap of Central Texas sausage; I don't know if it was natural casing or not.

The rub that is used on the brisket and ribs is quite bold and tasty. This is one area that they have down pat. Many of the top Central Texas joints, like Luling City Market, have a very minimal rub with just a small amount of salt and pepper. Others, like Cooper's in Mason, use a rub with seasonings beyond just salt and pepper. This is a matter of taste, but I prefer a more bold rub. Beaver's rub is even more bold than Cooper's, and they rub more of it on, too.

The sauce was pretty good, thick texture, somewhat complex, well-balanced. Some of the top Central Texas joints have terrible sauce, as if it was a point of pride. I say that unless you just refuse to serve sauce at all (like Kreuz), people are going to inevitably use your sauce -- after all, not everyone is a purist -- so at least make it good. It is the closest to John Mueller's (now closed) sauce, which was similarly thick. John served his sauce out of a crock pot with intact rings of onions in it, and is perhaps the best sauce I've ever tasted. Perhaps Beaver's can try to emulate that.

After I finished my food, Dax, one of the cooks, showed me their pit, which is all wood, no gas. It is not the typical large horizontal pit but upright, about the size of a large refrigerator, with multiple racks for the meat. This is much more space-efficient, but the top joints all use the same horizontal style pit for a reason. I understand the compromises that have to be made for a restaurant in the city, and so do not fault them for that. It might also be possible to turn out very good barbecue out of this kind of oven when they get more experience with it.

Although I am certainly biased by Central Texas-style standards, I by no means attempted to judge Beaver's by those criteria, but from a unbiased aesthetic standpoint of "does this taste good?" I think it is fine, but could be much better. It doesn't need to be more like Central Texas-style, but there is a lot they can learn from those top joints about how to cook great barbecue.

I should also add that Beaver's has only been open two weeks and mastering barbecue takes a long time, arguably longer than any other kind of cuisine. The rest of the menu also looks highly promising and I look forward to returning to Beaver's to taste Monica Pope's take on barbecue staple side-dishes.

Drinks

Beaver's has the best drinks of any restaurant I have ever been to -- excluding wine, which I'm not very knowledgeable about. That's a serious statement that I do not make lightly.

Beer

The beer selection is superb. Dave, who compiled it, is quite knowledgeable about beer, more so than any restaurant bartender I've met. They carry Ayinger Celebrator, the best dopplebock in the world, and Unibroue La Fin du Monde, one of the best Belgian pale ales. Between these two, you have some of the best dark and pale beers available in North America. They also carry 10-20 other craft beers, including a rare North Coast Old Stock Ale (BeerAdvocate) that I ordered, which I've never seen anywhere else.

The beer menu itself is rather disorganized and hard to read, but I'm sure this will improve over time. Your best bet is to just ask Dave. The selection itself will also change rapidly as they learn which beers sell well, I hope for the better. I'm optimistic as Celebrator and La Fin du Monde are very approachable for beer novices and hopefully Beaver's will make some converts out of them.

I've only been to a handful of restaurants with similar beer selections, particularly in the Pacific Northwest where they have a strong craft beer scene, but none in Texas.

Cocktails

The cocktails are superb, and judging from what I've read of the dismal cocktail scene in Houston, Beaver's cocktails are the best in the city. Bobby is highly knowledgeable about cocktails, as you can tell from his blog. They make their own grenadine and ginger syrup, and juices are freshly squeezed. This is par for the course at the top cocktail bars in New York (Pegu Club, Death & Co., PDT) but very rare in Texas. As far as I know, Veritas in College Station is the only one that can compare. Veritas, I do feel is better than Beaver's, as they have a much higher budget for their cocktail program and, as knowledgeable as Bobby is, judging from his posts in the cocktail forum, Andy at Veritas is even more so. As far as cocktails in Texas go, Veritas and Beaver's are the best, and everything else can't even begin to compare. To make an analogy, the difference between these two and the rest of the bars in Texas is as great as that between Da Marco and Olive Garden.

I enjoyed a Pisco Sour as an aperitif, and sampled a glass of the newly-legal Lucid absinthe with my meal. Bobby also introduced me to the O'Henry, an early twentieth-century (?) rye cocktail. Fellow eG regular Morgan Weber also showed up at the bar and we both had an Aviation -- very nice meeting you, Morgan.

The idea of great cocktails in a barbecue restaurant is a little strange, but I'm not going to complain. It would actually be rather quaint to meet people for cocktails at this place.

Conclusion

I've been to restaurants with great cocktails (The Modern at the MOMA in New York), and restaurants with great beer selections (Union in Seattle), but never one with both. I suppose cocktailians and beer connoisseurs don't run in the same circles. Without considering the food, Monica Pope has created an excellent bar that, were I a Houston resident, would be proud to be a regular of.

The food that I did sample was OK, but I feel that the rest of the menu is much more promising. Overall, I think this is a superb restaurant and will certainly be back next time I'm in town.

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Kent - that was me next to you at the bar last night....having the over-cooked ribs and the whatever beer you recommended. I also had the ground lamb with dried fruit & it was quite nice.

Great review. I too believe in Pope's ability to make a 1st class joint. She's done it at the bar (both beer & cocktails). I'm sure she'll also get it right for the bbq. Interesting that the bartender told us that they need more help in the kitchen and they don't get started in the kitchen until 8:00am (very late for bbq I would think).

hope you enjoyed the show & come back to Houston any time.

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So obviously one can't please everybody...

But to give Kent’s opinions honest consideration, I went back again last night to taste the brisket and a couple of other things.

Just a few things to point out or question from Kent's review of Beavers:

"This is not a Central Texas-style joint, and has no pretensions to be."

-Then why is your whole review so focused on how it doesn't live up to your "Central Texas BBQ" expectations?

"Major differences are apparent as soon as you enter the place: it is not counter service and you do not order meat by the pound."

-I think we already established this in previous posts.

"I don't pretend to know how to actually cook barbecue -- only how to taste it -- "

-You don't? One might never assume this by reading the review.

"Everything was also too moist -- as in actual moisture, not fat. The insides of the meat was especially moist, while the outside was not as crisp and dry as it should be. The meat, particularly the brisket, was also very lean. "Moistness" should come from the fat, not actual moisture. The goal of barbecue is to remove that moisture while retaining the fat."

-I must have accidentally skipped this chapter in the BBQ Bible--first time I've ever heard about this rule on barbecue ‘moist-ness’...Let’s take a look at what kind of cut of meat that brisket is and where it comes from on the cow. It is located on the very front of the cow, just below the chuck. This means that while the cow is alive, this muscle moves every time the cow does, making it an extremely tough piece of meat. On one side of the brisket is a big fat layer, but in the flesh itself, there is not much more than finely marbled fat and a small amount of connective tissue. To make the brisket chewable, it HAS to be cooked slowly, for a long period of time over low heat. Beaver’s cooks their’s for 12-14 hours, at 200-225 degrees (at this point I would like to correct one of my previous posts regarding the wood used--it is a mixture of red oak and maple...not mesquite. my bad). With these long cooking times and low temperatures, any sort of marbling and connective tissue found in the flesh, renders out or breaks down. Your idea of removing moisture, but retaining fat (other than that found on the outside of the brisket) is impossible. For a better scientific explanation on this, see "On Food and Cooking", by Harold McGee.

"All the barbecue lacked smoke flavor."

-Wha, wha, wha, what?!?!? Of all the things I don't agree with in this review, this one is at the top of the list. Given the long smoking times that are previously stated, how a piece of meet can sit on a rack attached to a firebox for that long and not have a smoky flavor?...well...I just don't know what to say Kent...

“If you leave a half pound of brisket from one of the top Central Texas joints in your car, it will thoroughly permeate the cabin and make it smell like that for hours after you take the meat out.”

-Um...ew...

When my wife read this, she actually shreaked saying, “WHAT?!?! Our house apartment STILL smells like BBQ from Tuesday.

Concerning the "smokiness" of the ribs. When you bite into their ribs, there is a pink ring under the outer smoke layer. Commonly, that is referred to as the 'smoke ring'. It runs almost completely through Beaver’s ribs. If anything, I could see one arguing that they might be too smoky. Personally, I've never encountered what "too smoky" might taste like... :smile:

"The sausage was made well, with a coarse grind and boldly flavored with fennel, but seemed too lean."

-As of last week, the sausage was at 75% meet and 25% fat. Dax informed me that he has been talking with Jolie Vue Farms about changing it to a 70/30 ratio. I'm not sure if this has happened yet.

"A good Central Texas sausage, when cooked properly -- which is only possible at the top joints -- will spray rivulets of fat into your mouth (and possibly all over the place!) when you bite into it."

-What? I must've missed this chapter about 'fat spraying' in quality Central Texas charcuterie as well. And this incessant referral to “top joints”…geeeeze. One of my favorite Central Texas BBQ places, Luling City Meat Market (in Luling…not the one in Houston), also happens to have one of my favorite sausages. Kent, I'm sure you've eaten here and have tasted it. It is far from the fat spraying sausage that you speak of (of course, you might not like their sausage as well). Now, on the opposite end of the spectrum, Burns BBQ here in Houston has a completely different style of link, but it is equally as tasty...apples & oranges man, apples & oranges.

“John served his sauce out of a crock pot with intact rings of onions in it, and is perhaps the best sauce I've ever tasted. Perhaps Beaver's can try to emulate that.”

-Why?

"After I finished my food, Dax, one of the cooks..."

-Laughs (he’s the chef…)

"It is not the typical large horizontal pit but upright, about the size of a large refrigerator, with multiple racks for the meat. This is much more space-efficient, but the top joints all use the same horizontal style pit for a reason. I understand the compromises that have to be made for a restaurant in the city, and so do not fault them for that. It might also be possible to turn out very good barbecue out of this kind of oven when they get more experience with it."

-[shakes head...shrugs...] http://www.bbqpits.com Umm...top joints...Horizontal, vertical, whatever...if Mr. Klose was making me a bbq pit, he can make it in the shape of rocket ship and I would trust him that it smokes meat properly.

“It might also be possible to turn out very good barbecue out of this kind of oven when they get more experience with it.”

-“Oven”…[rolls eyes]. Because my grandpa could throw away NOTHING, when their refrigerator went out at the house, he took it out back by the barn and tore out the insides and put a bunch of racks in it. Then he took an old clothes dryer and set it up next to the fridge. Next he cut a hole in each and attached them together. The dryer was the firebox and the fridge was the smoker. This was 40 years ago. Crude as it might be, he made some fine, fine BBQ in the contraption. Sounds awfully similar to the style of smoker that I’ve seen at Beavers…(of course, their's isn't an old refrigerator...I'm talking concept people, only concept)

"Although I am certainly biased by Central Texas-style standards, I by no means attempted to judge Beaver's by those criteria"

-Really?

"I should also add that Beaver's has only been open two weeks and mastering barbecue takes a long time, arguably longer than any other kind of cuisine."

-This statement might be a bit strong...All of the dead sushi masters and pioneers of French cuisine just rolled over in their graves. It is hard to BBQ for a restaurant, I’m not disputing that. You are getting so wrapped up in the minutia of what you think ‘perfect’ barbecue is. I think we all understand that you are partial to what you think is Central Texas-style BBQ, but there are extreme variations even within that genre.

"They carry Ayinger Celebrator, the best dopplebock in the world"

-People that claim something is the BEST with such authority...How about this, "They carry Ayinger Celebrator, which is in my humble opinion, is the best dopplebock in the world".

"As far as I know, Veritas in College Station is the only one that can compare. Veritas, I do feel is better than Beaver's, as they have a much higher budget for their cocktail program and, as knowledgeable as Bobby is, judging from his posts in the cocktail forum, Andy at Veritas is even more so. "

-Yeah Bobby, you suck! You should probably quit bartending (can I have your awesome muddler?). You know, cause this was obviously a contest…

"Fellow eG regular Morgan Weber also showed up at the bar and we both had an Aviation -- very nice meeting you, Morgan."

-Nice to meet you too.

"The idea of great cocktails in a barbecue restaurant is a little strange, but I'm not going to complain. It would actually be rather quaint to meet people for cocktails at this place."

-Quaint…yeeeah, that’s what I’d call it. [shrugs] I would say this happened more by accident than anything. Bobby and Dave love cocktails and work at a place that has management that supports creativity. Quality drinks are birthed out of that. It's only natural.

"Overall, I think this is a superb restaurant and will certainly be back next time I'm in town."

-I'm glad you enjoyed it. :smile:

*******

In conclusion, I believe that people who are really passionate about food, as Kent obviously is (myself included), are constantly walking a line between knowing food, knowing a lot about food, knowing how to cook food, and ENJOYING food. It is easy to be critical of everything we eat, especially in comparison with paradigm-altering meals that we’ve had in the past. At what point though are we so critical that we can’t enjoy a meal or even approach it with an open mind? When I’m in the South, and I’m eating a pulled pork sandwich, I’m not thinking with every bite, “Wow, this compares not to what I had growing up in Central Texas…that’s a shame.” It is what it is, just like Beaver’s is what it is. To make such broad generalizations does us injustices as food lovers.

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Kent - that was me next to you at the bar last night....having the over-cooked ribs and the whatever beer you recommended.  I also had the ground lamb with dried fruit & it was quite nice.

Howdy!

-Then why is your whole review so focused on how it doesn't live up to your "Central Texas BBQ" expectations?

This is answered by my statement above:

Although I am certainly biased by Central Texas-style standards, I by no means attempted to judge Beaver's by those criteria, but from a unbiased aesthetic standpoint of "does this taste good?" I think it is fine, but could be much better. It doesn't need to be more like Central Texas-style, but there is a lot they can learn from those top joints about how to cook great barbecue.

Frankly, I just don't think their barbecue tastes great, Central Texas or not. One thing they could do is make a pork rib that is very tender, which would be overcooked by Central Texas standards, but would still be delicious. The ideal Central Texas ribs, in my opinion, are too dry. Their ribs are approaching that non-Central Texas ideal but are too mealy and overcooked.

With these long cooking times and low temperatures, any sort of marbling and connective tissue found in the flesh, renders out or breaks down.  Your idea of removing moisture, but retaining fat (other than that found on the outside of the brisket) is impossible. 

Brisket has plenty of marbling in it. I've had countless briskets from the top places that have less moisture and tons of fat retained. Here's a few (click to zoom in):

gallery_36558_3077_14530.jpg

Cooper's in Llano.

gallery_36558_3077_9200.jpg

Black's in Lockhart.

55051060_0e2b8a6b01.jpg

Louie Mueller's in Taylor.

Granted, it could also be that this piece of brisket happened to be on the dry side. This happens even at the top joints. Each brisket is different.

Given the long smoking times that are previously stated, how a piece of meet can sit on a rack attached to a firebox for that long and not have a smoky flavor?

Maybe it's because that firebox is inferior to the horizontal pit? I don't pretend to know why, all I'm telling you is that it is definitely not as smoky as what the top joints turn out.

Concerning the "smokiness" of the ribs.  When you bite into their ribs, there is a pink ring under the outer smoke layer.  Commonly, that is referred to as the 'smoke ring'.  It runs almost completely through Beaver’s ribs.  If anything, I could see one arguing that they might be too smoky.  Personally, I've never encountered what "too smoky" might taste like...  :smile:

Smoke ring is actually an unreliable indication of smokiness.

Smoke Ring in Barbeque Meats by Joe Cordray:

When a smoke ring develops in barbecue meats it is not because smoke has penetrated and colored the muscle, but rather because gases in the smoke interact with the pigment myoglobin. Two phenomenon provide evidence that it is not the smoke itself that causes the smoke ring. First, it is possible to have a smoke ring develop in a product that has not been smoked and second, it is also possible to heavily smoke a product without smoke ring development.

In barbecue judging, smoke ring is prohibited from being used a criterion.

Also, I do not find Beaver's smoke ring any deeper than what I've seen at the top Central Texas joints.

-What?  I must've missed this chapter about 'fat spraying' in quality Central Texas charcuterie as well.  And this incessant referral to “top joints”…geeeeze.  One of my favorite Central Texas BBQ places, Luling City Meat Market (in Luling…not the one in Houston), also happens to have one of my favorite sausages.  Kent, I'm sure you've eaten here and have tasted it.  It is far from the fat spraying sausage that you speak of (of course, you might not like their sausage as well).

Luling was exactly what I had in mind, actually. Last time I was there I bit into one and had a rivulet of fat spray three feet across the table -- luckily no one was hit. But that's the big difference: when you bite into it there is a lot of fat that flows out. I don't think Luling's fat percentage is much different from what Beaver's uses; it's the way that it's cooked that makes all the difference.

Also, Beaver's slices their sausage before serving which only promotes fat loss.

“John served his sauce out of a crock pot with intact rings of onions in it, and is perhaps the best sauce I've ever tasted. Perhaps Beaver's can try to emulate that.”

-Why?

This is only an idle suggestion. I think their sauce is fine.

"After I finished my food, Dax, one of the cooks..."

-Laughs (he’s the chef…)

Sorry, I wasn't sure of that and didn't want to say he was the chef if that wasn't the case.

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http://www.bbqpits.com Umm...top joints...Horizontal, vertical, whatever...if Mr. Klose was making me a bbq pit, he can make it in the shape of rocket ship and I would trust him that it smokes meat properly.

Why is it that all the top joints use the same style horizontal pit? I don't care how long he's been building pits, I don't trust Mr. Klose to know more about cooking barbecue than Luling City Market, Mueller's, etc. who have been using their pits longer than he's been alive. Also, maybe Mr. Klose does know that the big horizontal pits are the best, but how is he going to be able to sell a fixed pit like that? He has to come over to your place and actually build it.

-People that claim something is the BEST with such authority...How about this, "They carry Ayinger Celebrator, which is in my humble opinion, is the best dopplebock in the world".

How about I start sticking "in my opinion" onto every statement I make? No thanks.

-Yeah Bobby, you suck!  You should probably quit bartending (can I have your awesome muddler?).  You know, cause this was obviously a contest…

You read too much into this. I mention Veritas in the context that if you like the cocktails at Beaver's, you should check out Veritas, too. That's like saying that I can't compare PDT in a thread on Death & Co. That just stifles discussion.

In conclusion, I believe that people who are really passionate about food, as Kent obviously is (myself included), are constantly walking a line between knowing food, knowing a lot about food, knowing how to cook food, and ENJOYING food.  It is easy to be critical of everything we eat, especially in comparison with paradigm-altering meals that we’ve had in the past.  At what point though are we so critical that we can’t enjoy a meal or even approach it with an open mind?  When I’m in the South, and I’m eating a pulled pork sandwich, I’m not thinking with every bite, “Wow, this compares not to what I had growing up in Central Texas…that’s a shame.”  It is what it is, just like Beaver’s is what it is.  To make such broad generalizations does us injustices as food lovers.

This just sounds like a cop out. Turning off your critical mind and saying "it is what it is" is just giving them a pass. My criticism of the food in no way altered my enjoyment of it. My meal was very satisfying, and frankly even bad barbecue is still pretty tasty.

Finally, I'd like to add that the reason I have written so much about this restaurant is because I care deeply about barbecue and I think they have the potential to be great.

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Dangit. I wish I knew how to do that fancy quote thing. Alas, I'll have to stick to the ghetto way. Sorry.

A lot of your points are well taken. I might not agree, but they are good arguments. Concerning brisket and its leanness and fatness. There are two sections to every brisket, the flat and the point. One is fattier, and one is leaner. I think I forgot to address that in my previous response. Every brisket has both sections. It could be that you prefer the fattier section to the one that you may have been gotten at Beaver's. I'm not 100% sure that they serve both the flat and the point. I'm only guessing.

My preference in the moisture content of brisket is for it not to be dry as was elluded to in your disdain for moisture in your first review. Fat, moisture, meat juices, or whatever you want to refer to it as; your pictures, look like they have quite moist brisket in them.

If your intention wasn't to compare Beaver's to other Central Texas BBQ places that you enjoy, I think I and others that I have spoken too missed that, even though you stated it several times in your first review. It came across like, "I'm not comparing this to Central Texas BBQ, but now I'm going to compare it to Central Texas BBQ". It seemed contradictory.

"Frankly, I just don't think their barbecue tastes great, Central Texas or not. One thing they could do is make a pork rib that is very tender, which would be overcooked by Central Texas standards, but would still be delicious. The ideal Central Texas ribs, in my opinion, are too dry. Their ribs are approaching that non-Central Texas ideal but are too mealy and overcooked."

-I have had their ribs on three different occassions now and haven't had the dry, overcooked rib experience that you and Kerr had. There might be some inconsistencies in the product, but I must say, the ribs that I have had, have been among the better ones I've ever tasted--Central Texas or not.

"Smoke ring is actually an unreliable indication of smokiness."

-I was not aware of this, but I understand your point. Duely noted.

"Luling was exactly what I had in mind, actually. Last time I was there I bit into one and had a rivulet of fat spray three feet across the table -- luckily no one was hit. But that's the big difference: when you bite into it there is a lot of fat that flows out. I don't think Luling's fat percentage is much different from what Beaver's uses; it's the way that it's cooked that makes all the difference."

-So obviously, there is some inconsistence in this product as well, because I don't remember this happening during the times I've eaten there. Also regarding sausage, call me crazy, but I think of all the usual suspects in the smoker, it might be the one that requires the least attention during the cooking process. In my opinion the craft of fine sausage comes in the initial making of it (grinding, seasoning, curing, etc.), not in cooking it. I suppose this could be debated, but it might be where we differ in opinions. I think you might also be confusing rendered fat for meat juices.

"Why is it that all the top joints use the same style horizontal pit? I don't care how long he's been building pits, I don't trust Mr. Klose to know more about cooking barbecue than Luling City Market, Mueller's, etc. who have been using their pits longer than he's been alive. Also, maybe Mr. Klose does know that the big horizontal pits are the best, but how is he going to be able to sell a fixed pit like that? He has to come over to your place and actually build it."

-Tons of champion BBQ teams use Klose Pits. If we can't establish trust based on what Klose does, then I have no stance for debate. I would also bet that he wouldn't put out a product that he feels is inferior...I mean his name is on it.

"How about I start sticking "in my opinion" onto every statement I make? No thanks."

-Its pretty common for people on message boards to say something like "IMHO"--"In my humble opinion". It just removes some of the elitism...

"You read too much into this. I mention Veritas in the context that if you like the cocktails at Beaver's, you should check out Veritas, too. That's like saying that I can't compare PDT in a thread on Death & Co. That just stifles discussion."

-I felt that this might have been a useless comparison since the restaurants are completely different in style and concept. I haven't had a chance to eat at Veritas as I don't make it to College Station very often. If it is that good, which I hear from others that it is as well, then give them their own thread.

"This just sounds like a cop out. Turning off your critical mind and saying "it is what it is" is just giving them a pass. My criticism of the food in no way altered my enjoyment of it. My meal was very satisfying, and frankly even bad barbecue is still pretty tasty."

-I'm not sure you understood what I was trying to convey. I'm not saying you should give them a pass if your ribs, etc., were overcooked, which might have been the case. I'm saying that your words came across as if you had a hard time getting past the fact that it wasn't Central Texas BBQ. Whether or not that is what you meant, it was how it was perceived...at least on my end.

"Finally, I'd like to add that the reason I have written so much about this restaurant is because I care deeply about barbecue and I think they have the potential to be great."

-I appreciate that you love barbecue. Both of us wouldn't be taking the time to write these ridiculously long responses if we weren't passionate about it. I think when the water boils out of the pot (not to use a crappy food cliche), its healthy to have these sorts of debates, but there were some pretty powerful statements made in your original review that were backed up more by what seemed to be your preferences--these preferences which are obviously influenced by your love for Central Texas BBQ. I think Beaver's is doing a great job honing their concept. It is like no other restaurant that I know of (of the restaurants that I'm aware of, Cochon in New Orleans comes the closest, IMO, but they are still miles apart). Just wait till they start making their OWN sausage. Those days will eventually be here. As much as I hate this statement, we might just have to agree to disagree about their BBQ.

edited for grammatical clarity

Edited by Morgan_Weber (log)
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  • 1 month later...

I went to Beavers again recently and had a good time. I REALLY enjoy the bar and its bartenders. After my 2 visits I want to really like this place but I'm not sure I can completely. I don't know what happened to Kent on his visit but to say there isn't enough smoke in the bbq is crazy. This is the smokiest bbq I have ever had, so much so that I think it is too smokey. I could barely finish the brisket I ordered because of the what in my opinion is too much smoke. I remembered my ribs being really smokey as well on an earlier visit. Maybe it is the type of wood? I don't know red oak or maple as far as what they give but I think it may give a slightly bitter over smoked taste? Post oak seems to be my favorite followed by Pecan and Hickory. Maybe they are still testing, I don't know? I am going to give it another shot, possibly the pork.

I did have a really tasty pepporicini stuffed with goat cheese that was pretty tasty. I'd like to order some sides but I can't afford to eat bbq, drink some really good cocktails and eat sides at this place.

Anyway, it would be nice if a few more people could give this place a shot and see if I am off base here.

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Now, I've not been, so grain of salt and all that, but it just seems so weird to have such a top-notch bar attached to a barbecue joint, upscale bbq or no. Props to Pope or whomever it was for really putting the care and effort into the bar side of the equation but the two just seem so incongruous. It's like taking the already risky concept of upscale barbecue and then pushing it that much further.

I guess personally, I have a hard time wrapping my head around having a Manhattan and then tucking into a pulled pork sandwich (which isn't to say that I won't when I go, but still . . .).

Doesn't it seem like the bar would be better suited for T'Fia? Maybe do microbrews or something instead at Beaver's? Would or do people come to a barbecue place just for the bar scene? Would they know to?

Don't want to be one of the naysayers here, I truly admire Pope's efforts and impact on Houston as I said earlier in the thread. If anyone could pull this off, I think it's her. But every time I read about this place it seems pretty uniform that the bar is tops but the food is much more mixed.

Has this been commented on by Pope or others associated with the restaurant? Thoughts?

Edited by Kevin72 (log)
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OK, that article clears it up. The pit boss quit and now it's being run by a chef. Somehow I doubt that Houston's fire code would allow an old style horizontal pit with a fire at one end. You would have to use a commercial pit of some sort. Both the old and new horizontal pits cook the same way, they are simply a vehicle for conveying heat & smoke. The difference being the quality of the meat, the type of wood used and the experience of the person running the pit. I don't see anywhere on the menu where they claim to be selling Central Texas style BBQ but I do see that they tout that everything is all natural and drug free. Considering the quality of the meat, if you had "bad" anything then they are doing a very poor job of BBQing. Berkshire ribs are tender before you cook them, how can you screw that up? Considering all of the appetizers, sides and extras BBQ just seems forced into the menu. It's like they were going to open a burger joint then switched to BBQ because it's the new happening cool thing.

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OK, that article clears it up.  The pit boss quit and now it's being run by a chef.  Somehow I doubt that Houston's fire code would allow an old style horizontal pit with a fire at one end.  You would have to use a commercial pit of some sort.  Both the old and new horizontal pits cook the same way, they are simply a vehicle for conveying heat & smoke.  The difference being the quality of the meat, the type of wood used and the experience of the person running the pit.  I don't see anywhere on the menu where they claim to be selling Central Texas style BBQ but I do see that they tout that everything is all natural and drug free.  Considering the quality of the meat, if you had "bad" anything then they are doing a very poor job of BBQing.  Berkshire ribs are tender before you cook them, how can you screw that up?  Considering all of the appetizers, sides and extras BBQ just seems forced into the menu.  It's like they were going to open a burger joint then switched to BBQ because it's the new happening cool thing.

What about red oak and maple? Any thoughts on the wood choice?

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