The Brisket House
5775 Woodway, Houston Texas 77057
3217 Center St. Deer Park Texas 77536
Visit dates: 2-23-2014, 3-9-2014
Wayne Kammerl displays his Southern Pride cooker unapologetically right up front at The Brisket House on Woodway. Let’s get this out of the way now: They use a Southern Pride. Their Deer Park location uses an Ole Hickory, which is a similar device. Both of these pits have been much maligned by the BBQ critic community, primarily due to their use of gas. To read more about how they work and why they are often associated with bad BBQ, check out my article here.
I will agree that the sight of one of these “gassers” is usually an indicator of mediocre barbecue, but with the right amount of effort surprisingly good results can be had. The staff at The Brisket House loads up the Southern Pride with wood for the overnight burn and turns down the thermostat to limit the gas fire to as little as possible. With proper care the output is very good quality BBQ and one should look beyond the pit brand in this instance.
One other item to note is that the Woodway location is nestled in a strip center adorned with the standard brick facade. It would be very easy to pass by and falsely assume that this is just another large BBQ chain joint that cranks out bland tasteless BBQ. The Brisket House produces quality BBQ and should be visited.
If I’ve still got your attention, I can now talk about the good BBQ that is served up here. One of things Leslye and I really enjoy is being surprised. When we went to Snow’s, Franklin, and other well hyped joints were expecting great tasting smoked meats. When we visited The Brisket House we were not expecting the level of BBQ that we experienced.
Our first visit surprised us with well rendered fatty brisket and a darn good beef rib. I had been to one of the best BBQ joints around the previous day and we had the residual memories of great BBQ lingering in our minds.
A good beef rib always makes me smile
We got our standard plate of brisket and sausage along with baked beans, but opted for “baked potato salad”. We also grabbed a beef rib.
The brisket was smoked well. The fat was just on the edge of the consistency of butter and it is at that point it adds flavor and moisture to the meat. Many places undercook brisket and the fat is chewy; not here. There was plenty of smoke flavor imparted into the meat and we did a double take to check if they didn’t have a 100% wood pit hidden somewhere. The sausage was good and had decent snap.
Beef short ribs are becoming popular in Texas BBQ but are still a rarity in the Houston area. Beef short ribs can be identified by the larger oval bone supporting the meat. While there are technically a few different cuts and you can read the article by Robb Walsh, they are still easily differentiated from beef back ribs. I’m beginning to favor them even over brisket, but I’m still using brisket as the main basis of my reviews since they are not a standard option. In addition to The Brisket House, Killen’s BBQ offers them, Corkscrew may be experimenting with offering them, and I’ve read that The Hungry Farmer also offers them but have not visited yet.
The beef short rib I had at The Brisket house was perfectly smoked, with a nice but not overpowering rub that allowed the smoky taste to shine through. Many wood-pit purists may begin to doubt themselves after sampling the cue here, it really is that good.
The beans were good, but the baked potato salad was another pleasant surprise. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but for some reason I wasn’t thinking “baked potato” even though it is right there in the name. With sour cream and bacon added to the potatoes it was a nice alternative to the mustard or mayonnaise based offering most common. In talking with Wayne, there is an added expense to producing this dish and it wasn’t an immediate hit as folks were hesitant to try but I highly recommend being a little adventurous and choosing it.
Wayne stopped by our table and we chatted for a bit. Much of the conversation centered on the Southern Pride but we also dipped into a few other areas. They do a good amount of catering here so I let him get back to preparing for the day’s orders.
I’ll also talk about the “Aggie special” since most other reviewers mention it too. Popularized in College Station, the entrée does not include traditional sides but rather includes a slab of cheese and a whole pickle along with the standard onions and bread. Dropping the sides cuts the price down just a bit and I would probably have ordered it if I didn’t normally order sides as part of a review. Wayne has renamed it to The Brisket House Specials and there are three options based on amount of meat desired.
My kind of PB&J
On our second visit we tried a newly released sandwich called “Wayne’s P. B. and J. This is Pulled pork, Brisket, and Jalapeno sausage topped with slaw. A Jalapeno cheese bun rounds out the $7.50 bargain. When the sandwich arrived it looked very pleasing. While I would prefer my slaw on the side, after a few bites I declared this a winner. The bun was great with a slightly spicy hit that included cheese flavors and a soft and buttery dough. It all mixed together in a great combination that would have me ordering it regularly if it wasn’t a 70 mile round trip from my house. This would be a great mid-week lunch stop or as a secondary item for a multi-person meal.
Am I a gas convert? Have I crossed over to the dark side of BBQ? Yes and no. In this case the BBQ that comes out of their cooker is quality, but I still feel they are an exception to the rule. However, the quality of the BBQ and the beef rib has edged them into my Houston Area Top 5.
Don’t overlook The Brisket House because of the Southern Pride or the non-traditional building.
Open your mind, open your mouth, and let your taste buds take the joyride that good Texas BBQ from The Brisket House provides.