The first thing that intrigued me about Stockyard Bar-B-Q was the way it was remodeled. It used to be an Italian joint called La Trattoria before they shuttered their doors. I remember driving by each day and watching the renovation. It was nothing too exciting, just the usual drywall-destroying, carpet-ripping, and 2×4-busting renovations. Then something caught my eye one day. Now, mind you, I did not know what was going into the new space. I noticed a small room being framed out from the front facade of the restaurant. This was intriguing until I saw a galvanized steel stack growing from it, and aha BBQ.
They have been open for a little while, and I wanted to give them a bit of time to get the kinks worked out before checking this place out, but then the girlfriend had a groupon so the timing was perfect. When I went to the website I was tremendously annoyed by their lack of professionalism. Three of the six page links were lacking in content. This annoys me to no end.
I met the girlfreind there to have an early dinner since she had a book event to attend that evening, and I was pleasently surprised at what I saw when I came in. The decor was of a western style with cream colored tables and walls. The walls were adorned with western pictures, cows, horses, rodeo scenes, John Wayne photos, and the odd George Strait portrait that was just outside the restroom door. I was also pleased with the scent of the business. It smelled of wood smoke and charred meat, the perfect storm for BBQ places. There was one dirty table (more on that later) but overall the business was clean with little clutter, at this counter service establishment.
The girlfriend arrived, and we decided not to get the sampler becuse we wanted to try the sides as well. We decided to each get a 2 meat platter so we vould try a variety of meat and 2 sides each. She went with the pulled pork (she is from Tenessee so she had to) and the dry spicy ribs. Her sides consisted of macaroni and cheese and coleslaw. I chose the brisket and jalapeno sausage with cucumber salad and fried sweet corn.
The sides were ho-hum and were really nothing memorable, other than how mediocre they were. The macaronin and cheese seemed old and sticky, but it had a good flavor. The slaw was cut too thick and the red cabbage in it had bled into the soup of dressing that was added to it. The corn was almost inedible since it was greasy and over-cooked, while the cucumber salad was drowning in an unseasoned pool of mayonnaise based dressing that had little to no seasoning whatsoever. But the meat, oh the meat.
I had to begin with the sausage. This particular one was somthing I was unfamiliar with. It was a comination of beef and pork, but I went about it with an open mind, as I am paricular to pork only sausage. It had a nice snap to the skin, and it melted in my mouth when I began to chew. The jalapeno was not overpowering, even the girlfried could eat it, and it left a pleasant, non-greasy aftertase in my mouth. Next the brisket. I was a little nervous about this one since it was not carved as cleanly as I would have liked and looked a bit dry, but I was wrong. It had a wonderful smokey flavor with just the right amount of seasoning, and it was juicy without being fatty. I would have prefered a bit more crust, or bark on the outside, but It was good, nonetheless. Then, I started into the girlfriends portion.
The ribs were fall of the bone tender but did not have a mushy quality to them. They were the dry rubbed kind, Memphis style, with a heat that was not overpowering. They were succulent but not fatty and had a pleasant mouth feel. I love a good rib and these did not disappoint. Finally, there was the pulled pork.
Pulled pork is a serious propositon in our househod. As I have mentioned, the girlfriend is from East Tenessee where pulled pork is king. The best part was that it was actualy pulled. There are some establishments that consider pulled pork and chopped pork the same thing, I am with the girlfiend on this one-they are not. It had a nice pink smoked color that screamed of slow smoking over a indirect wood fire. This pork was good served on its own, but I can’t wait to try it on a sandwich with the coleslaw that was not meant for a fork.
The meat was outstanding but it is the little things and the attention to detail that could make The Stockyard better. If you have not noticed, I have not adressed the BBQ sauce situation. There truly is not one since the sauce is served cold and on the table in both an original and a spicy variety. The bottles I had were messy and used, hopefuly from a lunch rush that had recently ended. The other detail that was actualy pointed out to me by the girlfriend was the still dirty table next to us as we were getting up to leave the establishment.
Will I go back there? Probably. Is there room for improvement? Most definitely, and with a little fine tuning and a some more good reviews The Stockyard can become a Houston establishment for years to come. Happy Fooding!