I hate people who are not serious about their meals. -- Oscar Wilde

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Hill Country NYC

Om Nomz Hero Note to Self: mason jarred drinks, food on Butcher paper, was Texas style ‘cue the OG of hipster dining?

First time I had anything from Hill Country was during the Big Apple BBQ block party and it started drizzling/raining and we ran for cover, the Hill Country trailer was right there. Even though we tried not to hit up any of the New York vendors, we decided to try the Hill Country Brisket and glad that we did. I decided to go to Hill Country for real this time and Mr. Wells giving it a respectable 2 stars, why not?
Hill Country is modeled after any Texas ‘cue place that I am hoping to experience Labor Day weekend when I venture to Austin. The only formal service you will get is the host bringing you to your table and from there, you get a place card and you have at it. The inside borders a bit on tacky, it is going for that Texas salon look and I was hoping there was a Swayze impersonator. Thankfully, they do not do the weird Lonestar/Roadhouse restaurant crap of peanut shells all over. Despite the Crapplebee’s inspired décor, the tables are pretty Spartan; do not expect a place mat, just a fork and a knife and water served in mason jars, no doubt just trying to keep up with the Brooklynese trends. 

This is all you need, for 'cue...and maybe just life

The table just had a roll of paper towels, hot sauce, a shaker of salt/rub and their barbeque sauce. There barbecue sauce in my opinion was too sweet for my taste, heavy on the molasses but apparently Rick Perry declared it the best outside the state of Texas but let’s be honest here: if he did not specify best outside Texas, he would be done politically. 

Bottom right clockwise: shoulder, sausage, brisket and rib
No matter really, the place is keeping with Texas tradition in which it is counter service and ‘cue is served by the pound. Think of it like a deli, where you can order as much or as little as you want. If you want sides, you go to another counter and get them there, and desserts are at another counter. It somewhat reminds me of a buffet, with getting up and down but the food is a heck of a lot better. I love it that it literally keeps with Texas style ‘cue in which all the meat is plated on butcher paper with a bunch of white bread or saltines and thrown onto a tray. Just wait, give it a few and you will be going to a Michelin star restaurant and they will be serving something on butcher paper. Here is the run down:

Brisket, Moist- Meat from the point of the brisket, it is moist because it is fattier but hey, fat = flavor and the brisket was nice and moist. It was tender, but not pot roast tender that it is falling apart which is good, you want it to be able to stand on its own but the use of a knife to break it apart should not be necessary. The meat had a good enough flavor that it really did not need sauce, maybe some Texas Pete hot sauce if you want some heat.

Brisket Lean- this is the cut that you get pastrami from, has fat just a lot less. Unfortunately, we got some end bits that were just dry, but the lean pieces that were not from the end were fine. I would stick to the moist bits in the future.

Sausage- from Kreuz Market in Lockhart, this was filled with jalapeno and cheese. It is a beef and pork mix, ratio unknown but I could probably look it up. It was juicy and a great snap, not to spicy, I think I would get two of these in the future.

Beef Shoulder- Also known as beef clod, something that should not be missed and the best thing on the plate, it was juicy and had a nice fat striation on the top side and left me wishing I got a half pound instead of a quarter.

Beef rib- was excited for this but ended up being the biggest let down, it was tough and chewy and did not have much in flavor. If I want ribs next time, I will go pork.

Although I see sides as a waste of meat real estate space in your stomach, the sides at Hill Country were pretty good overall:

Mac and Cheese- ziti pasta, it was in a thick and creamy cheese sauce, emphasis on the thick. I prefer the my Mac and Cheese with a runnier béchamel sauce but this was respectable, a little hot sauce helped.

Collard Greens- a winner here, the greens were tender and had a lot of potlikker on the bottom, good for dipping cornbread

Cornbread- It was slightly sweet, so I guess it would be classified as “Yankee” cornbread. Tender crumb and served with an awesome honey butter, I would get this again.

Deviled eggs- on a hot day, these are refreshing, actually these are just good. The egg filling was like eating a savory buttercream.

Finally, no ‘cue experience would not be complete without a staple dessert of banana cream pudding. The pudding was full of banana goodness and the only criticism is that some of the banana pieces were a bit too hard, the pudding needed another night to soften up the bananas, but I am not really complaining because we did finish all of it.

Overall, I like Hill Country. It is a great place to hang out and most of all, it is comfortable. This would be a great place for any group outing, just make sure most of them like meat or they will be picking at the sides.

Hill Country
30 W 26th St
New York, NY 1001

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