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Restaurant Review: Church Street Barbeque and Blues

June 9, 2011

Moose and I have a very bad habit of eating at the same places over and over again. The thing is, whenever we try new things, we are reminded of why we tend to stick to the places we know and love.

Church Street Barbeque is situated at the end of a little street where an old jewelry store stood empty for several years before being torn down to make way for a whole new building. With its grand opening a little over a year ago, it’s still shiny enough to be called “That new barbeque place on Northgate.” It looks like a little hole in the wall that someone crammed into a two car garage, but don’t let it fool you. It was designed and built that way. There’s room for about five tables, and a long curving bar on the inside, plus a generous patio on the outside. It seems to be the sort of place where you get something deliciously greasy to go along with you nice cold beer while you listen to some up and coming band wail out their latest experiment and their best covers into the hot Texas night.

And it is completely possible that it might be. Unfortunately, Moose and I were not there on a hot Texas night. We were there on a scorching Texas day, trying to grab a quick bite on our lunch break.

The first person we talked to was extraordinarily helpful, letting us know which sauces had the Deadly Allergy Crap in it, and which meats were safe. After that, everything went down hill. The pork ribs I was so interested in were sold out, rather strange considering it was only noon. And when we ordered food for some of Moose’s co-workers, we discovered that my piece of chicken had been the last one. The tea had that moldy, bitter flavor that I associate with Luzianne. Whether or not Church Street is actually brewing Luzianne is something I didn’t bother to verify. I drank about half a glass before asking for a Coke instead.

The service was terrible. The guy running the food was taking orders and putting them into a computer system that he seemed really unfamiliar with. For a place that claims all their barbeque is slow cooked overnight, they were awfully slow to dish it out. On top of that, our food actually sat out at the pass for about ten minutes while the server puttered around at other tables, and poked confusedly at the point of sale system. All the while, I’m watching my cell phone’s clock tick away my lunch break and wondering if I’m going to make it back to my office in time.

When the food finally arrived, it was really not worth the wait. The pulled pork was quite good, if a bit greasy, and I tried some of Moose’s sliced sausage, which was a bit dry, but not too bad. Everything else… not so much. Our orders were mixed up for one thing. I only got one of my two sides and Moose’s sausage was actually on my plate. If I’d been allergic to anything Moose had ordered, it would have been a real problem.

The sides we did get were mediocre at best. The person we spoke to at first told us there were sesame seeds in the coleslaw. I think they were poppy seeds, Moose thought they were something else. Whatever they were, they were not sesame. Moose declared the coleslaw “okay.” The mashed potatoes were just that. They looked like someone had taken some old baked potatoes and mushed them up with a fork. They were bland, flavorless, and Moose declared that there was probably not enough salt in the world that would make them taste better. I concurred. A little butter would have gone a long way towards improving these things.

The chicken had a beautiful caramelized skin, which made it kind of amazing that it was so ridiculously bland. A thigh and leg quarter should never look that pretty and have so little taste. Additionally, the chicken had that back teeth stickiness which indicates the meat was either badly frozen before cooking, or reheated before serving. Given that it was supposedly the last piece available, it does make one suspicious as to its freshness. I didn’t even bother with the pickle and slice of bread. Both looked like props straight out of the fridge for “Sad Lonely Bachelor #5.”

From the reviews I’ve seen, some people actually find this place quite tasty. I am more than willing to admit that we probably didn’t catch them at a good time, what with it being a lunch service over the summer break. Maybe they save the good stuff for their late night bar crowd. And had it been a warm Texas night, instead of a midday lunch break, I probably would have been thrilled by their beer selection, which looked quite good. I might be convinced to go back, if there’s a good band on and I can kick back with a couple of beers. But I probably won’t be buying any more of their barbeque anytime soon. Life’s too short for mediocre barbeque.

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