So, having been in New Orleans for several weeks now, I must say that the food has been pretty tasty so far. But I had been missing my bi-weekly barbecue fix that living in South Georgia afforded me. Not that there's a lack of 'cue down here, just that I lived in Jawjah long enough to know what particular barbecue sauce I was in the mood for, and pick a place accordingly.
So I recently had that "its barbecue time" mood, and decided it was time to taste some Crescent City Cue. Since we covet that which we see most often, my first destination was "The Joint," a literal hole in the wall a stone's throw up from the intersection of Magazine and Marengo (I think that's the cross street, anyway. Call me unfamiliar as yet - wherever the Popeye's Chicken is).
I stopped in one afternoon while running errands, parked on a side street (parking is kind of a chore in that area) and perused the menu while standing in line. It is always a good sign that there should be a line of individuals to the streetside window of a barbecue joint. It is an even better sign when there are rear ends sitting astride the painted picnic table that serves as the outside seating area for the place.
Brisket & Pork caught my eye, and if you know me, you know the first meat I ordered will always be brisket, when available. This has something, genetically, due to the fact that my mother was raised in Texas, I am sure.
So my first item was the Brisket sandwich, topped with slaw (which I will always consider Carolina style, no matter what I am told) on sliced white bread, with a side of mac and cheese. The meal was a little pricey for 'cue: $8 for the plate, no drink, and you want to leave a tip. That's a on the pricey side for me, but in the mid range for non-fast food sandwich plates round these parts.
The brisket was good, with a nice outside char and a deep smoky taste, but it was a little on the tough side for my taste. But there was a lot of it, a lot, which pleased me to no end (and readjusting the value associated with the price in a positive direction). I had to take many a slice off the bread for the sandwich to be a viable hand held delivery.
The slaw was hommade, with a hint of vinegar to it, which was a pleasant surprise. (Down in Georgia, slaw is almost exclusively cabbage + mayonaise.) The sauce was vinegar based with a bite of what reminded me of chili or jerk for spice, but was robust enough to stick with the meat when dipped. It wasn't spicy enough to be called 'hot' but it did have some noticeable warmth at the finish. The mac and cheese was more spicy than the sauce, which I found positively delightful.
All in all, it was a good meal, but the toughness of the brisket kept my personal approval of the place above average, but in the realm of pretty standard barbecue fare.
But I'm not one to give up on a barbecue place based of just one meat, so a few days later (the sauce was good enough to encourage salivation upon thinking back), I went back for the same side, same sandwich - sub pulled pork for brisket. Matter of fact, and this is important in scientific evaluations that come with food tasting: the weather was almost exactly the same (a soft drizzle), there was a similar line of barbecue fans ordering, and parking was still something of a chore. So there's a remarkably similar scene, just experimenting with the pulled pork.
What a good idea this was on my part, for the pulled pork is the goods. Same outside char, deep smoky taste, but this was some 'melt in your mouth' goodness. The pulls were big and hearty, not stringy like some places will serve you, and the texture was right where it needs to be: taking a bite instead of shoveling. Slaw was still vinegar-y, mac and cheese was still mildly spicy, and the portion was still healthy, so the place gets a thumbs up on consistency and a decided "nicely above average" appraisal on 'cue. (I know which plate I'm going to reach for next time I'm there, and I will be going back.)
Next time: a barbecue place on Tchopitoulas....
PS: If any NOLA readers (or other readers, period) know of any good 'cue houses down round these parts that I need to visit, let me know, 'cause this Georgia boy is makin' the rounds.