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PBR Lockhart's

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Barbecue is big business!  The arena in which franchises compete is for gladiators that are willing to financially flex to put on the best show.  A venue with just great food isn’t enough.  Patrons want dinner and a show, some sort of amusement that will tickle their fancy while indulging their palettes.  Who can blame them?  The culinary world is ultra-competitive and having a brand is more important than ever.  What’s their differentiator?  What makes them stand out from other barbecue joints, or even restaurants in general?

Big brands have an established identity and a fan base.  That star power makes venturing into the murky waters of an associated industry easier to justify.  If you’re an expert in one category, surely you must be an expert in another.  Or perhaps two brands cooperatively flexing their muscle impressions observers exponentially.  This feels like the rationale behind PBR Lockhart, a high-end barbecue experience in Huntsville that combines amazing food, games, atmosphere, and the names of two Texas-rooted brands.

Professional Bull Riding is one of the most popular sports in the western hemisphere outside of the Big Four (that’s football, basketball, baseball, and hockey).  The courage and grit to climb atop a whirling ton of muscle is unmatched in athletic competition.  It’s the “go big or go home” mentality, plus PBR riders are just bad-acres.  Take that reputation for awesomeness and combine it with a legendary barbecue franchise, and you’ll take people on a ride they’ve never made before.

They say everything’s bigger in Texas and PBR Lockhart goes big with a western theme that’s as blatant as the mechanical bull in the corner and subtle as the bartender’s cowboy boots.  When the bay doors are rolled up there’s an openness worthy of the lower 48’s largest state and it sets the stage for the vast portions and flavors they wrangle onto each plate.  This is a joint that caters more to adults than families, so plan accordingly.

Being a Southerner through and through, I’ve doubted that brisket can be a tasty cut of meat.  This place changed my mind.  I always thought the fat had to be melted out of meat to get it truly flavorful.  Brisket needs that thin fat ring.  It keeps it moist and adds great flavor.  I have to get past my aversion to the texture of fat, but for this brisket I’ll do anything.  Tender, juicy, and everything else I’ve been led to believe brisket could be.  No need for sauce with this version.  Just use your hands and eat it as-is.

Thanks to my friend and native Texan, Chris Munson, we were treated to a little bit of everything.  Chris made sure our party of three got to experience the majority of the menu.  I can’t thank him enough for his generosity.

I learned a lot about brisket at this meal.  You need that thin layer of fat to keep the brisket moist and flavorful.  With pork, I want the fat cooked completely out of it.  How much you retain of the rendered fat affects the flavor and the moisture, but chewing fat is not fun for me.  This brisket delivered on every note I’d ever anticipate about brisket.  Smoky, tender, fall apart goodness that opened my eyes to the goodness Texans swear by.

The pork ribs had a great rub and didn’t need any sauce.  The smoke flavor and spices were enough to keep me picking at them even after I was stuffed.  I peeled the meat from the bone with my fingers and continued to nibble until my schedule caught up to me.  But they were meaty and tender and begging to be finished.

The sausage had a fine grind and a very thin casing.  It practically fell apart, dispensing a smoky, salty mixture that was mild in flavor.

When it comes to Lockhart’s sauce, spice is everything.  It’s a thick brown sauce, heavily spiced and earthy.  It had a wonderful tang but you have to enjoy Worcestershire as it has a strong presence in the blend.  I found it to be too much but the heavy spice on all the meat kept me from missing it.

The sides were abundant with their own twist.  Baked beans that were tender and spicy, Brisket Potato Salad that was meaty and creamy with a hit of heat and crunch from finely chopped green onion.  Try either of the two types of slaw, Blue Cheese Slaw which is creamy, crunchy, and cool with just enough of that blue cheese funk, and Siracha Slaw in a creamy base with pepper flavor but not all the heat.  While all the flavors go big, so do the prices.  Be prepared to pay a premium and order everything a la carte.  While that can be tough for some of us simpletons to swallow, everything sure tastes good going down.

Bonus points:

Order at counter

Self-serve Coke fountain

Sports on TV

Sauce on table

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