Saturday, June 16, 2007

Ben's Long Branch BBQ - Austin, TEXAS

I am just not happy. I thought I was on a neighborhood roll. Most of the restaurants around my little eastside Austin home have proved to be good if not great …East Side Pies, Gene’s and Taqueria Chapala just to name a few. So when I went to Ben’s BBQ, it was like someone kicking me in the gut...literally. Located on the corner of 11th and Branch, Ben’s is easy to find with plenty of parking both behind and on the street.
Now, I took the time to read some online reviews and most were written before 2002 or just after Ben came back from his early retirement in 2004. I guess the folks that had leased the joint between 2002 and 2004 attempted to run the restaurant into the ground, and very nearly succeeded. But now that Ben’s back, business has picked up and things seem to be running well. So, when I read a Dale’s Table blog post from 2004 with Dale recommending the pork butt …what is a carrot to do but dive right in and go for the recommended best.

Before I go any further, I must tell you that I went back twice and tried the pork butt both times. I felt that I just had to be fair and make certain that I was not mistaken with my first experience. Señora Foodblog didn’t encourage this, but I had to just know for certain if my gut feeling was mistaken. I know that Andrew Zimmerman (Bizare Foods) would agree with me.
On my first visit, I thought the pork was great, juicy and smoky good. I even liked the sauce, which was thin and yet had great flavor. Sadly about three hours after my lunch I got very sick. Bad stomach cramps...need I say more. Ok I thought, maybe something else got me. Among my friends, I am known for a cast-iron stomach…I eat everything. That’s why I am a Food Adventurer.
The second time I visited Ben’s, the place was full with the lunch time meat-eating mob. I even spotted Bob Cole from the Sam and Bob Show lurking in the crowd. He too was at Ben’s for the pork (you are welcome to make your own jokes at this time). Anyway, I again got the Pork Butt plate to go and headed home to eat in the peace of my little house. OK, the pork was dry, and tasted like bacon. Gross! Very sad…I can cook better BBQ than this. I was very disappointed indeed. And while I write this, I am hoping that I don’t get sick and command a repeat performance of my first visit. The Pork Butt plate with 2 sides, bread plus tax… $8.65.

Señor Foodblog says One Spoon Down. Sorry guys, the pork butt is a no-no for me. I can’t remember such bad BBQ, or getting sick after eating at a BBQ place. Not even in Alabama (land of the worst BBQ in the world) did I get sick or dislike the meat so much. I am certain that I will go back to Ben’s and try the brisket and sausage in the not-to-distant future. I am just a little frightened off Ben’s for now. I think I will stick with Sam’s BBQ or Lewis’ as my regular eastside BBQ stops. Sorry Ben, I tried twice.

Ben's Long Branch BBQ
900 E. 11th Street.
Austin, TEXAS
512 477 2516

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Friday, June 15, 2007

Gene's New Orleans Style Poboys & Deli - Austin,TEXAS

Never fear – your Orange Food Avenger is back and ready to eat. After a short time off, I am again ready to travel the food super-highway, seeking tasty treats, great service and easy parking. And what better place to start but one of East Austin’s corner-stone eateries, Gene’s New Orleans Style Poboys & Deli, located on the corner of East 11th and Rosewood, next door to the Long Branch. Parking is not a problem, with a lot in the back and plenty of room on the side of the street.

To tell you the truth, recently I have found myself addicted to the cold Roast Beef Poboy, small orders of fries and a can of icy cold root beer for only $7.40. Not a bad deal indeed. The large sandwich is served on a crusty French style loaf with pickles and some sort of crazy secret voodoo spread. Wooo, oh yea baby, this food make me a happy carrot. But Gene’s has a lot more to offer than just sandwiches. As a matter of fact, Gene’s may be one of the very last Blue Plate Specials served in Austin. Smothered pork chops, jambalaya, red beans and sausage and home made fried chicken (cooked without the skin) only add to this restaurant’s loyal and dedicated following. Gene tells me that he thinks he may be one of the only places around to serve Fried Chicken on demand, and man is the chicken good. The best part about eating at Gene’s is that you never know who will be sitting at the table next you…maybe even the Governor of Texas… Mr. Rick Perry.

Gene also tells me that he plans to add a second floor to the space. Rumor has it that Kevin and the guys at the Long Branch may also be thinking the same thing. Hmmmm…

Two Spoons up. I just love Gene’s. The chicken, oysters, sandwiches and the green beans are just wonderful. Now if I had to say any thing bad about Gene’s, it’s that it is a small operation and orders move slowly, for some this may be a bad thing but I always give myself a little extra time when I plan a visit. Check out the web site for complete listings of the Blue Plate and do yourself a favor, try the chicken.

1209 E.11th
512 477 6600 – Phone orders welcome

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