Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Saturday, December 5, 2009: Cooper's Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que (New Braunfels, Texas)

We’ve been meaning to make an official visit to the new Cooper’s location in on Loop 337 in New Braunfels for some time and finally got around to making the easy 45-minute drive down 35. Other than Bo, who made a stop there back in August, I don’t think anyone in our group had hit it up. We made the trek to the original Cooper’s in Llano back in January, so it was good to visit the NB location before the year’s end – so both will be in the running for our Best of 2009 awards.

Six of us made the trip, including first-timer Baxter. Overall, everyone was impressed. For me, the food seemed a tad better than what I had at the original location, but the latter has more character. Don’t get me wrong: the NB location is nice. New, clean, and sterile feeling. I pretty much drink Purell, so this, in and of itself, is a good thing. But BBQ isn’t always clean and neat, and the old building in small-town Llano just has a more authentic Texas-BBQ feel to it. And there’s no contest between the 76-mile drive to Llano out Highway 71 and the 47.5 miles down I-35. (However, a quick interstate drive was a good thing, as it gave me time to hit up a cigar lounge after the meal and still make it home in time to watch my Crimson Tide end the Gators.)

Back to the food: I had chicken and turkey, both baptized in the huge pot of sauce inside the serving pit. The turkey was pretty solid. Nice flavor and mostly soft and moist. A bite or two seemed a bit stringy but very good overall. The chicken was better. The dark meat and wing were moist and flavorful, as expected, but what stood out to me was how tender and moist the breast was. Not dry at all, as they often are. I wish I’d tried more than one bite of the beans, b/c everyone else loved them, but my one bite wasn’t good enough for me to take a second. To the reviews…

Russell’s first: “Atmosphere --- Even though Cooper’s NB is a bit cleaner, bigger and more modern, I like the original atmosphere in Llano better, with all the Hill Country deer mounts and other authentic, old timey Hill Country décor! Brisket --- Awesome well-marbled, deckle-like brisket, most definitely on par with the best of the best, like Snow’s and Louie Mueller's. Not sure how consistent Cooper’s NB will be, as I've found the original Cooper’s in Llano to be a bit inconsistent on the beef items - unlike their big pork chops, which are always superb. The meat server tentatively asked me if I wanted him to try to find me a less fatty piece, and I responded with the "fat is flavor" staple...and he totally agreed! The servers here know what a real man likes to man up on in his brisket! Big Chop --- Much like the original, Cooper’s NB knows their pork chops! Every bit as good and juicy a big chop as the Cooper’s in Llano, Opie’s BBQ in Spicewood, and Perry's steakhouse's big chops. Beef Ribs -- Awesome, just as flavorful as Louie Mueller's and Meyer's dino ribs! If they can be more consistent than the original in Llano on this item (i.e. consistently without grizzle and toughness), this tasty item has a chance to be THE item of choice at Cooper’s NB. Sausage --- As compared with the places in Elgin, just average sausage, at best. Beans --- Love their beans --- best jalapeno flavored beans ever and complimentary too! Sauce --- I'm not the biggest fan of the thin, vinegar sauce...but thankfully you don't need much sauce on Cooper’s' NB food...as their food is not designed to take much of this sauce, just a drizzle is more than enough! Overall --- Cooper’s New Braunfels location has taken most of the good things of the original - such as the unbelievable BBQ meat display that meets you as you enter - and actually managed to do the implausible and make the Cooper’s BBQ experience even better. For instance, you don't have to stand out in the cold [even though I must say that fighting the elements is part of the authenticity of a trip to the original Cooper’s in Llano], while you pick out your order of meat right off the ginormous and intimidating pit, with the big vat of warm dippin sauce right in there amongst it. The complimentary beans are still intact, and this new place captures all the old the flavors and aromas of Cooper’s seemingly even better here! Bring some great friends, and man up on the new Cooper’s NB like we did...it's a great way to warm yourselves on a cold, crisp winter day!”

Lacey, my counterpart in a lively exchange about Texas/Big 12 versus Alabama/SEC football, had this to say: “Brisket --- Delicious cuts of fatty meat! By far the best I have had during our Man up outings. No sauce required! Pork Chop --- I have never seen a bigger chop and it was very tasty! Beef Ribs --- Seasoned to perfection, this piece of meat melted in my mouth and the amount of meat on each rib was almost 3 inches thick! Amazing! Sausage --- Not much to say about this item it was very disappointing given the high caliber of the other meats. Beans --- Not bad for the ‘low low cost of free’! Sauce --- Was not impressed with the sauce, but thankfully the meat was so flavorful and moist it was not needed. Potato Salad --- Very good! I love it when potato salad is smooth! Atmosphere --- Loved the clean atmosphere and the big screen TVs! Overall --- If it hadn't been for the sauce and the sausage this visit would have been a 9.88!”

Brad writes: “Atmosphere - Being a new facility it is very nice and clean inside with an efficient checkout system similar to checking out at Central Market -- but if you’re looking for a authentic Texas BBQ atmosphere this would not be the place. Brisket - Makes a good samwhich when you get home. Beef Ribs - Salty, but dang good. Pork Chop - I was expecting this oversized piece of meat to be very dry, but it was surprisingly moist and full of awesome. Beans - Nothing special, but I like the jalapeno dropped in. Sauce - I am not one that typically uses sauce, but this thin vinegar based sauce seemed to be a perfect match for the oversized pork chop.”

Dana rounds us out: “Atmosphere --- It was very clean, yet felt like a genuine BBQ joint, and a plus plus for having Christmas music! Company - Great conversation and great banter between Lacey and Drew over Texas and Bama football!! :) Brisket --- Some of the best brisket I've had since my BBQ-rating days began. Sausage --- Not the thing to order here. Sauce --- Too much vinegar!! I would definitely return to Cooper’s in New Braunfels for another Man-up adventure!”

Russell’s scores – Brisket: 9.92; Pork chop: 10; Beef ribs: 9.99; Sausage: 8.81; Sauce: 8.94; Beans: 10; Atmosphere: 9.71; Overall experience: 9.95

Lacey’s scores – Brisket: 9.99; Pork chop: 9.85; Beef ribs: 10; Sausage: 8.5; Beans: 9.5; Sauce: 8; Potato salad: 9.95; Atmosphere: 9.99; Overall experience: 9.47

Brad’s scores – Brisket: 8.75; Pork chop: 9.5; Beef ribs: 9; Beans: 8.5; Sauce: 8.85; Atmosphere: 8.5; Overall experience: 9

Drew’s scores – Chicken: 9.65; Turkey: 9; Atmosphere: 7.4; Overall experience: 8.9

Dana’s scores – Brisket: 9.99; Pork chop: 8.5; Beef ribs: 8.7; Sausage: 8; Sauce: 8; Company: 10 (Drew: “Awwwwwwwwww.”); Atmosphere: 9.99; Overall experience: 9.95

Overall Man-Up Score: 9.454

Cooper's Old-Time Pit Bar-B-Que  on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

RP said...

Woooaaahat???? Had thunk the overall manup score mightve done better than 9.4ish on this reincarnated superb BBQ joint.