Thursday, January 7, 2010

Thursday, December 3, 2009: Lamberts Downtown Barbecue (Austin, Texas)

Russell and a couple of attorney friends hit up Lamberts for a weekday lunch. (It's our first official review of Lamberts, though many of us have been before.) Here are their emailed reviews and scores:

Russell: “Pulled Pork – They had some very tender pulled pork – some of the best in town in fact – but I found myself needing to put quite a bit of their delicious house sauce on it, to enhance the moisture. Brisket – Lamberts has a tender well-marbled, coffee-rubbed brisket, that is almost as tender as their pulled pork. Quite a feat really. Pork Rib – Mine had pretty good flavor, but was a bit dry and crisp on this day. Sides – Beans and mac & cheese both very tasty, as Mike indicated they would be. Overall – For those interested in a more upscale atmosphere, convenient-to-downtown BBQ joint, Lamberts does the trick in a unique, one of a kind style. It’s a trendier, fancier atmosphere, with more of an interesting twist on Texas BBQ, than that which I am accustomed; however, I really enjoyed all the items which my attorney colleagues Mike and TW recommended. Lamberts really is a good, quiet place for a nice lunch meeting with civilized meat eaters.”

Travis: “Brisket - The brisket at Lamberts is consistently my favorite of their offerings. The brown sugar and coffee rub provides subtle flavors, and the meat is always very high quality. The brisket is not ropey; it is tender, moist, and marbled without being overly fatty. In short, the brisket is really good. Pork ribs - The pork ribs have a nice sweet and sticky sauce that forms an almost-crunchy crust on the ribs. This provides a very nice texture contrast. However, the quality of the pork was weak compared to the brisket, as it was a little too fatty. Sides - I had the collard greens with bacon and the macaroni and cheese. The collard greens were good, but almost nothing is bad with bacon. The macaroni and cheese, which is normally fantastic, was a little off--it had an odd flavor that seemed like it didn't belong. Overall - Lamberts serves an interesting foodie take on BBQ, billed as ‘fancy barbecue.’ We went for lunch, which is limited compared to the dinner menu, which has a larger selection of smoked meats (e.g., quail and rainbow trout) and grilled steaks. Lamberts is great, but this particular meal wasn't excellent.”

Mike: “Pulled Pork -This is the best thing at Lamberts, especially at lunch. Great flavor, good texture (not too dry, not too moist), and spiced in a way that allows folks to kick it up with sauce but lets others who don't want the heat still enjoy it. Brisket - The brisket is a strong second at Lamberts. I have had it over 10 times and it is very consistently flavorful, tender, well marbled, but I am still convinced the ‘coffee rub’ doesn't do anything for it other than let them charge a buck more a pound. Pork ribs - The pork ribs are okay, especially on days/nights when they have a crunchy crust, but they are a bit sweet for my taste and I am still hacked off that they took off their beef ribs, which were much less sweet with a bit of a kick, but apparently not enough of a crowd pleaser as these cotton candy ribs. The quality of the pork rib meat is nothing to write home about, which is surprising given how much care they take in delivering consistent meat quality on the other items. Sides - The mac and cheese is a consistent performer at lunch and dinner and the beans are solid also. One of the best parts about dinner at Lambert's is that they have a wide range of very tasty sides, including some items they make better than most - among them brussel sprouts (something I would not eat if they weren't so damn good there). Overall - By my measure, this is the best 'fancy barbecue' joint in Austin when you factor in three things that matter to me (but might not matter to everyone). Those factors are: (1) location (there just aren't that many downtown BBQ places worth visiting, so supporting Lamberts is important for those of us that need a place in close proximity to downtown/the Capitol to entertain clients and Legislators; (2) live music (the upstairs of Lamberts is a great live music venue and we simply don't have enough quality BBQ joints that are also good music venues; (3) patio seating (when the weather is nice in Austin, there is simply no reason to be sitting inside, so I give Lambert's high marks for having a patio seating area where they serve lunch and dinner). Lunch isn't bad at Lambert's but its strength is dinner for two reasons: many more smoked meat and side options at dinner and that is when the music is playing.”

Russell’s scores – Brisket: 9.15; Pork ribs: 8.65; Pulled pork: 9.45; Sides: 9.2; Overall experience: 9.22

Travis’ scores – Brisket 9.25; Pork ribs: 8.23; Sides: 8.51; Overall experience: 8.83

Mike’s scores – Brisket: 9.25; Pork ribs: 8.01; Pulled pork: 9.5; Sides: 9; Overall experience: 9.25

Overall Man-Up Score: 9.1

Lamberts Downtown Barbeque on Urbanspoon


Natanya said...

It's great to see that you all feel like Lamberts is a decent downtown option. When we have clients and partners in town they often ask to have BBQ but it's not usually practical to leave downtown. We even had our company party at Lamberts and they did a great job. I'm partial to their wild boar ribs, which isn't technically BBQ I know, but tasty nonetheless.

Drew Thornley said...

I wasn't on this particular outing, but I have been to Lamberts once before. I had the wild-boar ribs and, like you, thought they were tasty. Not much meat on them, but nice flavor and texture. A little crispy on the outside (with a nice glaze), which I like. I ordered the pulled pork, which I thought was excellent. Enjoyed all of their sauces. Not your typical Texas BBQ joint (probably why we haven't had a big outing there - well, that and the price and the parking), but they do a great job with their fare.

Drew Thornley said...

Glaze or drizzle or sauce or whatever is on them