Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Jacob reviews Casstevens Cash & Carry (Lillian, TX)

There is a small little gas station out in Lillian, Texas that not many people stop by. Where is Lillian you ask? Well it isn't that important. Let me just say that if you are coming here, you are doing to it just to try the BBQ, because I'm mostly certain nothing else is going on in that town but farming. If you are headed to Casstevens however, you just made a good call, because this place has three important things; character, Blue Bell ice cream sandwiches, and good BBQ.

Typical run down store and gas station hide what is going on in the back corner. A nice little set up of a couple of refrigerators, sink, big cutting board, large serving counter, and a few tables are noticeable but don't stand out from the outside. I knew what I was coming here for, but if it weren't for the lingering smell of smoke from the outside you would never know BBQ was cooked here as the pits were hidden from view. Now it is true that many small town locally owned gas stations also have a food counter in them, and many of them also sell some form of BBQ. What is all too common, however, is that the food from those counters aren't to much to brag about. That is not the case in Lillian.

I had planned on my all too typical meal. Brisket (fatty of course), pork ribs, and sausage. Sadly ribs are only served on Fridays, and this being a Saturday afternoon I was out of luck. So I was left with picking a different meat to replace ribs on my 3 meat plate and asked for suggestions from the server and a regular standing at the counter. I was told to get ham by one, and turkey by the other. As I only had room for one, I started to figure which I would rather have, but instead inquired about the sausage. On learning that while it is good, it is also a store bought brand (true they may cook it perfectly, but in my mind it will still only be mediocre unless you are making your own), so I decided on both ham and turkey. I almost had a hernia when I saw what happened next. They took a few slices of smoked turkey and ham out of the refrigerator, and placed them in the microwave. I was in shock. I was more in shock after finally tasting however.

Both the ham and turkey had amazing full smoky flavor. they were still moist and didn't taste at all like they had been microwaved. They cut the meat into long stick like slices that were a perfect thickness. The outside on the turkey was a sweet smoky glaze that tasted like it just came off the smoker. The ham had a heavy glaze that was a bit less sweet but a much better flavor. Both of these meats were terrific and a great surprise. Brisket was cut a bit to thick, but had nice color and a beautiful smoke ring under the crust. It was very flavorful in each bite and the fat was rendered beautifully. Bark had a great pepper and spice smell and taste that protected the meat inside perfectly. Strangely I thought it was just a bit too chewy and didn't fall apart easily, but still tasted great (I think it may be more a quality of beef issue, as it was cooked perfect and had perfect flavor.)

Side of beans was also a good touch. It had bites of chopped up sausage in it and a good spice kick to it. Potato salad was decent but nothing to special. BBQ sauce was very thick and had a bit to much Worcestershire sauce flavor in it for me, but went well with the bread dipping in it. I finished off the meal with a blue bell ice cream sandwich and paid my bill, which came in at under $10, a very respectable and fair price for the amount of food. This was a nice stop and I will try to be back one day for the ribs, even if it is completely out of my way.

Brisket: 7.5; Ham: 7.25; Turkey: 8; Sauce: 4.5; Beans: 7; Blue Bell ice cream sandwich: 12; Atmosphere: 8; Overall: 7.25

Casstevens Cash & Carry on Urbanspoon

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