Thursday, February 7, 2008

Ironworks BBQ

100 Red River St
Austin, TX
(512) 478-4855

I don’t know about y’all, but when I’m sick, whatever healthy diet I’m on goes out the window and all I eat is comfort food. And whenever I do get sick, I generally let myself eat whatever I want and however much I want, justifying in my head that my body needs more calories when its fighting off some germ. Plus, my illness these past two weeks has been a horrible sore throat. All veggies and fruits were too acidic and burned my throat. All meats were too salty and burned my throat. So for these past two weeks I’ve been essentially on an all-carb diet. In the morning I would eat oatmeal. For lunch I would have toast, or a couple of challa rolls, or croissants, etc. For dinner I would ice cream and cake or cookies or something suitably sweet and carby. And for snacks in between I would eat dry cereal. Seriously, for two weeks I’ve been living off carbs. So when I started feeling better earlier last week, what I was most excited about was eating meat. Lots and lots of meat (and to a lesser extent fresh produce). Anything that wasn’t a carb. So when my date Friday night suggest we hit up Iron Works BBQ I readily agreed. I was hungry. Hungry for meat (sorry Laura).

Since this was a first date we met up at a nice neutral place, Moonshine, and had a few drinks at their back bar. Now, I’ve been to Moonshine several times now, and had no earthly idea they had such a nice patio and bar. Not, I’m not talking about the crowded bar by the front door that everyone usually hangs around, I’m talking about the wood even scented cozy stone accented bar next to the patio. It’s a really nice place for a first date drink, FYI. So after meeting up and determining this guy wasn’t an ax murderer (he brought me rice crispy treats, how not ax murderish is that?) we decided to walk down the street to Ironworks for dinner. It’s tucked away next to the convention center in a little strip of land bordered by Waller Creek and Cesar Chavez.

The first thing you notice is the crazy Texas Hill Country décor. The building looks like a shack that was ripped from an 1880’s western. There are well worn hardwood floors, benches, booths, wrought-iron decorations, stainless buckets of sodas. And the place smelled amazing. Like the wood smoked meaty smell had permeated into the hard wood floors. I felt like I was inside a charred oak whisky barrel and was loving every second of it.

We opted to try a little bit of all the meat. A quarter pound of brisket, a quarter of sausage (yum!), and a quarter pound of turkey. We also went with some potato salad, cold slaw, and a big fat banana pudding for dessert. Now I know what you’re saying, my dad and I have this discussion every time we eat BBQ. Potato salad and cold slaw aren’t traditional Texas BBQ sides. According to my father, nobody in old school Texas ate anything with mayo in it until recently (i.e. when the fridge was invented). You know, back in the dinosaur days. But we’ve advanced as a society and its perfectly acceptable to have mayo laden sides with our BBQ.

The BBQ itself was good but not exceptional. The turkey was well smoked and had a very nice flavor, but it was not the tender smoked turkey I have had at other BBQ joints. The brisket was rather dry and not at all noteworthy. What was really nice was the sausage. It was nicely smoked but not too spicy. It ended up being a nicely subtle fusion of Texas BBQ flavors. The sauce at Ironworks is tasty too. It’s not a spicy, powerful sauce you might find at Rudy’s. That’s one of my big BBQ pet peeves - sauce that’s way too strong or spicy. It It’s instead a nice central Texas blend of mellow spices to make a fine sauce that would never overpower a well smoked meat. The potato salad and cold slaw really won’t that great. Lacking the flavor and texture you’d like out of sides. And the banana pudding was downright awful. I think they used banana extract in it since it was so overpoweringly fake banana flavored.

But that was ok. Despite the slightly lacking quality of the BBQ the company was fabulous. Turns out my date is quite the foodie also. There were slightly pornographic references to 8 course Thanksgiving dinners and I believe he made a reference to “chargers” (the plates not the sports team, but then you’re all foodies and knew that). After the BBQ dinner we made our way to Alamo Ritz for a fun evening of Spike & Mikes. A wonderful first date if I do say so myself.

Bottom Line: OK BBQ in an authentic building.. on Cesar Chavez… Stick with the sausage.

Mariah - 7