Monday, May 23, 2011

A Sampling of Vitek's Barbecue - Stick with the Gut Pak

The Good:
  • decent ribs
  • newly furnished interior

The Bad:
  • sub par brisket, sausage, and sauce
  • extremely slow service

     Vitek's is known primarily for its "Gut Pak," their take on a Frito pie.  They do the Gut Pak very well so we were excited to try their other offerings and check out their newly expanded building.  We should have stuck with our gut (pak).
Vitek's new interior
     We went around noon to Vitek's on a Monday when Baylor was not in session and as expected the crowd wasn't too overwhelming.  Nevertheless, we had to wait 30 minutes from the time we ordered to get our food. The lunch rush has always slowed Vitek's down in the past, but now they have two lines and the wait was longer despite the fact that many Baylor students weren't in town.  The interior of the restaurant was large and well furnished.  We counted at least 15 hdtv's mounted to the walls.  It was impressive but it didn't feel like a barbecue restaurant, it felt like a Chili's. Vitek's has also added some non traditional, "upscale" takes on their barbecue - brisket tacos and pulled pork nachos in a seeming effort to appeal to those outside the usual barbecue fair. All these aspects aside, the important thing is the barbecue.  Our ratings (summary and average of reviews on a 1-10 scale) are as follows:

Brisket - Overall Grade: C-

  • Tenderness/Bite: (7) The meat was not mushy and had a decent amount of chew without being tough.
  • Juiciness: (6) The meat was moist without being greasy or slimy.
  • Meat Flavor: (3) The meat was bland and uninteresting.  We noted that it had a generic lunchmeat taste.  It was not "beefy."
  • Smoke Flavor: (3) Very light smoke taste.  It would be difficult to notice if we weren't looking for it.
  • Bark/Rub: (2) No crust to speak of or noticeable difference between the inside and outside portions of the meat.  No chili pepper or salt flavor.
  • Sauce: (3) The sauce was very generic.  We all agreed that it was just a step up from ketchup.  Slightly acidic and slightly sweet with a little black pepper flavor.
Ribs - Overall Grade: B-

  • Tenderness/Bite: (7) The ribs were tender and pulled away from the bone with a decent amount of chew.
  • Juiciness: (7) The ribs could have been a tad more moist.
  • Meat Flavor: (7) The ribs had a good meaty and salty flavor.
  • Smoke Flavor: (7) Smoke flavor was highly present, accompanied the meat well, and was not overpowering.
  • Bark/Rub: (7) The outer portion of the ribs had a good black pepper and salt flavor and a good chew, almost like a tender beef jerky.
  • Sauce: (3) Same sauce as brisket

    Other Comments: Vitek's smokes their barbecue with Hickory wood.

    Wednesday, May 11, 2011

    Review Format for Ribs and Brisket

    In order to effectively review Barbecue Restaurants and do our best to avoid personal preference and biases, we will rate spare ribs and brisket on a 1-10 scale on the following attributes:

    • Tenderness/Bite:  Contrary to popular belief, "fall off the bone" is not the definitive level of tenderness for barbecue.  The meat should easily pull apart but it should not be mushy.
    • Juiciness: The barbecue should have a healthy amount of rendered fat without being excessively greasy.
    • Smoke Flavor: The meat should have an appropriate level of smoke flavor but it should not mask the other flavors or be so excessive that bitterness is tasted.
    • Meat Flavor: The flavor of the meat should not be entirely covered by the extra flavors (smoked, rub, etc..) at play.  The quality of the cut of meat will play into this rating.
    • Bark/Rub: Barks should form a flavorful crust without being too crunchy, tough, or burnt.
    • Sauce: Sauce should compliment and not define the barbecue.  Attention will be given to review a particular sauce within its style (sweet, vinegary, ketchup based, hot, thin, etc...) to avoid personal preference.