I’m pretty sure I can’t eat anymore. But for some reason, I keep testing out that theory in New York. There’s so many places to try, old favorites and new ones, that it’s hard to stop. But when I found out a friend from Australia was in town, as well as my Frenchman in tow, when faced with the task of choosing a place to go. So I suggested Texas bbq, which surprisingly, everyone was up for it. Including me.
Barbecue people are pretty rigid about what constitutes good bbq – the type of meat, the rub, the sauce, and the cooking – are all points of contention. But I’ve never heard anyone say a disparaging words about Hill Country Barbecue…even though it’s thousands of miles from Texas (or Kansas.)
I’ve sent some open-minded French friends here on their visits to New York and although the food is served on butcher paper and meant to be grabbed with both hands for maximum (and correct) enjoyment, they’ve loved it all the same. Unlike the fast-food outlets that are transplanted outside of the United States, which are often all they see representing American dining, barbecue is really something that’s part of the best – and most unique aspects – of America.
Gnawing on a mega-sized beef rib that was generous enough to feed three of us, and then some (when I ordered three – one for each of us – the counter person said, “I think you may just want two”, and when she weighed one and it was over a pound, and cost $29.75, I agreed), we three from different corners of the world, took part in the great American pastime of stuffing ourselves silly.
Romain was rolling his eyes over and over, and finally said “I’ve never eaten beef this good” which is partially due to the fact that the best American beef is usually aged (French beef generally isn’t, and can be chewy) and visitors come here and rave about how good the meat is. Midway through the meal, he pronounced it the best meal he’d had of the week.
Of course, to go alongside, I ordered some typical side dishes. I had to translate what corn pudding was (maïs gratin?), green bean casserole (haricots verts en surprise?), corn bread (which is made like a cake, but we call is ‘bread’, so if I called it gâteau de maïs I don’t think they would have let me order a few squares), and cole slaw, which although doesn’t exist in the same incarnation in France, was the easiest to explain as salade de chou.
Luckily le doggy bag exists, which are far as I know, is something pretty unique to America as well. Yet we didn’t have to make use of one as surprisingly, my friends from France and Australia made hay of the meal, while l’américain had to beg off helping them with the rest.
Hill Country Barbecue and Market
30 West 26th Street