I'm standing at the counter of Railroad Barbecue in Manchaca Texas wondering if a perfectly executed missile dropkick might shake some sense into their meat cutter.The man has wrestled a virgin Brisket off the smoker and is slicing my half pound of outside slice fatty brisket but he is stressing me out cavalierly flecking the good fatty bits straight into the TRASH CAN.He glances up and seeing the look on my face[dawning horror]he asks if everything is ok."No,its not, I LIKE THE FAT"."Sorry about that I didn't want to give you too much".I inwardly muse as to whether there is even such a thing as too much fat,decide no,there is not such a thing and nod happily as he piles my butcher paper with loads of fat and bark-the good stuff.
The counter girl pulls my French Fries out of the hot fat and walks over with my tray.The Fries are gorgeous,rusty brown and sizzling hot...I don't eat sides at barbecue,they're rarely even edible and there's only so much room in my gullet and that room needs to be taken up by meat.I will however always make an exception for French Fries which are easily my favorite vegetable.
At table I begin to chow.The French Fries are unbelievably good.Perfect actually.They have come from a potato whose only processing was cutting,soaking in ice water and frying[twice].If you're a lover of the humble potato they don't get a whole lot finer than the ones at Railroad.The Brisket is good.It's been properly smoked but has no trace of salt...none.I love a good Brisket that's been packed in salt for a few hours[or days]prior to cooking.The menu trumpets their sausage as a "proprietary blend" which typically means they've given their recipe to a meat manufacturer,maybe Smokey Denmark and hoped for the best.You know the cats at Blacks and City Market don't worry about proprietary this-n-that or outsourcing one of the primary ways a smokehouse proves their mettle.They get up in the morning bright and early and fire up the grinder and get down to the business at hand.
But I digress.
The Sausage is ok.It tastes like a lot of other second tier Barbecue joints,neither good nor bad,just kind of there.The sauce is wretched.I dip a Fry and damn near spit the whole thing out.It is filled to the rim with liquid smoke,one of the banes of my existence.It is not edible,has not been edible and will never be edible.I have a brief nightmare-ish fantasy of what may have happened had they drenched my meat in this stuff...snap back to reality,shake it off and go on eating.
Atmosphere is quite nice.The floors are old,oiled hardwoods and there is a nice view of busy 1626 out the front window.A teevee is blaring away in the corner which is to be expected.There are people in this world who like to eat and watch television,there are jail cells filled with people who've committed crimes both less and worse,I reckon.
Railroad Barbecue has been around a good long time.They have a Fish Fry on Friday night,all you can eat Catfish,which is one of the few buffets where I can do any good.I can power through a good 5lbs of Cat if it's hot and they keep on bringing it.I make it down to Manchaca every couple of years and Railroad is a good eating option if you're down around that way.They're not going to vie for supremacy in the Central Texas Barbecue Wars anytime soon but they do a respectable job of bringing the meat to the table.