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Saturday night at Gus's Barbecue

Will Owen | May 19, 2008 01:51 PM

Went to see a friend of ours in Ray Bradbury's stage adaptation of his "Fahrenheit 451", and since it runs for two hours we wanted somewhere nearby to eat after 10:30. A closing time of 11 wouldn't leave enough time, which pretty much meant Gus's was gonna be it - OK with us, since we'd been wanting to try their new incarnation anyway. We asked our friend and her SO to join us, and got there at about 10:40. Just in time, too, as it turns out the kitchen stops taking orders at 11 - it would be nice, I think, if they'd say something about that in their publicity.

Anyway, we were hungry and thirsty, and started off with a Key Lime martini (sic!) for Mrs. O, a Cosmopolitan for the actress, a Coke for the SO and a glass of very nice zinfandel (from the "BBQ Worthy Reds" block of the menu) for me. We all ordered sandwiches: in the same sequence as above, they were a pulled pork, a Cajun grilled fish, a Gus's Famous hamburger and a Beer Braised Texas brisket. I seem to recall that everyone else got the regular fries, but I had to try the sweet potato variety, which were very good. We'd finished off the drinks by the time the food arrived, so Mrs. O continued to blaspheme against the Holy Martini by ordering a pomegranate one, our friend another Cosmo, and I tried the carmenere - not so swell as the zin, but decent.

The sandwiches were very well received; I didn't get bites of anyone else's, but they were obviously being deeply enjoyed, as was mine. I love ciabatta buns for burgers and things anyway, and these were even better than the fine ones I get from Trader Joe's, with a somewhat crunchier crust, and a crumb that was both perfectly tender and resistant to soaking or sogginess. The brisket was remarkably tender, too, with a good beefy flavor and a not-too-sweet sauce, topped with a big layer of excellent coleslaw. We all agreed that the pickles that come with the sandwiches were unusually good, too.

The tab for the table was about $104, which our very friendly waitress then offered to split for us when she saw me doing arithmetic on a napkin. Our share, with a 20% tip, was $64 plus change, more than we usually spring for sandwiches but well worth it. The space and its amenities have been hugely improved without losing any soul in the process, the service was good if sometimes distracted - I had to go find our server to remind her about our request for water - and the fare was all better than satisfactory. Some people at an adjacent table had ordered regular meals, which came on great big and showy white plates and generous portions. We'll definitely want to be taking ourselves and some more friends there - the menu isn't huge, but it all looks really good.


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