We apologise in advance for the lack of pictures. This was a last minute adventure. We’ll just have to go back again!
No fuss. No muss. No frills. Fabulous food. That’s what you get from Hill Country. Hill Country is a mostly self serve restaurant in the Chelsea/Flatiron section of Manhattan. Texas BBQ in the heart of Manhattan. Fork and Spoon have been here a number of times, and will be back many, many times. This is the first time since we began chronicling our adventures.
As you first walk in there is a small bar area that is usually so crowded that you can barely walk up to the hostess station. The entire space is open, lots of tables. You are shown to your table and handed a card that sort of looks like miniature golf score card. You can order drinks from the waitress, everything else is cafeteria style. The iced tea is not only bottomless, but it’s served in Ball mason jars. Not small Ball jars, mind you, but quart Ball jars!
One station has all the meats. There are pork and beef ribs, boneless prime rib, beef shoulder, pork chops, sausage, chicken, lean brisket and – what Fork and Spoon consider perfection on a fork – moist brisket. The meats are all fantastic. Everything is fresh. Because of the high turnover, nothing has a chance to sit around and dry out. All the meats are smoked low and slow over Texas post oak which is stacked against the walls all over the back of the restaurant. All the meats are sold by the pound and served on butcher paper.
Fork and Spoon have tried most of the meats, but the moist brisket is what we dream about, what makes us come back again and again. This past trip we ordered a pound – to start. It was gone in minutes. If you ask the fellows who slice the moist brisket to order for the end pieces they are more than happy to oblige. (And ladies, if you smile at them, they usually add a few extra pieces onto the paper AFTER it’s been weighed!) You order, they slice and wrap, you hand them your card and they mark down what you ordered. There is white bread and crackers at the counter for those who feel the need, but Spoon and Fork don’t want to waste a single bit of appetite on anything but moist brisket.
Well, except, perhaps for sides. There is a separate station for sides. There are a number of sides, both hot and cold and all good. There are also some raw produce too – avocados, jalapenos, tomatoes, pickles, and onions. Fork and Spoon have a number of sides that have become favorites. Campfire Baked Beans made with burnt ends. First, anything made with burnt ends is just yummy. The baked beans are thick and rich. They are so flavorful and rich that it eats more like a chili than baked beans. The other side we always order is White Shoepeg Corn Pudding. Fork never liked corn pudding before coming to Hill Country. This is not to mushy. The corn is still crisp. The filling creamy. The top slightly crunchy. Oh, and definitely order the Skillet Corn Bread with Ancho Honey Butter – this last visit the butter was very sweet and not a hint of ancho anywhere.
We would try to describe the rest of the sides but there are so many to choose from, we’d be typing ’til our silver tarnished.
Dessert! How can we have an adventure without dessert. As with meats and sides, there is a separate section for dessert. There are 9 different desserts to choose from – all made on premises – well, except the Blue Bell Ice Cream which is a product straight from Texas. We decided this trip to share a dessert – might have had something to do with the SECOND pound of moist brisket. It was suggested to Spoon that the pecan pie was the best around. Ok, twist our arms. The Bourbon Pecan Pie was great. Slight background taste of bourbon. Very caramelly and sticky. The filling which can at times be too sweet and goopy was more like caramel in consistency.
Because the space is cavernous, the din as it fills up can be a bit much.
Only one downside to this visit, we flagged down one of the usually very attentive servers to ask for hot tea only to be told ‘I wear an apron, I can’t get it for you’ and he walked away. Huh?
Once you’re done eating – or gorging as the case may be – you take your score card to the cashier and pay. They have jars at the counter for tips for the wait staff.
There are special menus for football days that include wings, quesadillas and nachos. There are now recession specials – Monday all you can eat for $25 – 5:00 to 10:00 and live music; Two for Tuesdays, 2 for 1 drink specials and live music; Thursday night is Ladies’ Night, light beer and mixed drinks discounted; and Fork’s personal favorite – Feed Yer Family Sundays – from 4:00 to 10:00, they have trivia and name that tune, for $20 they serve you brisket, a pork rib and a beef rib, 1/4 chicken, 2 sides and dessert!
Just typing this Fork can hear singing – brisketbrisketbrisketbrisket – must be Spoon letting Fork know it’s already time to go back!