Street /Grove St., SF
hearing at Chances
barbeque trial, there are many reasons to favor Brother-in-Law's over
Memphis Minnie's: old beat-up sign; wood stacked in shopping cart around
back; flies circling; Wonder bread in baggies; no neon; uninformative
menu; better name; lack of seating; never took over a dining landmark
(Spaghetti Western). Unfortunately, little of this has much to do with
meat. And that's where I think Minnie's prevails.
let me say I loved this meal. The four-way combo served in a big tinfoil
platter (like the thing you cook Thanksgiving turkey in) should awe any
barbeque fan. Filled with ribs, chicken, hot links, and brisket, the four-way
is the right way for a hungry party of three or four. You'll surely come
out under 10 bucks a person, and that beats Minnie's, which I've always
found a bit overpriced. (Note of caution: If you're dining solo, you might
not make out so cheap.)
indomitable collection of meats was slathered and bathed in a decidedly
red barbeque sauce. (You can choose hot, medium, or mixed -- we got the
mix.) The sauce has a decent kick and tasted admirable but we found the
pre-slathering a bit suspect. At Minnie's they serve your meat straight-up,
letting it make its own opening argument. If you don't quite buy what
it has to say, you can sauce to taste. And Minnie's seasoning and smokery
is so thorough that many a diner won't even use the sauce. To me, that
signals serious, religious barbeque, and I don't think Brother-in-Law's
takes meat that extra mile. Which actually works in their favor on the
brisket. When I have Minnie's brisket I wind up burping smoke at my desk
the next day. That's impressive, but...overly so. (Not to mention, it
makes me feel kind of sheepish at work.) Brother-in-Law's brisket is not
as seasoned or as smoky, but I think I'd pick it over Minnie's.
chicken was kind of dry, even when soaked in the sauce. It was fine but
nothing to do The Chicken Dance over. The links had a nice spice to them
and I really enjoyed those. I've always shied away from them at Minnie's
but these inspired me to give them a go next time. The ribs were quite
good but again a shade weaker than Minnie's, and well, that covers the
were a bigger problem. Greens lacked flavor and were a bit overcome by
water. The beans were just beans and the muffins were not good at all.
(We got the last two of the night, which might explain something.) Again,
this may be where others would say, "Ah, but it's bare bones, it's
basic and right." Well, maybe. But I like how Minnie's goes for a
little extra with their sides -- and wins.
Minnie's seems to be things a barbeque joint should not be: Ostentatious
and new, primarily. But keep in mind it's been around much longer than
it's been on Haight Street. As for the décor, I say: Hate the uniform,
not the player. In any case, try them both for yourself. The great thing
is I now know of two barbeque joints in San Francisco I'll recommend to
who doesn't enjoy a little barbeque. Well if that's the case, don't pop
on over to Brother-in-Law's 'cause you'll get a lot. Your options in combo-land
are: 2 meats/$16; 3 meats/$20; 4 meats/$25, a treat. You can fill those
combos with your choice of ribs, short end ribs (both pork), chicken,
beef links, or beef brisket.
We opted for the 4-meater
and we chose the ribs, links, and brisket with baked beans and spaghetti.
We added some greens just to fill out the meal. Also available is your
potato salad and coleslaw.
I gotta say it's not
the tastiest BBQ I've had. The brisket was good but a little fatty for
my liking. It had some of the smoky flavor you might be looking for but
not quite enough. The links were also good with a thick puddin'-like texture
and a nice flavor. The chicken was, eh, nothing special, almost too chicken-y,
maybe it was pheasant. The ribs were a bit disappointing, not bad, but
lacked any sort of BBQ/smoke taste sensation. They seem to rely on saucin'
'em up to get the flavor. The sauce was yummy though and I had no problem
sopping it up with a few slices of white bread.
The sides were there
but not much going on with them. The beans coulda used some action, maybe
some bacon or spices to get them going. The greens were bland but since
I don't eat greens maybe they're meant to be. The spaghetti was nice and
I recommend it for the change of pace. So if you're in the mood for BBQ
I'd have to say head on over to Haight Street and enjoy.
To some people, Barbecue
is a religious issue, not a legal issue. Myself included. So, perhaps
the Court should not be meddling in such affairs. But, what the hell.
It's been a long time coming, our trip to Brother-in-Law's BBQ. They seem
to be the only challenger to Memphis Minnie's in town. Which isn't saying
much, perhaps, as we all know that SF is a virtual BBQ desert. But that's
another rant. When I was a young lad just landing in San Francisco, they
called it Dolph's BBQ, in the same location. At some point Dolph morphed
into Bro-in-Law's. Go figure. Maybe this is Dolph's brother-in-law. Then
there was a charming establishment down the street called Do-City BBQ,
where they served the cue from behind Plexiglas through a drawer. Anyone
else remember that?
has a nice down-home feel to it, shack-like, with some evidence of real
wood lying around, and smoke billowing. You can smell it blocks away,
as it should be. Making it in just before the dinner rush, we were able
to get one of the two tables. We settled on a four-way combo platter of
brisket, pork ribs, chicken, and hot links. That comes with two sides
-- we took beans and spaghetti. We also added greens to the sides, and
got the last two corn muffins. All that and a Coke for me, plus tip in
the jar, and I got out of there for 11 bucks! That's cheap barbecue, brothers
and sisters. Big portions on that four-way platter, too. I suspect you
get less bang for your buck on single meat orders, but who knows?
Now, some people's
religious beliefs hold that one does not slather sauce on one's BBQ before
serving, because that implies there is something to hide. The sauce does
not make the cue, they say. I tend to agree, and prefer to control the
sauce myself. Bro-in-Law's pre-slathers, generously. Fair enough. It's
good spicy-sweet sauce, all right, but you might ask for the sauce on
the side. And, see, I think their meat kind of needs the sauce. I think
it's not in the smoke chamber as long as it might be, and needs flavoring.
Don't get me wrong, it's good, it's been exposed to smoke, but nothing
like the "low and slow" method that I worship.
Let me say now that
barbecued chicken is a waste of time unless you make it yourself and eat
it immediately when it's done. That covers that. The ribs were not bad,
but again, not really well-smoked. Without the sauce I think they'd be
even more so-so. Fairly tender, however. The hot links were good sausage,
and as I don't think they rely on smoke so much, I'd recommend them. The
star, though, was the beef brisket. That was some real soft, juicy, greasy,
smoky brisket. "Fatty brisket," perhaps. I wonder if they don't
treat the brisket right, cook it in smoke at a lower temperature for a
longer time than the rest. Anyway, get that brisket. Memphis Minnie's
serves up an excellent, thoroughly smoked brisket, but I suspect they
use a leaner cut. Bro-in-Law's brisket is greasy as heck, and that's good.
I'd pass on the sides,
for the most part. The beans tasted like canned beans with some Tabasco
and catsup added, or something, and the greens were just kind of bland.
Hard to get good greens. The spaghetti was all right, also with some hot
sauce in there. The corn muffins I suspect were pretty old, so I can't
recommend those either.
So, what you have
is some pretty good BBQ meat for some pretty low prices. I'd still give
Minnie's the nod for quality and commitment to BBQ religious principles,
but Bro's will do in a pinch, or if you're short on funds.
I guess this means
we have to head over to Everett & Jones or something.