A while back, during an eventful night out, Jessica and friends tried to stop by Hill Country Hill Country, a barbecue joint in Flat Iron. However, they left due to high prices and long lines. Last night, I went back with Bill, Sal, & Steve, knowing we would have to face those issues.

The setup is supposed to mimic an old school Texas restaurant where the food is picked up by patrons at various stations and where meat is sold by weight.

Weighing Brisket Moist

Meat is handed over, wrapped in paper, on a plastic tray with cheap metal tableware. The meat ranges in price up to $22 per pound and can be purchased by the slice or rib. There is also a combo for $25.

Bill's BBQ Plate

Sides are at a separate station (as are drinks and desserts). There are cold and hot sides, as well as breads, spreads, and miscellaneous (avocado, onions, etc.). They range in price up to $5.50, although you can buy larger amounts with quantity discount.

Sides Station

The restaurant wasn’t too busy, yet it was very loud and every step required waiting. The single upstairs bathroom (shared by men and women) had a line. The meat station had a long line. The sides station had a short line. All the while, someone has to hang out at the table, to ensure no one takes your table or personal belongings, especially concerning since tables are grabbed at will by patrons. This process is awkward and inconvenient for eating at the same time as friends.

I tried to pick a good sampling: a single Beef Rib, two Pork Ribs, some Brisket Moist, some Beef Shoulder, a Jalapeno Cheese Kreuz Market Sausage, and Corn Bread. I also tasted the Mac & Cheese, and the Corn Pudding.

Pile of BBQ

Meat items include bread or crackers.

Brisket and Bread

Generally, the food is decent, especially in Manhattan, where BBQ is mediocre at best. The Brisket Moist was the most enjoyable, although so rich, I’m glad I only had two slices. The Pork Spare Ribs were pretty good as well, I enjoyed how they tasted of pure pig, but if there was a rub on it, which I’m told there was, it added little to the taste. The Beef Rib had nothing to offer, I’d pass on that if I were you.

Sal and I agreed that the sausage didn’t have much flavor at all, but left a good heat in our mouths from the jalapeno. Finally, the Beef Shoulder was just off tasting to me. There were three items on the table (in addition to paper towels): sweet barbecue sauce, which was just sugar with no other taste; hot sauce, which tasted like any cheap hot sauce (think: Frank’s, but not as good); and salt & pepper.

So the entrees were boring. The sides? About the same. Average corn bread. So-so Mac & Cheese. Nothing was bad, but nothing was good either.

How about the desserts? Ding Ding Ding… we have a winner! We tried three desserts: the Banana Pudding, the PB&J; Cupcake, and the Pecan Pie with Bluebell-brand Vanilla Ice Cream. At $6 each, they’re reasonably priced, especially because any one of these could be shared. They’re not huge, but they’re rich.

The pudding was served with Nilla Wafers both in the pudding and on the side… just as any good banana pudding should be served. It also had a good amount of fresh banana in it. The pudding is absolutely perfect. Period. The best I’ve had in Manhattan.

Banana Pudding

The PB&J; Cupcake is quite sweet. The cake is filled with jelly and topped with peanut butter frosting — yum! To make it better (yes they found a way to improve that), they topped it with Reese’s Pieces and crushed nuts. It’s great.

Hill Country PB&J Cupcake

The Pecan Pie was okay, but nothing special. Fortunately, they topped it with good vanilla ice cream.

Hill Country Pecan Pie

While the prices are a bit high, they’re not outrageous, if you don’t go overboard. My soda was $3 but served in a huge mason jar. The food was fine, but nothing special. There is not much service to speak of (they do check up on you for drink refills regularly). And the cheap tableware leaves a metallic taste in your mouth.

If you want BBQ and you’re in the area, walk a few blocks down and over to Wildwood. It’s about the same price and similar style in the restaurant. But much better service, somewhat better food, and real plates and tableware. Plus NO LINES.

posted by Lon at 01:35 PM Filed under American and New American, Restaurants. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.