Charlie's Hamburgers, Folsom, PA


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No-Bull Burger Purist, born and raised in NJ, the heart of the tri-state area and home to the oldest (and best) burger joints in the country. I don't need all the frilly toppings, happy servers or trendy decor, just a good burger...

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Hill Country, Manhattan, NYC

Hill Country on Urbanspoon
Where: Hill Country, Manhattan, NY, NY
What: Brisket sampler and other assorted goodies...
Builds: Beef Brisket, Ribs, 1/4 Chicken, Corn Bread, Longhorn Mac & Cheese, Green Bean casserole, cole slaw. 
Comment: Very cool place for ambiance, and that great smokey beef aroma hits you the second you are in the door. My Wife and I, along with my Son and Daughter-in-law went to check out Hill Country on a last minute whim this Saturday to blow off the steam of a long work week and enjoy the city. We had a blast, but I gotta tell ya, as much as I wanted this place to be outstanding, it definitely fell short. First up, the ordering process - it sucks, plain and simple.  They seat you and then give you a meal ticket. Okay, I get it, we're in NYC and you want to take us away from the sewer smells and homeless bums for a while by giving us an atmosphere of  Texas style BBQ. But a meal ticket? And no wait service other than drinks? We had to figure out what we wanted to eat from a small (greeting card sized) menu and then get up and wind our way through very closely spaced tables (excusing ourselves along the way) in an effort to get to the serving counter. Here, they politely take your "meal ticket' , slice your meat in front of  you and place it on parchment paper, then they wrap it and you move along to the "fixin's counter" where you order your side dishes in cardboard cups ranging from 8oz to something like 12oz. You then grab your over-sized cafeteria tray and make your way back through the same crowd, excusing yourself for banging the poor guy at the next table in the head with the corner of your Wisconsin-sized tray. Once you finally arrive back to your table the unwrapping begins and you get that wonderful aroma filling your nostrils with wood-smoked goodness. (I think Disney's Wilderness lodge has a patent on that smell.) Without further ado, (or any type of manners for that matter) we unwrapped our south-0f-the-border goodies. Our hunger got the best of us and the yummy noises were excessive from from the start. However, a few minutes into our feeding frenzy and our taste buds were catching up with our appetites. That's the point where reality sets in and you get a much clearer understanding of what you are eating and how it tastes vs. how it should taste. To make a longhorn story short, the ribs had enormous potential but had so much salt that they could have doubled as a salt lick for some deer hunting buddies of mine. The Brisket comes "Jersey Beefsteak-Dinner" style with slices of plain white bread and unfortunately, the meat was very dry... had I known to order the "moist" brisket for $3 more, I would have. Why an establishment would even bother to serve "dry" brisket instead of just the good stuff is beyond me. But there I was, drowning my brisket in BBQ sauce so I could choke it down. Don't get me wrong, the flavor of the meat was there with a great pink smoke ring around the perimeter, but it was just hard to swallow without some lube. My wife's chicken was actually turning out to be "best in show", it was moist and tasty and the portion was ample. The Longhorn mac & cheese was okay, (little dry) but not to my personal liking... there was a sweet spice I couldn't exactly place so that was "game over" for me. If I had to guess, I'd say it was a slight pinch of Allspice or Nutmeg (not my bag baby). The green bean casserole with it's 1950's style cream of mushroom soup and french fried onions on top was very good... (fresh green beans). The corn bread was a force to be reckoned with... it was very dense and moist with just the right about of cornmeal texture and it was served with a cinnamon infused butter, the two were a match made in heaven. And finally, the coleslaw... my wife liked it, I thought it was watery and a bit bland (because it was). Overall, a fun, different place with a nice atmosphere to try once. Once. Although I really wouldn't mind hanging there with a few beers and my friend Jim, for some of the bands... The food, - not so much. Proper wait service would have been a big plus in this cool Big Apple establishment. I totally get they want you to get the full hometown Texas BBQ experience, but geeeez, you're  really not in Texas, you are in New York and New Yorkers want to be served when they are dinning out.... you might want to cater to the regional expectation of your customer base. The desserts looked good, especially the apple crisp topped with a dollop of vanilla ice cream, (the woman sitting across from us was destroying one).  I had already met my quota so dessert was out. Overall, there's no getting around rating this food on the low side of good - 7/10 Try it out and you'll see how this review is "spot-on"....


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