Gavin Cleaver, resident English guy, weekly eats his weight in smoked meat for City of Ate.
After my meal at Dickey's, my experience of BBQ chains has been bad, and thus I set out to slaughter the Spring Creek Barbeque in Lewisville. I realize that makes me a bad reviewer, but please let me continue. Dickey's carpet-like brisket still haunts me. Drier than a thousand sand dunes, like a plain cheese cracker made out of meat, it forms the low point of my barbecue reviewing by so far that to compare it to other places I could have gone to is like comparing the recent Tron movie to the old Tron movie -- it kind of looks the same, but by the end you're convinced you could have paid tribute to the superior version better yourself.
The venue is pleasant enough. I think it felt more realistic than Dickey's, but then there are probably more realistic interpretations of Texas in Lebanon than you'll find in a Dickey's. Anyway, I wasn't there for the venue, I was there for to-go barbecue, the solution for the hungry Texan with a busy lifestyle and limited patience for a lack of meat (I have the latter, not the former).
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I know with to-go you get the happiness of eating at your own home, but the car ride back really is torture. Someone needs to do something about that. My driving and eating skills are so poor I don't bother (I am a bad Texan) but this just means that by the time I get home my ancient car's usual smell of mildew and petrol (yes, petrol, gas is what you call any substance that is neither liquid nor solid) has been replaced by an intense smell of beef and sauce. And, in this case, FREE BREAD. I am easily sold on free bread. It's the only real reason I went to Texas Land and Cattle more than once. It doesn't cost much for a restaurant to provide, and if it's good it makes you happy inside. In this case, three entire small loaves. That's a lot of free bread.
I still felt like I was about to eat more terrible chain BBQ meat, though. The cheap to-go boxes. The questionable looking sides. The sad, grey brisket. But I was very happily surprised. Brisket and sausage plus two sides and rib plate plus two sides was about $24, so not exactly cheap enough to warrant fast food, as per my previous complaint, but this was light years better than Dickey's. The ribs were actually verging on very tasty indeed. Even the brisket tasted like it had once heard about a smoker, nay, maybe even had a passing fling with one, one summer long ago. It's not great, but it's not at all terrible. It's the limbo of barbecue places. The Tottenham Hotspur* of brisket. The Nintendo Wii of ribs and sausage.
In even better news, I have finally found the point of sides. You purchase them as a distraction tactic for those who may otherwise be eating the meat. With the wife distracted by a baked potato, of all things, and the stepson intent on mac and cheese, I was free to be the only successful person in the whole house, and by successful I mean eating a rib. By this metric, I am a hugely successful individual.
*Editor's note: He's talking about soccer again. British. What can you do?