Saturday, January 5, 2013

Review: Spring Creek Barbecue

More than a few folks I know in real life or online make recommendations to me of places to try.  Some of them turn out to be local places--hidden gems that need to be discovered by the public at large.  Others are more average regional chains that, while aren't bad, don't really stand out for me and aren't what I consider blogworthy.  Still some have a great family or story behind them that helps separate them from the pack, and that's my lead in for Spring Creek Barbecue, recommended to my by Chris Vaughn.

Per their website:
Founder and CEO Chris Carroll is proud of the growth of Spring Creek Restaurants, a company he started in 1980 with one Spring Creek Barbeque location, and which now includes 42 restaurants and an award-winning catering team. He welcomes your visits at Spring Creek Barbeque, Mexican Inn Cafe, Casa Rita's Mexican Grill and Shady Oak Barbeque & Grill. The company is growing, and excellent employment opportunities are available. Chris believes that our company's greatest strength is its people, and he and the Spring Creek team are dedicated to providing an excellent dining experience for all our guests.
Spring Creek has largely been a Dallas-Fort Worth Presence until recently.  When I researched them and saw they were based in DFW, I bristled because a couple of so-called Dallas "Barbecue Experts" (I use that term VERY LOOSELY) came to Houston and disrespected a number of our home-grown barbecue joints, saying the ribs weren't "creamy" enough.  This caused huge laughter nationwide in BBQdom, as anyone who knows a darned thing about barebecue knows ribs are supposed to have bark and a smoke ring, are supposed to be savoury or smokey, maybe juicy, sweet in the meaty sense and tender, even a little fatty, and spicy if seasoned as such, but are NOT supposed to taste CREAMY--unless you're dipping them in Ranch Dressing--and why the HELL would you do that?!?!! In any event, I know better than to judge all of the folks from the Metroplex on a few dumbasses and Cowboy Bill Lamza, and I made a stop at the Hwy 6 & Little York location near Addicks this past week.

Usually the first time I visit a barbecue joint, I will try their brisket or their chopped beef sandwich if it's based in Texas.  Brisket is Texas's definitive barbecue meat, though pork and beef ribs and sausage--especially of the Czech, Mexican or even Cajun variety are also part of the superfecta here.  As a big fan of pork ribs, and someone who worked with a friend who was a welder to temperature tune a hondo pit to properly smoke ribs, I felt that Spring Creek needed a challenge and if their ribs and sides passed my muster, then I'd give them another shot.

Their menu included many of the usual choices you see in any decent BBQ joint--Beef, Ribs, Sausage, Chicken, Ham and Turkey.  Spring Creek describes their ribs as "slow smoked over hickory, then charbroiled for extra flavour."  Ok.  I was hungry, and after walking through this Texas kitch cafeteria style line, I was ready to eat.  I will say that I felt they gave a very good deal on their dinner platters--you got a generous serving of meat (5 very meaty pork ribs) with all you care to eat side items--which included fresh baked yeast rolls, corn on the cob, country green beans with bacon, pinto beans, macaroni & cheese and cole slaw.  You also get free refills on your beverage, which is nice for those of us on a budget.  I went with the Mac & Cheese and Country Green beans with bacon for my first two sides and worked my way through the ribs.

The ribs had a smoke ring--good.  The ribs were tender, juicy, a little chewy and easily separated from the bones--good.  They ribs had the sweet meaty nature I'd expect from pork ribs.  The ribs had a smokey, black peppery flavour, but were a bit milder than I would normally care for.  The sauce was also a little sweeter and not as spicy as I'd normally like, but it was still pretty good.  For those who have trouble with spicier barbecue this would be excellent, and overall it was pretty good.  The Mac & Cheese and the green beans were quite good, and I really liked the buttery fresh yeast rolls.  A lady circulated with a basket full every now and again and offered more, which I appreciated.  Round two, I tried their cole slaw, their corn on the cob and their pinto beans.  The corn on the cob was fine--I smeared some butter on it, though I kind of wanted some Tony Chachere's Creole seasoning to add to it (nothing personal, I normally add that stuff to my corn on the cob at home).  The Cole slaw was quite good--creamy as cole slaw should be.  The pinto beans were a little mild for my taste.  Again, they might be good to other folks, I'm just accustomed to eating spicier beans.

The kitchen and dining area were quite clean.  The staff was friendly and service in the cafeteria style line was smooth and efficient.  I also visited the men's room--it was clean and well maintained.  Overall a good experience and if a group said "Hey, want to go eat at Spring Creek Barbecue?" and it was clear they were set on it, I'd say "Ok!"  and have no issue with it.

Report Card for Spring Creek Barbecue: 
     Pork Ribs: B+
     Green Beans: A
     Mac & Cheese: A
     Yeast Rolls: A+
     Corn on the Cob: B
     Cole Slaw: A
     Pinto Beans: C+
     Speed:  A
     Friendliness: A
     Dining/Kitchen: A
     Men's Room: A

Overall Grade: B+

Spring Creek Barbecue has 10 Houston area locations. I went to the location at:
935 Highway 6 North (at Little York)
Houston, TX 77084-1835
Phone (281) 345-0326

Sunday-Thursday 11am-9pm
Friday-Saturday 11am-10pm

And Remember to Eat Happy, Y'all!!!

Spring Creek Barbeque on Urbanspoon

2 comments: said...

We enjoy Spring Creek. The one closest to us is right by our gym, which makes it an easy and reasonably healthy post-workout alternative if we order smoked turkey or chicken, both of which are quite good. The kids love the hot, fresh bread.

Try the peach cobbler next time -- with a scoop of Blue Bell vanilla, of course!

Annie said...

That Spring Creek location is near my house, so I've been there a number of times. It's really decent for a chain restaurant, and I actually prefer it to other local chains like Pappas BBQ or Goode Co.

I second the recommendation for their peach cobbler a la mode. Mmmmm.