Tag Archives: Patty Melt

Austin Day 2: Kreuz Market

It’s raining in Austin again today so we plan to do a little driving and exploring. Sun is promised for tomorrow and so is the Texas Marathon. But today, brunch will be at 24 Diner. This hip eatery is busy on Saturday and parking is hard to obtain. Once inside the wait is 15 minutes. We are seated and order drinks and peruse the menu. The interior is not diner-like at all but more hipster/industrial.

24 Diner on UrbanspoonThe menu has all the diner classics but refined and many healthy non-dinerish options. I order the Pork Belly sandwich that is reminiscent of a bahn mi with cucumber, mint, serrano and pickled red onion. Sides are ordered separately and I was intrigued by the menu option: vegetable of the day. I expected the usual bland selection of broccoli, carrots, or cauliflower. Today’s veg was brussel sprouts sauteed in a skillet. Sign me up! I love sprouts. The sandwich was good, the baguette perfectly chewy and the pork belly surprisingly meaty. The mint, serrano and cucumber were not evident and that was a little disappointing. The sprouts were awesome! Charred and sweet.

Rob ordered a patty melt with fries. The melt came nontraditionally on sourdough, but it was perfectly toasted on the flat-top with the pre-requisite fried onions and swiss cheese, combining for a creamy, sweet, sharp foil for the burger. Rob’s a sucker for a patty melt.

After lunch we headed over to the nearby Whole Foods store, perchance to dream. This Austin location is the flagship store and well… as a someone who shops for food in Ottawa…completely depressing. The selection is amazing.

A little tired walking the aisles? Stop here and have a craft beer. *sigh*
Our daughter Hannah always requests meatloaf when asked for dinner suggestions.
Raising the candy apple to an art form. The choice of prepared foods is staggering.

Kreuz Market (pronounced “KRITES”) in Lockhart has been on Rob’s radar for some time. It is one of the oldest and most traditional examples of Texas BBQ. We spent the afternoon cruising around in the inclement weather stopping here and there for a picture. Lockhart is about 40 minutes south of Austin and is considered a bit of a Mecca for BBQ enthusiasts. On the way to Lockhart, Rob informs me that he is not certain I’m going to like Kreuz. Why? Well…its hunks of meat and no sauce, and no forks. But there are sides right? Hmmm…crackers and pickles…maybe potato salad. Okay, I’m pretty sure I already hate this place. I don’t care about its iconic status. Oh well, I’ll grit my teeth and take one for the team.

Kreuz is huge. The woodlot out back is the size of your average supermarket garden center. When entering you are oddly accosted by several of those rip-off “claw and capture a stuffed animal” vending machines. Advance warning, parents. Further in the line up to order begins. Selection is small – two varieties of sausage, brisket, beef and pork ribs, smoked ham special today. Ordering is done at a central counter where you pay as well.

The ordering room contains several large smokers and open fires with hot burning logs. The clerk takes your meat orders only. She calls it out directly to the aproned, blackened cutter immediately behind her who slices your brisket and ribs. She weighs it and the cashier rings it up. It is bundled haphazardly with several slices of white bread in several layers of butcher paper and handed still open to you.

At this point you continue to the next ordering phase in the main dining hall. Here you have a few limited choices for sides including sauerkraut, German potatoes (roasted and steamed), mac and cheese, coleslaw and several pickle selections.

From here you find space at a table and spread out your meal. Kreuz also does not provide forks. Plastic spoons and knives and fingers. That’s it. We ordered the brisket (fat), pork ribs, a sausage, mac and cheese, sauerkraut and bread and butter pickles.

Normally we don’t order the brisket because it is too dry and strong tasting. This brisket however was amazing, moist, tender, flavourful, pull apart delicious with a delicate smoke. It was truly fantastic and I would never hesitate to order it. Like no brisket I’ve ever had. The pork ribs were good, very peppery, tender. and had a nice rosy deep smoke ring. They however could have benefited from a sweet Memphis BBQ sauce. Blasphemy, I know. Texas is about the meat but I am about the sauce. The sausage was very unseasoned and dull – perhaps because we were expecting a spiced Texas hot link and it turned out to be German-style sausage. Again, sauce would have rescued it. We ate most of the meal wrapping the juicy brisket in white bread with the crunchy sweet pickles. Heaven.

The sides are fine. Coleslaw is crunchy, creamy and tasty. The mac and cheese is overcooked pasta in day-glo orange cheese sauce and is awful in that perfect, excellent way. The thick ridge cut bread and butter pickles are the perfect foil to the fatty meat. On the whole Kreuz was an awesome Texas BBQ experience and well worth going out of your way to try.

Kreuz Market on Urbanspoon

 

 

RT6: Jackson to Tupelo & More Elvis

We get up early to get a start on Tupelo. We have just one night here and want to have a little time to explore before setting off to Nashville. It is a cool 84 degrees at 9:30. By the time our day ends at 5:00 it will be 106 degrees. I cannot imagine being forced to toil in a field picking cotton in this heat. Brutal! Time to gas up and put some drinks on ice and hit the Trace for the second day. We have planned a few stops today on the Trace: The Reservoir Overlook, Cypress Swamp and the Bynum Mounds.

We encounter the overlook almost immediately and enjoy the pretty view. The reservoir is a sparkling body of water that borders the Trace for a time and breaks up the greenery nicely. There is more traffic on the Trace today and more maintenance workers. We also encounter more animals…deer, horses, herons and wild turkeys.

Our next stop is the Cypress Swamp. The swamp has a trail around it that takes 15 minutes to walk. A couple from Minnesota is just leaving and then we are alone with only trilling insects, birds and gators that are hiding from the heat. The bald cypress and tupelo trees are magnificent, tall and majestic. The swamp water is covered with a plant material, the colour of pale jade that literally illuminates the area. It is quite beautiful.

We continue on our journey, passing well maintained fields, forest and hay bales. The Park Service allows the fields to be cut for hay. Soon we are looking to have lunch as we skipped breakfast to get on the road. Stella 3000 is being a jerk today, trying to get us to turn into a ditch. Every once and awhile she tries to see if we are paying attention. She eventually gets us into Kosciusko, a cute little Mississippi town that barely registers a blip on the map, where we are going to get lunch at Rib Alley Restaurant.

Rib Alley is hosting a Rotary Club meeting in the front so we are directed to the back section near the kitchen. The restaurant is decorated in “early re-purposed rec room bric-a-brac” with crucifixes and mardi gras beads thrown in for good measure. We are offered menus or the buffet, which is comprised of chicken spaghetti, green beans, butter beans, corn, baked ham and vanilla cake. We opt for the menus. We both order from the “Customer Sandwich” list which is favorite sandwiches from certain customers. I can’t resist ordering the Smitty’s Canadian Melo, because it doesn’t sound very Canadian, some half-sweet iced tea, and Rob orders Jay’s Slide.

Lunch takes a moderate amount of time to hit the table as it is being prepared fresh. Both sandwiches arrive with hot, crisp, well made krinkle cut fries. My melo is a fried fillet of chicken with tomato, iceberg lettuce, American cheese, bacon (not Canadian back bacon) and ranch dressing on white bread that is cooked on a flat top in butter. It is grilled dark with a carbon-butter crust that is lightly crispy and buttery but not greasy. It is a great sandwich. Almost like a club/grilled cheese. Rob’s slider, compared  to a patty melt by our server, comes on Texas toast instead of rye, cheese whiz instead of Swiss, onion and a flavourful homemade beef patty. Not really a patty melt but still a really good sandwich. Good, honest, home cooking like your mom would make.

Rib Alley on UrbanspoonBack on the road again we stop at the Bynum Mounds at mile marker 232. These Indian mounds were built during the Woodland Period between BCE 100 and CE 100. Two mounds have been restored. Mound A contained the remains of a woman and the cremated remains of two adults and a child. Mound B housed a log-lined crematorium and the cremated remains and unburned remains of several individuals, along with copper spools and projectile points made with non-native materials, indicating a culture that included long distance travel.

We leave the Trace at mile marker 260 and enter Tupelo, back into fast food strip land. We check in to our home for the evening and head out to explore a little Tupelo. First stop: Elvis Presley’s birthplace, coincidentally located on Elvis Presley Drive. The tiny, two-room, shotgun house built by Vernon Presley is preserved and open to the public for a fee. Elvis was born in the house on January 8th, 1935. The museum on the property has free admission.

…in all its glory. Can’t you just feel the “King of Rock and Roll” vibe emanating from it? Me neither.

Next stop on our mini Elvis tour is Tupelo Hardware Store, “coincidentally” located a few doors from a guitar shop Rob wants to check out. Tupelo Hardware is where Elvis ‘s mother bought his first guitar for his 11th birthday in 1946.

Dinner tonight is also on the Elvis tour. Elvis spent a lot of time in Johnnie’s Drive-In growing up and as a young teen. The drive-in looks pretty much as it must have back in the day. We chose the Elvis Booth as it was unoccupied. This is where he is said to have spent his time. The eatery, decorated in early- and mid-Elvis is small, boasting just ten tables, two counter stools, two tables on the patio and carhop service.

The menu is presented above the kitchen on magnet boards. I spy a pimento cheese on the board. I really want a cheese burger but I am intrigued by this southern specialty. We decide to order one to try and share. I get my cheeseburger and onion rings and Rob orders a BBQ sandwich and rings. The pimento cheese is a satisfying grilled sandwich containing of all things, cheddar cheese with pimento, shredded iceberg lettuce, tomato and mayo.

My cheeseburger is a basic, classic simple homemade beef patty on a soft white bun, with processed cheese, lettuce, onion, and pickles. $1.29. Rob’s BBQ sandwich comes on the same white bun and is filled with house-smoked, coarse-chopped pork shoulder, a small dab of BBQ sauce, mustard, tomato and onions. It’s good pulled pork – a flavourful, substantial, easy-eating sandwich. The rings were decent and the service was awesome and super Southern friendly.

BBQ sandwich from Johnnie’s.
Cheeseburgers for $1.29. Really.

 

Sitting in Elvis’ favourite booth!

Johnnie's Drive In on Urbanspoon