There, There's a Place
Where I can go
When I feel low
When I feel blue
I've got some exciting news for you folks. There's a new Southside or Kreuz rising in Bayside Queens! What are Southside and Kreuz you ask? Well, they're two of the legendary Texas Hill Country barbeque joints that every true barbecue aficionado needs to visit before he/she dies.
And one is rising in Bayside Queens? In New York City? How is that possible?
Well, it's a long and winding road, but nothing's impossible in NYC. Southside and Kreuz began as butcher shops and added barbecue sometime way back in their evolution to feed the migrant workers who came in for lunch. As time progressed the barbecue surpassed the butcher shop and pushed the fresh meat to the side. Actually, if I remember correctly, only Southside still has a butcher counter. Kreuz gave theirs up decades ago. It's a great story and if you want to read more about the evolution of Texas barbecue, check out Legends of Texas Barbecue by Robb Walsh. It's a good read and highly recommended.
But how is legendary Texas barbecue rising in Queens? Well, ya see, there's this guy, Chef Tom as he's called on their website. He and his brothers own a butcher shop called Three Brothers Butcher which is located at 40-21 Bell Blvd, in Bayside, NY right up the road from the train station. Chef Tom and his unnamed brothers run an old fashioned butcher shop that sells prime meat, deli meats, does some catering and sells real honest to goodness dyed in the wool barbecue. Unlike the the tepid copies or homages of the Texas markets in other parts of New York City, this is the real thing. A butcher who loves his barbeque and doesn't need to emulate anyone.
Yup, real barbecue. And it's pretty good. Chef Tom made me a BLT with some double smoked thick cut bacon that was just incredible. It's not always available, and its not on his menu, but trust me this bacon is worth the wait. Ask for it. Demand it! It's easily the best smoked bacon I've had in New York City. And don't tell me bacon isn't barbecue. Was sausage barbeque before it became a staple in the Texas Hill Country?
His brisket was excellent. Eating this I could understand some people's love for this cut of meat.
But like Kreuz and Southside, before they became Kreuz and Southside, Chef Tom's barbecue is still evolving. The smoked hot Italian sausage was nothing special and his pulled pork suffers from the fact that he doesn't have a holding pit and he microwaves the meat prior to serving it. In my eyes that fact would usually condemn a barbeque joint as just a hack, but talking with Chef Tom and seeing the love of the Q in his eyes, I'm willing to overlook it for now. He tells me that he is planning on taking out one of his cold cases and putting in a holding pit ala Fette Sau.
Talking with Tom was an experience. Clearly, this man loves his barbecue and is still learning the art. He is working his way through the New York barbecue scene and absorbing what the other folks are doing. As he learns and discovers new methods and recipes he's adjusting how he cooks. I would recommend he visit a few competitions as well. He could learn much from the teams.
A quick edit, based on an email from Gary, Three Brothers does have some limited seating and they serve their food on real plates with silverware.
Will Three Brothers approach the legendary status of Kreuz or Southside? Will Three Brothers create a new New York style of Que? I don't know, it's still too early to tell, but I will be watching the evolution closely and cheering from the sidelines. Go check him out.
All photos courtesy of Three Brothers Butcher.