Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew 6610 N. Lamar Austin, TX 78757
The Mueller family BBQ dynasty up in Taylor, TX seems to be largely connected to most new BBQ happenings in Austin. First, prodigal grandson John Mueller re-opens his BBQ on S. 1st St, and he in turn was a mentor to Aaron Franklin, BBQ’s hottest new superstar.
Now comes the newest addition to the ATX BBQ scene, Stiles Switch, who are betting on the talents of pit master Lance Kirkpatrick – yet another protege of Mueller BBQ.
The restaurant is brand new and as such still has a way to go to achieve the soul and atmosphere of an older BBQ joint. Although neat and clean, it felt very much like the BBQ version of a Hooters, lots of wooden tables and flat screens displaying sports shows. Maybe even some paper towel on the tables would give it a little oomph?
In the meat department, Stiles Switch offer brisket, three types of sausage, beef and pork ribs, turkey, chicken, pork shoulder steak and a couple of sandwiches. That’s a pretty well rounded menu by BBQ accounts, a little something for everyone. They also have a great range of sides and desserts, and as you would expect all the bread, pickles and onions you can eat are free. Interestingly, they do not have sauce on the tables, and we had to go back up to the counter and ask for it. It was served warm and kinda chunky, ladled out into a foam cup.
Stiles Switch offer a large selection of beer, including bottled and draft, and I did spy an “oil can” of Fosters in the beer fridge. I asked the server about it, and he admitted that it had been there since opening and would likely remain there unsold. I, for one, was completely unsurprised and promptly ordered a frosty High Life to complement my meal. FYI for the non-Aussies- hardly anyone drinks Fosters in Australia, and the large “oil can” format was a marketing ploy invented purely for the American market. Just so you know.
I’m quite the fan of Stiles Switch’s sides which include mac & cheese, beans and coleslaw.
We settled on the potato salad, which as it should be was mustard based. Great flavour, excellent consistency.
We also chose the corn casserole. Literally, it was a roux/bechamel mix with corn, salt and a crap load of cheese. As you would expect from the combination of ingredients, it was delicious, albeit a little heavy for a side.
As for the meat? Well let me tell you now, it’ll be a cold day in hell when I order poultry in a BBQ establishment. Make no mistake, for me it is ALL about the bovine.
The brisket looked great as it was being cut, although I’ve never been served brisket sliced that thickly. I believe that it was Lance working behind the counter, but it was a younger guy who was actually doing the cutting. Then a funny thing happened on the way to the table… As you can see from the photo, the brisket developed a fairly severe dry crust on the exposed area. Now, this does happen with time, but I (nor my dining partner) had never seen it happen in the space of a few minutes. The flavor of brisket was solid, but we just couldn’t understand why it had dried out so dramatically, and unfortunately this did affect the overall experience.
We also selected the beef rib, probably my all time favourite BBQ item, and again I was a little disappointed. Compared to JMueller’s life-altering beef ribs which I had eaten two days prior, these were “not bad”. The ribs were as marbled with fat as they usually are, and as such were not as tender as they might have been. This is the kind of beef rib that makes first timers wonder what all the fuss is about.
I did have higher hopes for BBQ of this pedigree, particularly as they are one of the few places who are actually open for dinner. I can see a great deal of potential, and hope that the issues we experienced with our meat were largely due to teething problems.