Sunday, October 31, 2010
Roosters Texas Style Barbecue and Steakhouse
123 12th Ave North
If there is ever breaking news inside Roosters it will be well covered by the staff of the nearby Tennessean newspaper. During a recent lunch it seemed that half the building had spilled out, replete with ID badges, and settled into the wide variety of tables and mismatched chairs in the long, saloon style brick and plank floor room. The other item of note this day is the number of patrons: 30 at 11:30 a.m. And the sex of those patrons: 29 men and exactly one, very understanding woman. You gotta love barbecue.
Roosters looks like a barbecue and beer joint, from the tin pressed ceiling to the wood fireplace in the middle of the room. Rooster Beane moves around that room making sure that his joint is doing right by customers. The smiling, hustling wait staff seem well up to the task. It may be a bit confusing to explain the history of the Bean (or Beane) family and barbecue in these parts. His brother, Aubrey Bean, ran Judge Bean’s Barbecue on the same street for a few years before moving it to several more locations. Rooster Beane has been tackling smoked meats at Mickey Roos in Franklin for the last few years. We don’t have enough time or space to get into the different spelling of the last names and why Roosters doesn’t have an apostrophe in the title on the menu or the building.
Let’s get to the meat. You get a welcoming whiff of the smoke when the plate hits the table. The big feature is beef brisket and it comes served in careful slices and a well seasoned rub. The smoke is there and yet this batch is a bit overdone and dry. The good news is that the ribs are excellent: tender, with a balanced smoke and peppery rub. It would be a shame to put any sauce on these beauties. If you do indulge you’ll find a tangy mild sauce without much depth and a truly spicy hot sauce that will get your attention. It’s a Texas style joint so there is no pulled pork on the menu.
Chicken does well at Roosters and the quarter is a pretty piece of cooking, rubbed nearly black and with a good smoky flavor. The chicken wings are also well smoked and you can decide between the fryer and the grill for the finishing touch. I went with grilled, and the more delicate cooking method left the wings juicy. A little longer on that grill might have added a bit of char, which would have taken them up a notch or two. The tangy wing hot sauce will give your lips a nice burn.
The onion straws have much in common with heroin- simply addictive. The super-thin onion rings should be a part of any meal at Roosters. Shrimp Diablo doesn’t fare as well, primarily due to construction. The shrimp is skewered by a toothpick with a piece of bacon and a fairly hot jalapeno. Cheese smothers the creation and the overall result is a little odd- spicy and odd. The mac and cheese is also a bit of a mystery. I like a roux based mac and cheese and don’t mind if it’s light on the cheese. This version seems to be peppered macaroni with only the slightest indication of any cheese at all. Not good.
I must admit that I did not order the two most talked about menu items. I don’t like eating calf’s testicles, so I opted out of the Texas Calf Fries. They did look intriguing coming to a nearby table. I also did not partake in the Big Roost 72 ounce sirloin, which perhaps is just a meaty beacon to attract the overstuffed dude from the TV show Man vs. Food. If you eat the damn thing in an hour it’s free. If not prepare to fork over $70. They do have more manageable sizes of filet, t-bone and rib eye. Baked potatoes, quesadillas, a burger and a brisket sandwich are just a few of the other menu offerings.
It would be a shame to just eat lunch here, because the long, old fashion bar seems like a good place to hoist a few beers and have a good time. Just remember- get the onion straws and behave, the person next to you could be a desperate reporter on a deadline.
I paid $20 with tax and tip for a huge plate of food in the trio sampler. I paid $16 with tax and tip on the other visit.