Sunday, May 17, 2015

The Granary 'Cue & Brew - San Antonio

San Antonio’s Pearl Brewery District has been revitalized and re-imagined since the brewery ceased production in 2001.  In addition to being a cultural and shopping destination, the district boasts a rather proud culinary pedigree.

The Granary ‘Cue & Brew brings two traditions together by offering the high quality meals the area is now known for alongside hand-crafted house beers.

The Granary offers two different experiences depending on the time of your visit.  At lunchtime, The Granary offers standard Texas barbecue through counter service.  For dinner, the restaurant transforms to table service and the menu gets kicked up a notch with eclectic options and interesting takes on traditional meats.  This dinner list is a great example of what we sometimes label “fancy barbecue.”

After a short wait for dinner, we were seated on the patio.  I had studied the menu before this trip to San Antonio, but I still mulled over the interesting options.  The plates range from small to moderately sized portions and the menu appropriately encourages the diner to order 2-3 per person.

THE MEATS

Our main courses included the barbecue board which contained a fatty cut of brisket and some pulled pork along with beans and potato salad.  We also chose the beef clod which had some interesting descriptors attached to it on the menu.  A couple of small plates featuring smoked cauliflower and grit fritters were ordered as appetizers.

Each dish came out on a carefully chosen plate and the presentation was outstanding.  The barbecue board was served on an actual board as if I’d ordered cheese or charcuterie.

The Granary's Barbecue Board comes on a literal board

The brisket was a hefty slice with plenty of fat.  Some fat was not rendered as well as I liked which resulted in a couple of somewhat spongy bites.  The meat was still easy to chew through and this did not inhibit the flavor.  The meat had plenty of smoke and tasted good, though the salt was a bit excessive in my opinion.

The pork sat in a polite pile next to the brisket on the board.  Like the brisket, the pork featured some good smoke and was also heavy on the salt.  Smoky crust was distributed well in the meat, which was overly moist, to the extent that it nearly dissolved in my mouth.  There was no vinegary tang on this pork, leaving salt as the prevailing flavor.

The Clod is beautifully presented at The Granary

The large chunk of clod sat in a shallow puddle of caramel influenced sauce and was sprinkled with “coffee quinoa crunch.”  It was an interesting presentation for the cut of beef.  The meat was clearly well prepared with a great texture.  However, I could not get past the overwhelming sweetness from the sauce.  I did not care for the caramel flavor on the beef.  Instead of working in harmony, the caramelly sweetness wrestled the beef for attention.  It was evident that this was good meat and it would have done well with a more subtle sauce.  The crunchy quinoa was more subdued in its coffee flavor.  My complaint about this topping is that it was so crunchy it distracted from the tender cut of clod.

Additional menu options like Brisket Ramen and Smoked Pork Belly with Sweet Tea Glaze are intriguing enough to warrant return trips.

THE REST

The housemade sauce was very good and paired well with the meat.  It’s a very thick sauce which retains the shape of any meat dipped into it.  It is a very tangy and vinegar forward mixture.

The barbecue board came with sweet pickles, beans, German-style potato salad and dense homemade bread.  The sides were quite good but the baked beans were the standout for me.  The standard pinto beans were supplemented with black beans and chunks of beef.  The tomato and onion present in the mixture greatly influenced the flavor.  Our small plate appetizers of grit fritters and cauliflower were interesting on the menu but did not blow us away.  I take partial blame for this in combining two plates which typically aren’t very flavorful on their own.

The dessert list includes a “Beer & Pretzel ice cream swirl” which was certainly intriguing, but we settled for a buttermilk chess pie which hit all of the marks a chess pie can.

The Granary sits in the former Pearl Brewmaster's home

The Granary is housed in the former Pearl brewmaster’s home, making their dedication to beer even more appropriate.  They currently offer three in-house fixtures on draft in the form of an IPA, a Rye Saison and a Brown Ale along with a rotating beer, currently a Barleywine.  These brews can be ordered by the pint or in the form of a flight sampler, which will complement the sampling of meat you’re sure to order.  The Granary carries additional local craft beer on tap and has a bottle list.  And if you aren’t into beer, you can enjoy a root beer straight from The Granary’s brewery or dive into their wine list.

Brewing equipment sets a great backdrop for The Granary's bar.

The venue still retains its identity as a house.  The Granary has embraced the atmosphere a home provides with comfortable seating inside as well as on the porch.  We sat on the patio, which was dressed with five tables with bench seating and covered by a roof holding a few ceiling fans.  The bar area is a tiny but cool space that uses the brew kettles and tanks as a backdrop.  It sits adjacent to the kitchen, which also gives patrons a glimpse at dish preparation.  Inside or out, this is a great venue at which to enjoy a dinner.

The Granary in San Antonio

THE VERDICT

Dinner at The Granary comes with higher prices than traditional Texas barbecue joints.  However, it comes with an experience and menu which diverges from the norm.   Though it is not a textbook example of Texas Barbecue, there is some good food to be had.  I love The Granary’s dinner menu and the ambiance of the place.  Lunch offers the typical Texas barbecue without the offbeat flavor additions.    Dinner at The Granary is not a place to introduce someone to Texas barbecue, but a person familiar with the craft will definitely appreciate what they are doing at The Granary.




Address: 602 Avenue A, San Antonio, TX 78215
Phone: 210-228-0124
Hours: Tuesday – Thursday: 11AM – 10PM; Friday - Saturday: 11AM - 11PM
thegranarysa.com

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*All Grades Are Based Solely on the Quality of Texas BBQ Offered at the Joint. We Aren't Looking for Burgers or Catfish!

My Grading Scale:


A = This is some of the finest BBQ you'll find anywhere. It is worth a roadtrip in itself along with any required wait.
B = This is very good BBQ, even if it is over an hour away, consider making the drive.
C = This is just average BBQ but it's worth a stop in a pinch.
D = This is a poor example of Texas BBQ. Even if it's the only place around, skip it. Apologize to any non-Texans that have eaten here.
F = This is not only a bad Texas BBQ, it is probably not suitable for human consumption.

 
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