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Chef Edwards Update: brisket

  • r

At lose ends in downtown Oakland at lunchtime yesterday, I decided to swing by Chef Edwards for some bread pudding, and to try the brisket, and what the heck throw in a Piggly Wiggly. Then I decided what I really wanted -- feeling self-indulgent because of my ongoing but hopefully now resolved root canal problems -- was dim sum.

So I'm sitting at my desk chowing on the Piggly Wiggly for lunch and the brisket became dinner. The brisket was juicy, slightly fatty and falling apart into strings tender (just right for my post-root-canaled mouth), and the sauce and the meat went together perfectly. I ordered the sandwich portion and my choice of sides was the candied yams, which were richly sweet. The little drops of yam syrup trickling into the meat just added to the flavors marrying happily in my mouth.

Maybe it's time we had a SF Area Barbecue tasting like the one they had in LA. We could argue over 'cue and pass the hat for Chowhound. I might even host if people are interested.

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  1. Sign me up! I'm looking forward to trying out the various Bay Area 'cue places when I come back next week (I've only been to E&J). One of my winter vacation plans was to explore LA barbecue more, but I just ended up going to the Pig again. Oh well, summer will be 'cue-filled, I expect.

    1. I would love to get involved in a <cue tasting. I've been looking for good 'cue in this area for a while and have been disappointed in general. I've tried E&J, Big Nate's, and a place on Geary near Filmore (Jim's?), and found them all ok at best with Big Nate's being the best. Ireally miss Dr. Hogly Wogly's Tyler Texas BBQ in Van Nuys, and go there whenever I get to LA.

      8 Replies
      1. re: jaweino

        Just wondering if you have tried Memphis Minnie's on Haight Street? I don't claim to be a 'cue authority, but I sure like their brisket. There have been prior postings about Memphis Minnie's on this site.

        1. re: DavidT

          Thanks for the input. I just read about Memphis Minnie's in the Chowhound archives a few days ago and plan to try it ASAP.

          1. re: DavidT

            i finally made it to memphis minnie's today after anticipating it for many months now. i am from memphis and must say i've rarely had barbecue outside of memphis that meets my expectations (ok, i'm a memphis bbq snob). memphis minnie's has been praised often here, so i had my hopes up. and the verdict . . . the pork ribs were very good - tender, fall of the bone, nicely smokey, good dry seasoning rub, very enjoyable. unfortunately, i only got 3 smallish ribs on my combo platter. the other half of the combo was the "memphis" pork shoulder, and my wife also ordered the pork sandwich. the meat was nice, but it was chopped, which i personally feel is inferior to the pulled pork you get in memphis - the texture/mouth-feel simply doesn't work as well. and the sandwich, ahem, was served on a crusty mini-baguette, which is high sacrilege if you ask me. yes, we are in san francisco, but the crustiness of the bread took away substantially from the enjoyment of the texture of the meat (which i was lamenting as being chopped anyway). you gotta have SOFT bread, either a bun, or as many hole in the wall places around memphis do, soft sliced white bread. it soaks in the sauce, and lets the flavor and texture of the meat take center stage, as opposed to overpowering it with crunch.

            the greens were great, though not traditional by any means, with a nice sweetness i couldn't quite place to balance out the bitter greens. the sweet potatoes were very good too.

            so, an enjoyable meal, yes, but i still can't wait to get back to memphis for the real thing!

            1. re: brad kaplan

              Brad, I always love hearing your comments on 'cue. Sorry you missed out on the brisket - it's really the best item, followed closely by the ribs. I didn't care for the texture of the pork either.

              1. re: brad kaplan

                Why (Oh why) can't we get a soft bread/roll in SF... there must be a conspiracy of crusty sourdough bakers. There used to be a market chain (Fry's) in the Bay Area that had a French loaf much like New Orleans...but nothing like it now. BBQ on anything but a disgustingly soft roll is sacriledge.

                1. re: Jim H.

                  Try a Mexican grocer/bakery for a bollilo type roll. These are soft, used for making tortas, and toast nicely when they're grilled to heat.

            2. re: jaweino

              You're thinking of Pittman's on the north side of upper Geary (just down from the Boom Boom Room). It's passable at best, nothing to make a trip over. Memphis Minnie's and Big Nate's are far better.

              I've been thinking of doing some comparisons between those 2 as I haven't been to Big Nate's in awhile.

              Would also be interested in a cue-off.

              1. re: jaweino

                In San Francisco, I strongly recommentd Nate's. Three days ago I had an unconquerable urge for a hit of their Memphis Pork. Charred on the outside, moist inside with an incredible smoked flavor. As a "heat" fan, I also like their hot sauce which has a fine bite.

                Over the past few years my wife and I have made several trips to Memphis and to Northern Mississippi (the Blues Trail), and we have found nothing to compare to what's available there on Folsom.

                Maybe Nate took the real thing with him.

              2. j
                jenniferfishwilson

                Great idea, Ruth! I'll bring the Doug's.

                1. j
                  Janet A. Zimmerman

                  If there's enough interest in a barbecue tasting, I could probably arrange to get the kitchen at Sur la Table in SF (where I work) to hold it. The kitchen can hold up to 40, there are 2 ovens for warming, and if we wanted to pay a little extra, we wouldn't have to do any clean up.

                  1. r
                    Rochelle McCune

                    We've done a brisket/rib taste off before but that was three years ago. It would be interesting to taste any newcomers and discover improvements by old-times. Sign up Michael & I.

                    1. s
                      Shepherd B. Goode

                      Sign me up, Ruth. Whenever and wherever.

                      Maybe, though, we should hold eliminations: a West Bay trial, an East Bay trial, and maybe a South Bay/Lower Peninsula trial. Then bring together maybe a half-dozen or eight finalists. As one quickly learns at the Reno Laabor Day BBQ Cookoff, you can hit 'cue burnout pretty quick, where you're still having fun but no longer making distinctions.

                      Link: http://www.chowhound.com/chowmarket/i...

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Shepherd B. Goode

                        What! We're chowhounds; we ain't no 'cue wimps! The LA folks tasted 17 or 18 -- surely we can handle that (although I think a dozen might be more reasonable)!

                        Any culling should be done in the selection process (i.e., don't suggest a place if it isn't a fave of yours).

                      2. b
                        Burke and Wells

                        We love a good 'cue, sign Burke and Wells up!

                        Peter
                        wells@emusic.com

                        P.S., 17 or 18 tastes? Give us 30 to 40! ;)

                        Link: http://www.burkeandwells.com

                        1. I just got back from trying out Chef Edwards for the first time. Liked it: wasn't totally amazed, but it was tasty and nearby.

                          Unfortunately four other people from work tagged along. This isn't the place for large groups. There are six stools at the bar, and two dinky tables with two chairs apiece.

                          It can also be slow since there's only one guy working. We happened to get there at a slow time and got our food quickly (but one by one), but then waited fifteen minutes to pay since he was building a huge takeout order for someone. He doesn't multitask at all. That being said, I think he did a great job at handling people in an orderly fashion (food is always more important than payment)... it just took a while.

                          I got the famed "piggly wiggly" (with hot sauce), which was very good, and definitely enough food. The cole slaw that came with it was really good, but looked scary: bright yellow with little mustard seeds floating in it. Also tried a side of beans, which were so-so; they were just... well, just beans.

                          Others got pork ribs, pork roast, and chicken, with various sides (potato salad was standard, yams were quite tasty, mac/cheese didn't look very good but I didn't try it). I heard no complaints, although some said they'd get the chicken next time since it looked better to them. Didn't look better to me, but whatever.

                          In comparison to the other downtown Oakland bbq spots (Everett's and Tony Roma), it's very cheap. My piggly, side, soda, tax/tip came to $8 (sides are $1.5). Others got full lunches at ~$10.

                          Plus, the guy was polite, and the clientele looked good: a number of regulars, a few workmen, two takeouts, and two other "let's try this place" went through while I was there.

                          So: I'd go back, and probably order the piggly again (it's fun to say). Probably not very often, but it was a tasty change from my standard asian/mexican spots.

                          Link: http://dai.sfsu.edu/20012/barbque/cli...

                          1. Had my first lunch at Chef Edwards today, it is on my way home and I have always wondered about it as I drive by. Had the piggly wiggley and it was amazing. The slaw was nice as well. Next time I am going for some sides as well. I am now waiting for the Peets to brew so that I can eat my sweet potatoe pie.