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Ben's LongBranch Barbecue:Let's band together and Keeep Ben Open

Did y'all read about the Ben's LongBranch Benefit a couple weeks ago?I ran into one of their countergirls at Spiderhouse the other day and she informed me that times are tough at Ben's joint.Mystifying why as Ben has some damn tasty and very reasonably priced food.I go for the half chicken which runs about 4 bucks.It's on par with Sams for quality of food as well as the quality of the 'hang.Drop a few of your barbecue dollars at Ben's,it would be a shame if this icon faded away.

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  1. Thanks for the heads up. I'm hungry, and I'm going to head there right now. Report to follow.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Knoblauch

      Knoblauch! Knoblauch?!? Are you still there?

      Ben's is closed on Tuesdays.

      1. re: MPH

        I should pay more attention when I feel my ears burning. I made it all the way over there before noticing the hours posted on the door. Apparently the deliciousness is only available Wed-Sat. That gives 'hounds an excuse to eat elsewhere three days a week.

        Since we were east of 35, and I'd been to Gene's recently, we decided to head down to Tony's Southern Comfort. As usual, I was quite pleased. I think I recall MPH raving about a visit as the only party in the place, and boy is that a good point. I've never been disappointed with a meal at Tony's, but this was something special. Maybe some masterpieces take time? The chicken drumettes, pork chops, and CFS were fried to perfection. For the chops and CFS, perfection means a well-seasoned, but not crispy breading, with fully cooked and juicy interior. The drumettes were crispier, but just as well seasoned. The cream gravy and mashed potatoes really hit the spot.

        We had banana pudding and peach cobbler for dessert. The pudding was tasty, and very heavy on the stirred-in cookie pieces. The cobbler was a little sub-par: a mixture of barely-reduced canned peaches in their liquid with what seemed a bit like once-frozen pie pastry. This was doubly hard since I'd just been drooling about Ben's cobbler.

        All in all, a very satisfying experience. The sad thing is, as scrumptiouschef indicated in starting this thread, delicious food like Ben's, Gene's, and Tony's is overlooked by many guides aimed at tourists.

        Feel free to discuss the omission of some or all or them from guides in the appropriate spots. Here are a couple to get you started.

        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/377718

        and

        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/374868

        1. re: Knoblauch

          I've become a rabid Tony's addict in the past several weeks. Thanks for the continued good news.

    2. Today I went into Ben's Long Branch thinking I wanted barbeque, but naturally today was Soul Food Wednesday. I just had to try the smothered liver and onions special.

      I can't remember when I've had better. The liver had a perfect texture: tender, but with a little snap in the right places. The onions imparted an understated flavor, and were sauteed to perfection. The gravy smothering the dish was thick and peppery, enhancing the flavor of both the liver and the rice I had on the side. My other side was collard greens. They were mildly spicy, tender, and suffused with pork flavor. In a word delicious.

      Of course, I also got some of their exemplary cobbler. (For those planning parties, they have a whole one on the price list. I'd imagine if you need more than one, you'd want to arrange it in advance.)

      I was very happy with the meal, but this is two days in a row that I've wanted Ben's barbeque and not ended up eating it. I guess I'll need to go back soon.

      1. Update on hours: The printed menu that I picked up at Ben's today states that they're now open from 10:30 A.M. to 9:00 P.M. on Monday-Saturday.

        I stopped by Ben's around 4:30 today to pick up some to-go pork ribs and brisket, along with their delicious peach cobbler and tasty banana pudding. There were a few regulars from the neighborhood in the dining room, all happily chowing down on 'cue. I like to eat in, too. They keep the temperature nice and cool, and there are lots of windows and a small TV if you get bored. Ben himself was also there today, and he was in his usual sunny mood. He told me that he was glad for the business because he hoped to stay open for a long time. In fact, he's working on a plan to stay open 7 days a week. Lunch business is still strong, he related. I was very glad to hear it. Good 'cue, low prices, nice folks—what's not to like?

        Local 'hounds might want to keep Ben's new hours in mind, whenever a barbecue craving hits. Their address is 900 East 11th Street, and their phone number is 477-2516.

        1 Reply
        1. re: MPH

          I have a revised update on hours of operation. Ben's must have had to scale back with their original plans to stay open longer. Currently, their hours are: Wednesdays and Thursdays, 11 to 4; Fridays and Saturdays, 11 to 7. That's it.

          They told me that they were closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, even though their website says otherwise (http://www.benslongbranchbarb.ypgs.net/ ). They also seem to be closed on Sundays. It's always a good idea to call ahead: 477-2516.

          Their peach cobbler was excellent today.

        2. The original comment has been removed
          1. I *finally* made it over to Ben's today for lunch. Great ribs & brisket and lots of good southern charm. I love that patio they have outside too. Has that always been there?

            I overheard Ben talking to another customer about soul-food Wednesdays. Knoblauch here described the liver & onions and collard greens. Are there other soul food eats available? I'm planning a trip there next Wednesday.

            Edit: Just pulled up a couple of the old "soul food" threads, and got the info from there.

            15 Replies
            1. re: jwynne2000

              I saw your "edit" too late, jwynne2000, so I may be repeating info you've read elsewhere.

              I've had very good smothered pork chops and chicken & dumplings on soul-food Wednesdays at Ben's. I also really like their peach cobbler, which you might want to sample for yourself (if you haven't yet had the pleasure).

              1. re: MPH

                I've only had the peach cobbler at Ben's once, but I wasn't impressed. To me it was overly sweet and had a gummy texture, with little peach flavor. The biscuit cobbler was quite heavy and dense, and the overall impression was of what I would imagine very sweet library paste would taste like. Maybe I got a bad sample... I like a cobbler with lots of fresh-tasting fruit and a light cobbler pastry, and this had neither.

                1. re: Bat Guano

                  Their cobbler is more of a cinnamon-rich filling made with canned peaches (most places don't use fresh) topped with a puffy biscuit-style pastry. I've had bad versions twice: once when the pastry itself was more gummy and pie-crust-like and once when they seemed to have left out the sugar. The last time, it was quite good. I've probably had their cobbler at least a dozen times and have also ordered whole ones for parties.

                  Which cobblers in town do you like? You've probably noticed that many places that claim to be famous for their fruit cobbler serve the pre-made Sysco product. Like you, I prefer when it's done the old-fashioned way.

                  1. re: MPH

                    I haven't found any cobblers I like in town. In truth, I've pretty much given up on looking for them, having had a number of bad ones - yes, including the pre-made sludge that some places pass off as cobbler. So I hardly ever order it anymore. My (impossibly high) standard for comparison are the ones my grandmother used to make....

                    1. re: Bat Guano

                      my favorite cobbler so far is (gasp) at County Line on the Lake.

                      1. re: amysuehere

                        Glad you found one you like. It's a lucky choice. Since it's reportedly one of the Sysco ones (per this thread http://www.chowhound.com/topics/37171... ), you probably aren't too far from your favorite anywhere in the country.

                        1. re: Knoblauch

                          It's Sysco? No s**t? wow. Well, Rudy's is too. Guess I'm pedestrian with some of my likes. I can live with that.

                      2. re: Bat Guano

                        I'm with you Bat. I grew up in the north Georgia mountains near several peach orchards. Essential for good peach cobbler as it can only contain fresh peaches imho. The most common peach used for us was the Georgia Bell. A very sweet white flesh peach. My mother's cobbler always turned out very thick and mostly crust. I think the most accurate description would be a peach bread pudding.

                        The best peach cobbler I've had in Texas was in Stonewall. I stopped in during the Peach Festival and sampled the cobbler made by some of ladies there. Definitely was home made and had plenty of fresh peaches. You might keep an eye out for the festival next summer and stop in.

                        1. re: ssouth

                          Yeah, stands to reason that Stonewall during peach season would feature some good cobblers. I'll remember to check it out. Thanks for the tip.

                          I'll go back to Ben's for the soul food and barbecue (although with Sam's so close by that'll be a tough call), and on the chance that I just got a bad batch I'll try the cobbler again - but if it comes down to it I can live without it, too.

                      3. re: MPH

                        I've had a very good blackberry cobbler at, of all places, Shady Grove. A tart, but sweet, flavor explosion with a quite tasty pastry. The fruit though and the ice cream served atop it was what made this special for me. I haven't had it in some time, but still remember it fondly. Not sure if it was a Sisco product though...my gut says no.

                      4. re: Bat Guano

                        Bat Guano, I'm with you on the cobbler at Ben's. I had tried it a few years ago and thought is was not good. Went back last week and tried it again after stumbling across this thread. While the BBQ was mostly very good (as usual), the cobbler was simply terrible. Dark brown, thick "filling"--I only recognized two thin things that were recognizable as having once been slices of peach--with HARD outside, raw-doughy inside nuggets of thick pie-dough type bread--very close to hardtack, really, as if it were made of flour and boiling water with no leavener at all. I can't imagine that anybody would try it and like it, so I am puzzled. Are there different cooks working on different days? Is the cobbler at Ben's excellent some days and terrible on others? Any time I hear of good peach cobbler, I'm bound to run out and try it, but I don't see myself trying it again at Ben's without some clear indication that it was a fluke.

                        1. re: angusb

                          I've had the bad-crust cobbler experience once in maybe 20 visits. That's one of the risks of doing things by hand the old fashioned way. Every so often you have a bad day. On the whole, I take that risk because when it is good, it's very good. I usually make sure to order a banana pudding too, both because it's delicious and because it's good to have insurance.

                          It's unfortunate that you've had two bad experiences over the course of several years. Mass production is your best bet for a consistent result. If you can find a mass-produced cobbler that you like, you'll be in hog heaven.

                          After thinking on your post for a while, I came up with a theory. Maybe the times people don't have a great experience is when the serving comes from the very end of a pan, resulting in less fruit than usual and pieces of the bottom crust that have been soaking for hours.

                          Who knows? At least you can keep going back to Ben's for delicious barbecue.

                          1. re: Knoblauch

                            FYI - Green Mequite, of all places, makes some excellent cobbler. They do make it there, but they use canned peaches.

                            1. re: rudeboy

                              Darn it, I thought you said Shady Grove. Thus, I may have retried a peach cobbler that I'd already tried once and ruled out as one of my favorites. Actually, I believe I've already tried the one at Green Mesquite, too. I'll have to check my notes.

                              Shady Grove claims to make all their own desserts, but they also use canned peaches in their cobbler. Their version consists of a bed of plain, unseasoned peaches straight from the can, on the top of which is sprinkled standard-issue ground cinnamon. Covering the peach filling is a fairly thick layer of lightly sweet, biscuit-like topping that's not too buttery but tender. It reminded me of biscuit mix, but that could just be the flavor profile they were going for. The texture of the pastry is better at room temperature. After reheating, it became extremely soft and gummy, probably as a result of steaming from contact with the peaches. They serve their cobbler with Blue Bell vanilla ice cream.

                              Although the blandly sweet desserts are, in my opinion, the best items on Shady Grove's menu, I didn't love their cobbler. It was certainly different. Those chowhounds who dislike Ben's filling for being "too brown," which I'd guess is the result of cooking it down with cinnamon and other pastry spices, might prefer SG's peach cobbler. Theirs is not one of my favorite types, but it is a common one.

                              1. re: MPH

                                I have not had a lot of peach cobbler at restaurants as I usually make it or sweet talk Mom into it :)

                                Howevever, I had a good one at Threadgill's a few months back. In general, I don't care for Threadgill's food but the cobbler tasted homeade and had a nice crust to peach ratio (I like to have crust in every bite).

                                The worst peach cobbler? Salt Lick. A friend had a birthday party there last week. The BBQ was so greasy I hardly ate any so I planned to fill up on dessert. Ugh. Tasted like canned peaches with a weird Bisquick cake concotion on top.