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Aug 26, 2007 07:36 PM

hill country

Just got back from the Epcot Food Court known as Hill Country. On the ride home, deconstructing the meal, my wife and I agreed that the one word to describe the food was "tasteless." Even the iced tea had a backtaste of mint. Can't they leave this perfect beverage unadulterated?

I know bbq. This isn't bbq. I know the pink smoke ring of brisket, but the "moist" offering was laden with undercooked pinkness. My wife said if she didn't know better, she thought the sausage was of the vegetarian variety. NOT ENOUGH SMOKE!!!

The pork ribs and beef ribs disappointed as well, but we thought enough of our dog to bring the beef bone home for him. At least he enjoyed it. Seems he doesn't mind undercooking as much as we do.

As for the sides, corn pudding was the saving grace. Mac and cheese too cheesy, of the cloying kind. Beans were oversweet, with no burnt ends to be found.

Enjoyed the white bread to sop up the bottled sauce, but this is not what I expected to be the highlight of the meal.

Sorry, won't be back. Blue Smoke and RUB do the "q" some much better.

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  1. Tasteless means without taste. But you then immediately give as an example a tea that has been over-seasoned for your taste.

    I liked Hill Country, fun to hang out at, like the food. But BBQ is so subjective, like sushi. I like Blue Smoke too, while many hate it. Never understood the appeal of RUB.

    It is good we all have different BBQ opinions or all these places would always be too crowded to eat in!!!

    1. I loved the brisket at HC, but thought that the sides (with the exception of the corn) were horrible. The mac-n-cheese was way too cheesy, you're right...I love cheese, but it was just too overpowering and strong. It's been a while since I've had Blue Smoke, but they know how to make sides! I thought that the service at RUB was heinous and I will never go back.

      1 Reply
      1. re: LeahBaila

        Agreed. The fixins' aren't that great at Hill Country. The meat is good, but that's it. And be prepared to wait for a long time....

      2. Maybe you went on an off night.

        When I went the food had taste.

        The drinks had taste too.

        I like the taste of both the food and the drinks.

        Will try again soon to see if they no longer cook food with taste.

        Would be a bummer if there is on fact no longer taste in the food at Hill Country, because that is one of the main reasons I like to eat food!

        6 Replies
        1. re: Abe Froman

          i loved hill country. the fatty brisket was a bit fatty but also was second only to katz's for the meat in terms of taste.

          the pork ribs were my favorite ive had in the city. and i like cheesy mac and cheese.

          the cupcakes...oh man...

          i dug the whole place. more so than rub, my previous favorite bbq joint in the city.

          1. re: Abe Froman

            I didn't go on an off night. Any night a restaurant in NYC is open for business, and they charge for their goods (as opposed to giving it away for free), they better well be "on."
            When I called the food tasteless, it wasn't in the sense that early John Waters movies were tasteless; ( actually, his flicks were in "bad" taste, but were extraordinarily appealing to me. By tasteless I mean that based on my expectations of what good "q" should taste like, the important elements of the meat were missing.
            Great bbq cannot and will not be found in NYC...just reasonable facsimiles thereof. It's another example of trying to export regional specialties to other time zones (see Calvin Trillin, "American Fried"). Not since Pearson's got it right in Long Island City in the 90's, has NY "q" resembled anything more than smoked meat with too much emphasis on the sides. Just stop off at Sonny Bryan's in Dallas and you'll know what I mean.
            Yes, you can like the taste of the food and the drinks, but millions of people think the Olive Garden has great Italian food (wow! unlimited breadsticks and salad!) And don't even get me started on Pizza Hut and Domino's. I worship at the altar of Dominic.
            At least we agree on UPN!

            1. re: kill4bbq

              As someone whose had a lot of Texas bbq, I couldn't disagree with your posts more. First I thought maybe you're not a fan of texas bbq, but from your post above, apparently you are. I have been to both Sonny Bryan's and Kreuz and Kreuz is far superior. In fact, I had been to Kreuz about a week before Hill Country opened, and upon visiting Hill Country I was suprised how good it was right out of the gate. The brisket is the best in the city and quite good by Kreuz standards. Not as good as Kreuz, but close enough to make us lucky to have it here in NYC. The moist brisket is fattier than at Kreuz, but easy to rip away the fat line and enjoy the great flavor. The sides aren't incredible, but that doesn't bother me because the meat is so good. Either way, the one thing you can't say about Hill Country is that the meat is tasteless or needs more smoke flavor. Maybe you're just a fan of other wood flavors and the oak doesn't do it for you. This is real cue and it's done quite well.

              1. re: ScottK

                ok, ScottK, maybe you're onto something. Perhaps I have had meat smoked with wood other than oak that appeals more to my palate.
                I would like to amend my term "tasteless" to "taste that I find objectionable based on my tongue's memory bank."
                There...that should do it!

                1. re: kill4bbq

                  what is your opinion of the quality of meats used? surely a taste that disagreable is caused in part by inferior cuts and not just preperation.

                  1. re: Abe Froman

                    the best way to answer that is to refer you to the esteemed pastrami sandwich at Katz's. how they turn 2nd cut into such an ethereal delight has all to do with the prep. i'm no more knowledgeable about the raw product at HC than at Sonny Bryan's, but I do know what good is, and it's not HC.
                    p.s. I've loved White Castle for 50 years. Need I say more about quality?

          2. Undercooked? The meat is cooked 12-14 hours going past the point of well done and entering breakdown mode. Do you know what BBQ is? What low and slow means? Tasteless? They use more salt and pepper on their brisket than kreuz. They smoke their sausage twice. I don't think you should speak so harshly about things that you don't know about. That is the definition of ignorance.

            8 Replies
            1. re: lilwalter

              I agree, lilwalter. I don't want to flame on this guy, but c'mon... pink from being underdone?? The HC brisket is good. that's it. BTW, how about recognizing that the slices on your plate also have a lot to do with the particular piece of brisket that came off of a particular dang cow. each piece of meat is different. Some days you will happen to get a better one, some days not. ANother thing... HC does a good job turning our moist product using an Ole Hickory pit. That's either a wood/gas or wood/electric combo. But they know how to use it. Blue SMoke, on the other hand, is mediocre to me... RUB I liked, and Dinosaur I liked. Both of those use the Oyler wood burners from J&R Manufacturing in Mesquite. On the other hand, they use those pits at Salt Lick in the real Hill Country, and I thought their product stank. Kreuz is my favorite. Smitty's is good. Coopers in Llano is nice, too.

              You know what... it's all good... but those comment about HC from kill4bbq... that's just either nasty or ill informed.

              1. re: woodburner

                well, I knew it was just a matter of time before the experts chimed in. i'm less interested in the inner workings of a watch than i am in getting the right time of day.,
                i also know the difference between cooked and undercooked, moist and dry, and this brisket was undercooked AND undersmoked. I may not have consumed as much "q" as you, having been raised in Brooklyn and not the Lone Star State, but I know what tastes good, and this wasn't it!
                as for "woodburner," i am not confusing being pink with being underdone. i have had pink many times before, and it wasn't underdone.
                next time i'm in Texas, i'll make it over to Kreuz. until then, i'll keep trying what the area has to offer. sometimes it'll be real good, other times not. HC was plain lousy, and that's my opinion, not nasty or ill informed.
                FYI...the definition of ignorance is "the condition of being uneducated, unaware or uninformed." I voiced an OPINION, not a set of facts. This is what a blog is for

                1. re: kill4bbq

                  I hear you, kill4... and you're makin me smile... so it's cool.

                  The thing is, them briskets go in the smoker for like a dozen hours... it's physically impossible for it to be under done... meaning pink in the middle (versus around the edge)... unless... UNLESS... some huckleberry put that thing in the smoker then pulled it out after about 3 hours!!! I suppose it's possible.

                  Anyway... each to his own. I also liked the HC cucumber salad!

                  1. re: kill4bbq

                    Kreuz sausage is not a HC invention. It is a Kreuz market from Lockhart Tx. product. If you don't don't like it your actually knocking Texas BBQ, not HC. It is imported from Texas already smoked-then smoked again by HC. It is actually a lot smokier than Kreuz. I'm not trying to debate or fight, I guess I didn't like your tone on the original post (calling it dog food and Epcot food court).

                    1. re: lilwalter

                      figured I was done but I do have to say something about that... before I went to HC, read a few posts here that said the regular sausage was "mealy," but the jalapeno-cheese was good... and you know what -- it was true. Maybe the regular just doesn't hold up well to the second smoking. It had a real soft consistency problem on the inside. I mentioned it to, I forget his name, Kip?? Nice fella. But I did notice something off with the regular sausage.

                      1. re: woodburner

                        I agree totally. The jalepeno-cheese version was very good. I didn't really like the plain. I think it was a consistency thing-not a smoke thing. I heard the same from somebody that works there as well.

                        1. re: lilwalter

                          Certainly agree about the consistency of the sausage. Thick outer skin and a soft mealy inside. I founf the same with both types. Really not good flavor either and at $6 per link was certainly not good. As I stated before I thought the beef ribs we far superior to anything NYC has to offer. The prices are a big turn off as well. $90 for 3 of us for lunch with no drinks.

                          1. re: princeofpork

                            The only thing I havn't tried yet are the beef ribs because they are always gone by the time I get there. What you say about the price is fair. It is a lot for BBQ. Something tells me though that those shacks in central Texas don't have the same overhead as HC! But things do add up quickly. My second visit to HC was cheaper because I realized how much I needed of each. I wasn't used to ordering ribs by the pound!