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Uncle Billy's - BIG Turn Around!

Chuck_Wagon May 15, 2008 03:55 PM

Chuck Wagon here...

They did it! UB has finally turned the corner. The folks at UB’s have worked hard and their work in the kitchen has paid off. We now have a true BBQ and beer establishment on Barton Springs Rd.

WAY TO GO Uncle Billy’s.

  1. a
    akachochin Sep 21, 2008 07:26 AM

    Chuck Wagon and others,

    First, I go for the beer, not the food. My experience with the food has been mixed, as noted by several others. Not enough of a bet to make repeatedly, so I guess I will try something next week and see whether I have the same experience as Chuck Wagon. I don't think that they spend any (ANY) time training their waitstaff. That accounts for some of the ineptness, IMO.

    UB has three parking possibilities. ( I ignore the two "to-go" places between UB and Austin Java) There is valet parking. There is a self-park lot (read the signs, they change from time to time) west on Barton Springs behind that cursed location on the north side of the road just before Robt. E. Lee (turn right on Sterzing). The walk is about two blocks. They also have various shuttles, mostly elongated golf carts, to haul you back and forth to the lot for free. My personal experience is that there is never, repeat never, a cart at the lot and most of the time the cart drivers are too busy hitting on some female patrons back at UBs to bother making their run. So I walk both ways. It is not a big deal and probably safer than being on Barton Springs Road in a flimsy cart among the uber important, impatient, and drunk headed for some gated community south and west.

    RE: Round Sparrow's experience, UB has some very good bar tenders and some really poor ones. Some know me by name and put up the right beer automatically, some can't seem to understand that folks sit at the bar to drink.

    UB is remarkably tolerant about laptops. I have frequently seen bar tenders assist bar patrons by plugging their power brick into a power strip behind the bar and they certainly don't seem to discourage them. They might on a weekend evening when the bar is packed. I don't frequent UBs at those times so I could not say.

    Another nice thing they do, IMO, is give service employees (of other establishments) a break on pricing. (Don't know the exact details as it does not apply to me).

    Finally. Most of the beer is quite good. I am not a fan of most fruit and nuts beers and only tolerate the various herbal/seasonal brews. Brian's fondness for rauchbier styles did not connect for me at Bitter End and it still doesn't. (YMVV) It is hard to beat a good $2 pale ale. (Tuesdays) Ask any of the out of town visitors.

    If you don't like UBs own brews, they have several others on tap including Live Oak and the new pale from 512 Brewing. Of course they have a full bar and lots of BudMilLite. But if you drink that, you could get it anywhere, as cheap, and with the food you want.

    1. r
      RoundSparrow Sep 20, 2008 08:42 AM

      I went to Uncle Billy's recently around 8:00pm on a Thursday. Went into the bar, got my laptop out to do some work. Sitting _center_ of the bar, the bartender ignored me for 12 minutes before I left in disgust. He was cleaning glasses and doing who knows what else... but he sure wasn't asking me if I wanted a beer. How can you get such horrible service AT the bar? And I was like 10 feet from the host station where 2 or 3 employees were coming and going without much to do. Nobody notices me either.

      1. c
        cibodivino Jun 9, 2008 03:27 PM

        We ate there last night. Technically, UB has 2 parking spaces. Otherwise you have to use the shuttle.

        The BBQ remains fair to middlin'. The meat is dry, even the 'moist' brisket, for which there is an additional charge. Ribs were meaty and tasted good but were dry. I did enjoy the jalapeno cheese sausage. The cole slaw is unremarkable in every way, but the fries were excellent. They're cut shoestring style and came out very crispy and well seasoned.

        Service was friendly but forgetful, for which we were compensated by a free pint.

        1. n
          NativeGirl Jun 2, 2008 09:30 AM

          Went there this weekend. It wasn't crowded early on Saturday. They ONLY have valet parking, which for BBQ and Austin Java seemed a bit strange and overkill.

          Got the pork ribs. You get three or four rather tiny and dry ribs. Sauce was nothing to write home about. The potato salad may have been good except it was warm and I dont think it was supposed to be. Cole slaw pretty bland too. All in all not a great experience. The beer was pretty good though.

          2 Replies
          1. re: NativeGirl
            singlemalt Jun 2, 2008 10:35 AM

            Are you saying that at Uncle Billy's the only parking available is using their valet service? That is what I read above but I find that sorta' something, don't know what, but that is a deal killer for me.

            1. re: singlemalt
              smalone Jun 9, 2008 01:08 PM

              There's only valet because they're building those new condos *right* behind both places and, apparently, don't have publicly accessible parking anymore.

              Also, I second the general review - okay food, BAD service, good beer. Only thing they have over Green Mesquite, for me, is beer and fried pickles. Sadly, there are days when that's all it take for me to wander over to the dark side....

          2. p
            poolio May 17, 2008 07:27 PM

            We haven't tried the BBQ again since the opening a year ago, but we recently went back to give the beer another try. The beer has significantly improved, especially the brown and pale ales. For Austin microbrew, it's finally fairly well done.

            1. g
              GenieinTX May 16, 2008 03:01 PM

              I've been wanting to go to Uncle Billy's because I've heard they have pulled pork BBQ. Because it sounds like they have crappy service and/or food, of all the other recommendations, who else has it? Very few places in Texas have it, so when I hear of one, I'm all for going.

              4 Replies
              1. re: GenieinTX
                The Tres Leches May 16, 2008 03:48 PM

                The pulled pork I had at Whole Foods and at Lambert's was better than the stuff I had at Uncle Billy's. Granted, it was at room temperature and from a styrofoam box, but that's what happens when Uncle Billy's can't slice meat and deliver it to a customer within an hour and a half.

                1. re: GenieinTX
                  stephanieh May 16, 2008 08:36 PM

                  Genie, I had a good pulled pork sandwich from TJ's Hickory Honey Ham the other day. There's a thread for TJ's out here and everyone was raving about it. So, being a fan of pulled pork myself, I had to go. It was just take-out and I don't know their hours. But, the sandwich was really good. Pork was tender, BBQ sauce a little sweet (not the Texas sauce, but I like sweetness with my pulled pork), the bread was a large hoagie type roll which would have been a little tough-ish for any other sandwich (for my taste), but held up well to the huge portion of pulled pork they piled on. Sandwich came to $7, and it was worth it. They deliver if you're in the area (they're where the farmer's market was on Burnet).

                  1. re: stephanieh
                    ieathereforeiam Jun 2, 2008 11:58 AM

                    TJ's is open till 6 m-saturday. I like their pulled pork a lot. the hoagie bread is good on all their hot sandwiches. It is made down the street at phoenicia.

                    Their hot ham and cheese is also excellent, as are their baked beans and slaw.

                  2. re: GenieinTX
                    Joelle Sep 22, 2008 01:37 PM

                    My favorite place for pulled pork is Mann's up on 183 at Ohlen. The pulled pork at Uncle Billy's is good, but not as good as Mann's and Mann's has the real deal vinegar sauce to go with theirs. I love the beer at Uncle Billy's, but don't go there very often because the parking situation drives me crazy. Also the service, as many have noted, often leaves much to be desired.

                  3. a
                    AlanV May 16, 2008 03:00 PM

                    I ate lunch there today, but a little later in the afternoon and at the bar, so it wasn't crowded and the service was quick. The sandwich was okay, the slaw fine and the fries were shoestring, not my fave. But I've had worse BBQ, too, so I'm not complaining, and the lunch special was $5.99 for the sandwich and two sides, a nice price. The Pale Ale was excellent; nice cascades hops flavored throughout the whole glass, proper color, no real off flavors. I was pleasantly surprised by that.

                    1. t
                      The Tres Leches May 16, 2008 08:28 AM

                      It's going to take a lot to get me back to that place.

                      Just recently, we waited 1.5 hours for two barbecue plates and then gave up out of frustration. We had expressed our displeasure to our waiter to no effect. It was only when we were walking out that a manager came to apologize with our meals boxed up in styrofoam boxes. Too little, too late for extremely mediocre food.

                      How hard is it too slice meat and put it on a plate or tell your customer that you ran out of food?

                      I'd go to Green Mesquite, Artz's or Pok E Joe's (all within 5 minutes) before I'd go back to Uncle Billy's.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: The Tres Leches
                        amysuehere May 16, 2008 08:48 AM

                        AND Green Mesquite has a wonderful history of taking care of its own, AND it has a lovely back patio with great music, big ole scooners of Shiner and killer wings.

                        When they had the fire, Tom, Liz, Lauren and Brian Davis paid their staff throughout the rebuild/remodel...and that was a long, slow process. Those folks are still working there today. That kind of loyalty (both ways) just isn't found in these corporate times.

                        btw...it's "We did it"

                        1. re: amysuehere
                          TroyTempest May 16, 2008 09:58 AM

                          "big ole scooners of Shiner" can hardly compete with the brews produced at UB's. Its a shame that food and service don't seem to measure up. (that is if they still don't. I am unqualified to really comment on them, personally)
                          I have only been there for the beer. Next time i go i'll try the BBQ.

                        2. re: The Tres Leches
                          shan May 16, 2008 09:37 AM

                          I agree. I live probably 5 minutes away, and short of an act of the almighty commanding me to go there, I doubt I'll darken the door again. Frankly, there's too many good restaurant options nearby to run the risk of completely wasting my money... again.

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