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Hill Country Barbecue, New York City

Sowerby and Luff write…

This joint is obviously where New Yorkers went when they wanted to pretend to be Texans, and the whole restaurant was based on the idea of an indoor barbecue. Hickory wood was piled high next to the kitchen, and you ordered your meat by the pound. God, the Americans love their meat.
“Half a pound of lean brisket,” you’d say to the chef, and he’d grab it off the hickory grill and slap it on the scales. In order to further duplicate the experience of eating at a real Texan barbecue, the meat was then served not on a plate, but in brown paper, out of which you were also expected to eat it.

“I’d like a quarter of a pound of moist brisket, please,” I said meekly, and it was quickly weighed and slapped into my brown paper with little ceremony. As the meat was wrapped for me to take to the table, the fat quickly soaked through, and dripped appetizingly onto the floor.
“You want sides?” asked the chef?
“What are sides?” I whispered to Georgina, and she pointed towards another serving hatch, at which a number of mashed-up vegetables bubbled on a hob.
“I’ll have some of that, and some of that,” I said politely, not really knowing what it was I was ordering. The sides were scooped into big paper cups, and placed on my tray. I think I ordered corn on the cob and sweet potato, but both had been liquidised beyond recognition. It was like eating food that had been specially prepared for an old person with no teeth. Georgina ordered about a half a pound of lean brisket and some sides that were a slightly different colour and texture to mine, and we took our trays and sat down at a table.

An authentic Country and Western band were playing somewhere, but the restaurant was so big we couldn’t actually see them.
“How’s your moist brisket?” Georgina asked.
“Very moist,” I said. “I particularly like all the little bits of brown paper mixed with the meat.”
“That’s what makes it authentic,” Georgina said.
“Fancy another half a pound of brisket?” I asked.
“I’m good,” she said.