As the Woodlands has grown, we've seen explosive growth in the local restaurant market. Newcomers open every month, anxious to tap into the thriving economy by feeding hungry residents. Some succeed. Some fail. But all help the dining scene change and evolve into something more interesting.
Once thing we've bemoaned repeatedly is the lack of good BBQ in the Woodlands. While there are a smattering of BBQ joints, we've yet to run across a place that serves the kind of 'Q that we crave. Heck, most of the time when we're in the mood for BBQ, we hike down I-45 to Louetta and give Rudy's, the San Antonio import, our business.
So we were excited to hear from one of our Twitter followers about a new BBQ place opening up off Sawdust road. Called Corkscrew BBQ, it is an oversized BBQ truck/trailer semi-permanently located on Budde road, half a block south of Sawdust. Painted black with a bright pink roof, you won't miss the trailer when you drive down Budde Road, perhaps on the way to an Orwall little league game.
|The Corkscrew BBQ Truck|
Corkscrew BBQ is new to the Woodlands, but the people behind it are not new to BBQ. Will and Nichole Buckman are the owners, and they have operated a successful catering business on the north side for years. Corkscrew BBQ is the result of their desire to serve a bigger market on a daily basis, applying their hard-won expertise in the catering field.
So how is the BBQ? As every real Texan knows, BBQ is all about slow-cooking meat with plenty of honest-to-Robb wood smoke. Corkscrew's wood of choice is oak, and they use plenty of it.
|Native Texas Oak is the source of fire and smoke in Corkscrew BBQ's pit|
Unlike many urban BBQ places, Corkscrew's pit runs exclusively on wood - there's no gas involved at all. Oak was selected because it's a fairly hot-burning wood, and Will Buckman prefers not to overpower the flavor of the meat with the flavor of smoke, and a hotter fire shifts the balance in favor of the meat flavor.
The pit itself is a good-sized rotary shelf unit, with individual meats wrapped in foil to retain their juices.
|The pit at Corkscrew BBQ|
Corkscrew smokes the traditional brisket, ribs and sausage, and also plans to go beyond the standards with occasional daily specials. On our first visit, we were in a bit of a hurry, and sampled only the chopped beef sandwich.
|Chopped Beef at Corkscrew BBQ|
Chopped beef can tell you a lot about the philosophy of a BBQ joint. Some places use the least desirable scraps, hiding the poor quality behind too much strong sauce. Corkscrew's approach is one we prefer: Freshly chopped brisket, mixed with just enough sauce, topped with veggies. Crunchy sliced onions and pickles (and jalapeños, if you'd like) complete the sandwich, and we liked the not-overly-sweet tang of the housemade sauce.
We returned two days later, and talked with Will Buckman about how their first weekend went. They were very busy - apparently we weren't the only ones in the Woodlands who were hungry for a new BBQ spot. Will insisted that we try his brisket, and hauled out a slab.
|Brisket at Corkscrew BBQ|
The brisket had a beautiful dark bark, and the grit of the house rub was plainly visible. A cut revealed a quarter-inch smoke ring in a nice, dark pink.
He sliced off a sample (an outside cut from the fatty end) and we dug in. The smoky flavor was subtle, but certainly present. We've had BBQ where the smoke totally overpowered the flavor of the beef, but that wasn't a problem at Corkscrew. The 'Q was slightly drier than we prefer, but a dash of the tangy housemade sauce addressed that problem, and added a nice bite to the flavor.
|Brisket at Corkscrew BBQ|
Bottom line: Corkscrew's brisket is easily among the best to be had in the Woodlands.
Will had an enigmatic smile on his face, and handed me a small container. "It's our cobbler. Today's is apple." Never being one to insult a man with a hot pit and sharp knives, I opened the container and sampled the warm cobbler.
|Apple Cobbler at Corkscrew BBQ|
Corkscrew's cobbler is superb. A soft, flaky, buttery crust balanced with the zest of the spicy apples, sweet but not cloyingly so. We're anxious to return and sample the other cobblers, including peach and seasonal berries.
The Woodlands has been in need of a serious BBQ joint ever since I've moved here, and Corkscrew BBQ is already filling that void. Between the tasty brisket and superb cobbler, we'll be back, and often. If you love BBQ, you will, too.