|401 W. 2nd St.
Austin, TX 78701
As I was walking into Lambert’s Downtown BBQ on my most recent visit, I heard a woman remark to her date, “Come on, I don’t want to go to another BBQ joint.” Luckily for the woman, her boyfriend prevailed and she was last observed happily munching the evening away. Because trust me on this: Lambert’s is NOT just another barbecue joint. It is the collaboration between a couple of guys, Lou Lambert and Larry McGuire, who have substantially more evolved pedigrees. And the result, a sophisticated celebration of the art of meat as comfort food, is pretty damned exciting.
The appetizers reflect the care and imagination of the guys in the kitchen. How many times will you see Deviled Eggs, spicy and laden with smoked paprika, American caviar and tiny sweet pickles? Not often, and I very much enjoyed this flavorful homage to Americana. And the Crispy Wild Boar Ribs were a smash hit. Fall-off the-bone tender with Hoisin sauce, spicy Chinese mustard and grilled green onions, the meat was succulent and had flavors that came at you in waves: the combination of the mustard and the Hoison BBQ sauce made this dish irresistible. Do reserve at least one extra napkin for this one though. And we loved the Cornmeal Fried Rock Shrimp. The breading was perfect and the shrimp could have stood on their own: but the cilantro jicama slaw and the Lime and Chile dip simply could not be ignored. I’d get this again in a heartbeat! We also liked the mini cornbread muffins that came before dinner: beautiful texture and delightfully mellow flavors.
The entrees range from the more typical BBQ (at least in concept) fare to steaks and chops. But there is nothing at Lambert’s that’s really typical. Every dish has its unique preparation and execution. The Bone-In Berkshire Pork Chop was as good as anything I’ve had this summer. Incredibly mellow texture and upon a dip in the fruited mustard sauce, the taste components ratcheted up several degrees to leave me in lip-smacking bliss. I literally picked up the denuded bone and chewed away when I was done: it was that good. Another good choice was the Mustard and Brown Sugar Coated Niman Ranch Natural Ribeye. If flavor is your métier, than this dish will make you swoon. The beautifully marbled ribeye benefited from the mustard and brown sugar which enhanced the already excellent taste. And the Herb Crusted Natural Prime Rib is a dish that will make fans of this genre giddy with excitement. Every tender bite was redolent of that seared, smoky flavor that Texans love.
The desserts were the only minor disappointment and the flaw was not on the flavor front. Both the lovely Tapioca Pudding and the exquisite Coconut Cream Pie were served a bit on the lukewarm side. Desserts of this ilk should be cold. Hope they fix that.
So don’t confuse a trip to Lambert’s with a pilgrimage to Lockhart. Yeah, there’s BBQ in the name, but the concept and execution are considerably upgraded.