It’s been a while since I’ve written a poor review of a place….
Coop’s BBQ opened my eyes to genuine Texas-style bbq. Since then I’ve been curious of other bbq joints that smoke their meats. Brazen BBQ opened recently in Hillcrest. According to their website, the owners slow cook and smoke their meats and have won multiple BBQ awards.
The reviews on yelp were mixed about Brazen. Many complained of their limited menu options during their soft opening. As a result, I waited a couple of weeks before heading out to check it out.
The way the place is set up, you go to the counter and place your order and are then given a number to take with you to your table, where you wait for your food to arrive.
Once we arrived, we were told that there were still operating under a limited menu and gave us a menu to browse. The meats we were most interesting in trying, pork ribs and brisket, were both on the menu, so I wasn’t too bothered by the limited menu options.
I spotted a family platter, that allows you to choose three kinds of meats, three sides, and comes with corn bread. I thought it might be a good option for my family but I was trying to gauge how much meat we would be given.
Unfortunately, the employee taking our order wasn’t very helpful. He wasn’t able to give me any idea of how much meat there was other than telling me “it’s more food than for one person.” I decided to go ahead and order the family platter, and when I selected my meats, at this point the employee informed me they were out of pork ribs that night.I don’t know why he didn’t mention it early. Especially since he mentioned pork ribs in our conversation at least three times when I was asking about the family platter.
So we ended up selecting brisket, pulled pork, and chicken hot links. For our sides we chose cole slaw, baked beans, and fries.
At our table, we found two sauces. One was a little sweet, and the other a little spicy.
Soon after we were seated, our order arrived. The platter of food was a good amount for 3, and maybe 4 people, depending on how big the appetites are. We finished everything for our party of four, though if my brothers had been a little more hungry that night we might have needed slightly more.
Let’s start with the good. The pulled pork was moist and tender. It was probably the best thing on the platter. It wasn’t anything particularly special though and was missing a smoky flavor.
The hot links, like the pulled pork, were good but not anything special. They tasted similar to ones I purchase at Costco for our bbqs. I preferred the homemade chicken sausage I had at Coop’s.
The brisket was the biggest disappointment of the night. Many pieces were very charred. And it was dry, dry, dry. And flavorless. And I don’t know how one cooks such a fatty cut of meat so dry. It tasted like the meat had been sitting under the heat lamp all day.
Onto the sides. To my great relief, the fries were still crispy and tasted alright. Not the best fries, but better than the other sides we had chosen.
The beans tasted like they were straight out of the can.
Coleslaw was watery, and tasted like it was made from a mix.
The cornbread was interesting. It was very moist and had chunks of jalapeno inside as well. The outside was glazed with honey. My brother enjoyed the cornbread. I enjoyed how moist it was, but I felt it needed more corn.
We left the night really disappointed. I pretty much stopped eating halfway through because I wasn’t enjoying my food and didn’t want to stuff myself with food I didn’t like.
I understand that Brazen BBQ is still trying to settle down out and perhaps things will get better later on. But I feel that if they aren’t ready yet to serve good food, then they shouldn’t bother being open. Serving bad food will only result in negative reviews. Perhaps if, later down the road, I hear positive reviews, I may check it out again. But as of right now, I definitely would not return.
441 Washington at 5th
Hillcrest, San Diego, CA