At Beaver's BBQ

I am well aware that Beaver's BBQ is a touchy subject for many Houston restaurant-goers. Simultaneously voted the most underrated and most overrated Houston restaurant, Beaver's certainly knows how to divide a crowd. Having visited no fewer than seven times, I can testify to their consistent inconsistencies. I yawn over their overpriced bland brisket and over-salted sausage, but I'll eat every last crumb of the Bad Ass Po'Boy and, if not for concern over my personal blood alcohol level, would gladly drink three-plus El Diablo cocktails.

In terms of service, Beaver's also has good days and bad: my waiters have been funny or forgetful (or both) and one particular hostess seemed to scowl reflexively upon making eye contact with any patron.

At this point, I'm a loyal customer in part because I can usually construct my own positive experience. I know what to order and what to avoid, I know to make reservations even on weeknights lest I get stuck balancing on stools while some larger corporate group hogs the tables and I know which drinks are ridiculously small and/or dilute and which knock my socks off. I guess I had the patience to map Beaver's culinary terrain because the dishes I've liked (some I've really liked) and, as a result, I have been encouraged to try others.

My eighth time at Beaver's, occasioned by a friend's birthday, ranks among my better visits. I ordered my standby po'boy substituting chips for a side of Mac & Cheese. Beaver's delicious macaroni and cheese is of the "wet" variety. The noodles wallow in a decadent sauce comprising three different cheeses as opposed to "dry," whereby the noodles are coated by a dense cheese mixture. I often finding myself dipping stray bits of my sandwich rolls into the extraneous cheese sauce, fondue style.

The birthday girl let me try a few bites of her order, the TX Longhorn Meatloaf, one of Beaver's new entrees. This rich mound of ground chuck and spices is wrapped in bacon and dressed with a lovely ham gravy. One might reasonably conclude the addition of the bacon coating could induce pork shock, but its soft, silky consistency actually provided a lovely contrasting fat texture to that of the heartier, ever-so-slightly crumbly beef.

Given that I left stuffed but still craving more of a taste of the Entrée Not Ordered, I'm sure I'll return. It's not always the best of times at Beaver's, but they still manage to hit the spot for me more often than not.

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