Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Dining critic candidate No. 10

Get’R Done – Cowboy Kitchen – Texas-Style BBQ Worth Talking About



Having both lived in the south for several years we have been spoiled by great barbeque. Upon moving to Colorado, we yearned for barbeque, but became increasingly disappointed when time and time again the product did not come close to our expectations.


We visited a very small Texas-style barbeque ‘cabin’ in Divide, 25 miles west of Colorado Springs after hearing rave reviews from some of the locals.


The Cowboy Kitchen has been in operation for one and one half years and is owned by Texans Debbie and Jeff Harper. The restaurant is a small, old log cabin seating only 14 people. Jeff smokes all of his meats on-site with oak and occasionally some mesquite. Unsure of the definition of “Texas-style” barbeque, we asked.


“Texas-style barbeque is smoking strictly the meat. There are no sauces or dry-rubs. Nothing is added,” said Debbie. “Our meats are smoked for about 18 hours.”


And if you’re looking for meat, they have it. The menu is simple. They serve smoked ribs, brisket, pulled pork, chopped pork, sausage and chicken. For a modest $10 you can get your choice of two meats and two sides. Sides include pinto beans, Mexican rice, potato salad and coleslaw.


They also make all their own sauces. We both thought the spicy, tangy barbeque sauce with slight garlic and crushed red pepper undertones was tasty. They also make their own hot sauces and try new recipes all the time so you never know what you may get. At our visit there was a green jalapeño sauce – mild, but excellent and a sweet habanera sauce that was sweet, hot, but not over the top and delicious.


We chose a sampling of ribs, brisket, chicken and pulled pork and tried all four sides.


The ribs were by far the best meat. They fell right off the bone, were lean, moist and had a nice smoky flavor. As for the brisket and pulled pork, neither had much of a smoky taste at all, rather more like a bland roast. They definitely needed the addition of one of the sauces.


As for the chicken leg and thigh, we disagreed. Mrs. C thought it did have a nice flavor. And, albeit, the drumstick was a little dry, the thigh was juicy. Mr. C thought the chicken was quite dry and had little flavor. He doused it in habanera sauce and we moved on.


Neither one of us cared for the potato salad. It was riddled with so much mustard one could have taken a heaping tablespoon of yellow mustard and eaten that instead. Mrs. C spit out her bite. Yes, it was that bad.


Both of us love coleslaw. In fact, we feel our combined pallets might make us coleslaw connoisseurs. But being so discerning does have its drawbacks. We’re often quite disappointed with what we get at restaurants. So when we mutually agree that the coleslaw at the Cowboy Kitchen is among the best, most unique we’ve tried, we mean it. The secret? Lime juice.


“It’s a simple recipe,” said Debbie. “Red and green cabbage, carrots, mayonnaise, sugar and lime juice.”


Our biggest complaint is that none of the food was served hot. All the meats were lukewarm. This may, however, have had something to do with the outdoor temperatures hovering near zero degrees. But if one can get past that, there are several other positive things to say about the Cowboy Kitchen. The portions are enormous. Each order will net you over one pound of meat.


The restaurant is clean and the owners are quite hospitable, something that seems to be harder and harder to find these days.


If you go, arrive early. This little establishment is also a local secret. They go through approximately 1500 pounds of meat in just three days and it is not uncommon that some or all of the meat will be sold out.


“We just can’t keep up,” said Debbie. “We sell out almost every day. We’re fixin’ to get another smoker by summer.”


So the next time you’re headed back from a day of skiing or have a weekend to get out and explore Teller County, stop by the Cowboy Kitchen. But go with an appetite.


“We don’t want anyone going away hungry,” said Debbie.


Trust us; you won’t.


[sidebar]


AT A GLANCE

Mr. C Mrs. C

Cuisine Above Average Average

Hospitality Excellent Excellent

Value for the Money Excellent Excellent

Likelihood to Return Absolutely Maybe


Cowboy Kitchen

Northwest Corner of Highways 24 & 67

Divide, CO

686-9090

Open Fri/Sat 12pm-6pm, Sun 1pm-5pm

2 Comments:

Anonymous Submission Reviewer said...

Although the review did have good food and atmosphere detail, the excessive paragraphing and wandering commentary made it difficult to want to read. What it definitely had in good review coverage was largely diminished by a lack of professionalism.

9:04 AM  
Blogger Warren Epstein said...

FYI. "submission reviewer" is not associated with the Gazette.

10:38 AM  

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