Thursday, April 3, 2008

Restaurant Review: The Bar-B-Que Nazi


Here's a rare restaurant review here at Under The Weather. At the recommendation of a friend, a bunch of us got together last night for some bar-b-que before heading over to Argyle Eagle's to check out his model railroad.

We hit Lee's HickorySmoked Bar-B-Que in the little town of Haslet, a few miles north of our home here in Fort Worth, on the highway to Ponder and Justin on FM 156. It's right in downtown Haslet, across the railroad tracks from the highway. A few miles west of I35W.

Lee's has been in Haslet for years--it claims to be celebrating its 25th anniversary. It'd been several years since I'd last visited the place, but it hadn't changed. Great Bar-B-Que. What sets Lee's apart, though, is the service. Or lack of. It's a Texas version of "The Soup Nazi" from the old Seinfeld show.

Glad we weren't there during the "lunch rush." Be prepared for a wait. When our group arrived, there was one customer ahead of us. He was ordering what seemed like several pounds of meat. Lee was behind the counter, the only one working there, apparently (his daughter was in the dining area, sitting at a table, eating a pint of ice cream while watching television), laboriously cutting the meat and weighing out each small scrap. . . making. . . sure. . . not. . . to. . . serve. . . one. . . gram. . . too. . . much.

Eventually it was our turn to order. This is one of those places where you've got to know the secret protocol for ordering to be successful. Apparently, the rule is don't speak unless you are spoken to (or else you'll be ignored). And don't order any french fries. Though they are fresh, and cut to order--for EACH order!-- and deep-fried (seemingly in a verrry slow deep-fryer, probably at around 120 degrees), if you order fries you'll immediately go to the back of the line in terms of serving. None of that "you're fries will be a minute, but if you take your meat and vegetable, I'll bring 'em out to you when they're ready." Nope. "Who DOESN'T need fries?" Lee would ask, and everyone behind would move to the front.

When it is time for the ritual of the meat weighing, Lee disappears, returning with a single dinner plate, which he had apparently just washed. This happened with each customer. Each. Plate. Individually. Washed. After the potato-cutting, the dish-washing, and the meat-weighing, you should have your meal in around 20 minutes or so. For us, from the time we entered, second in line, until our fries were cooked and our meal was presented to us, it took us 30 minutes. By then, of course, the folks we were eating with had already well consumed most of their dinner.

You're given your meal over the counter and head for a table. Need a straw? There are just a couple left. Need a napkin? There's a single small sheet (4 X 8" or so) of paper towel at each place at the table. Don't see any other rolls of paper towel or napkins around. More utensiles? Don't see any. Why not ask for it? And put up with Lee's icy stare and air of indifference whether or not you're satisfied as a customer? Right. You will suffer in silence and enjoy your sausage!

This review may seem unfairly harsh. The food was first-rate. But there are many places to get bar-b-que in the area where the food is at least as tasty, where your presence as a customer isn't looked upon as an inconvienence. The place is what it is, which is apparently fine with Lee. You're obviously in HIS house here. And you got to play by his rules.

It WAS an experience, though.


Pat Flynn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Mighty Oz said...

Well, there's always that "it's back again, for a limited time only"-

McRIB sandwich.


Whiskey said...

I stopped at Lee's once several years ago. After seeing a train crew step across the street there once, I figured it HAD to be at least halfway decent...

Lee seemed to be on a first-name basis with some of the other customers there. I don't remember him being a real hard-ass about my order, but I don't remember the food being all that great, either.

I've been to Angelo's and Swinford's and all that... for my money, I really enjoy Saginaw's "Texas Pit BBQ" (the yellow happy face place) the most -- here in north Texas, anyway. Down in Lockhart, however...