Freedmen's

For Father's Day we decided to go for the obvious choice - for BBQ!

 Freedmen's Website

Freedmen's Website

We're running out of options in Austin that don't involve standing in line.  It's Texas and the weather is in the 90s, so standing in line with two little kids isn't ideal.  And, it seemed like we should probably bring them for lunch on Father's Day.

While researching our Austin BBQ options, I had a hard time finding the website for Freedmen's because it didn't contain the word BBQ in any kind of obvious way.  Notice how smokehouse is ranked third on the description to the right, after "laid back lounge" and "beer garden" - so barbecue didn't seem like a priority.

I've never worked in the restaurant industry, but I have watched many many episodes of Kitchen Nightmares with Gordon Ramsey (both the British and the US versions).  One thing Gordon repeats over and over again is that you have to focus - it's better to have a small menu and have everything be awesome than have a gigantic menu and be terrible or just okay on many things.  

So, looking at the website, I had some misgivings going in.  

Freedman's Exterior

Freedmen's

 

2402 San Gabriel St,
Austin, TX 78705

 

#6 on the TX BBQ Passport
Fifth stop

We arrived right after 11 am.  There was a hostess stand to check in at, and the hostess asked us if we had a reservation. We didn't.  We waited about 15 min for a table, and said either inside or outside was fine.  

We got there early enough to park in the lot next to the restaurant and parked in a spot that was reserved for a hair place during its business hours (it wasn't open on Sunday.)  It's worth noting that parking is a mess, and it's such a mess that it's called out in the Texas Monthly BBQ issue.  

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We waited outside on the patio.  We ended up sitting in the most remote table possible - there's a red umbrella in the picture above where we ended up sitting.  And yes, this place is next to a 7-11.

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There is a very nice bar inside, though yes, pretty fancy for the typical BBQ joint.  There are also picnic tables outside.  

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There is also seating upstairs.  The seating appeared to be communal seating (the people in the middle table were also waiting when we were waiting and did not know each other.)

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There wasn't a really great place to wait for your table.  In this picture, the people standing were waiting, and there's also people trying to eat on this patio.    

I wore my normal BBQ eating clothes - shorts, t-shirt, and sneakers and as evidenced by the woman wearing a strapless dress, I was woefully under-dressed.  "Laid back lounge" this was not.  

There were also a large number of babies and dogs at this resurant.  

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The wood and the pits were out back.  You didn't get an opporutnity to interact with the pitmasters or see your food being prepared.  

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This is the menu.  Notice how is it not written on a board on a wall.  

I should note that many of the pictures have a red tint because we were sitting under a red umbrella and I was only willing to spend so much time editing these photos.  

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There was also this insane selection of hard alcohol.  And a menu with brunch cocktails.  

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We were given these metal tray / plates and silverware wrapped in a napkin.  The kids were excited to have silverware.

 We set the bar really low with that first trip to Kreuz.  

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The kids and their dad!

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We ordered the holy trinity plate (ribs, sausage, brisket) and turkey.  The sausage was my least favorite sausage so far.  The bite was weak and the interior was mealy.  It was not pre-cut, and I was destroying the paper lining trying to cut it.  My husband enjoyed it.  

The brisket had a nice bark.  We only received lean brisket, and it was very dry.

The turkey was good.  It's also just turkey, and therefore good is about the highest compliement you can pay it.  

The sauce was insanely spicy.  I didn't bother with it.

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The bread was focaccia.  It was good for focaccia, but had no business being at a BBQ joint.   It was impossible to make a sandwich with it.  

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We also ordered the "pit chili" which is described on the menu as chili.  It was not.  We explicitly ordered it for my son, who is totally over barbecue with 46 more places to visit.  It was spicy as all get out.  What I believe is happening is that they took some sort of meat, mixed it with the awful spicy BBQ sauce, and pretended it was chili.  

My son kept saying, " I can't get the spicy out of my mouth."

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As suggested by the Texas Monthly Magazine, we ordered the banana pudding and smoked chocolate mousse.  It did not tasted smoked.  My son loved the chocolate pudding and was annoyed that the serving size was not equal to the banana pudding size.

I found the chocolate pudding to be too rich and the banana pudding to be too bland.  

Talking to a friend recently, I mentioned that this was our worst barbecue experience so far and I would not be going back.  She replied, "I love Freedmen's!" but when pressed, had never ordered barbecue there, and was somewhat surprised it was a barbecue joint. 

Exactly.  

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With eating at Freedmen's, we completed the first of the 10 challenges in the BBQ passport - the new kids on the block (eating at 2 of the new list restaurants.)   To pick up the prizes, you have to go to the Yeti store, where you can also leave with a poster highlighting the various meat segments. 

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And here the husband and I are in our first prize - Yeti hats!