Kreuz Market opened up its second location (under its own name and ownership) in Bryan, Texas on Monday, February 2, 2015. It was a glorious day for the residents of Brazos County.
The staff here at The Best of Texas were there on opening day, and have frequented the restaurant several times over the last few weeks, sampling the Holy Trinity of Barbecue (beef brisket, pork ribs, and sausage) in addition to the beef ribs, prime rib, smoked pork chops, shoulder clod, and more!
But here at The Best of Texas, the only meats that go towards a venue’s rating is the Holy Trinity of BBQ, so those offerings were sampled repeatedly. What can we say, it’s a hard job, but somebody’s got to do it!
Marco, one of the pit masters at the Bryan location (pictured here with Lee, the other pit master), came from Schmidt Family Barbecue in Bee Cave, Texas, which is one of the restaurants owned and operated by members of the Schmidt family (who also own Kreuz Market.) Marco has trained at the Lockhart location, and has a great staff helping him turn out their signature meats.
The smoke room houses two smokers and a warming cabinet, in addition to the firebox for the warming box that resides inside. The smoke room is a smaller room just off the serving line with large garage doors opening it up to the outdoors.
Briskets are smoked in a Bewley smoker, which is an extremely efficient wood-burning smoker which an electric damper system, which allows the smoking process to continue through the night without the need for round-the-clock staff. The briskets are put into the large Bewley smoker at 5:30 p.m., and retrieved at 10:30 a.m. the next day in anticipation for the lunch rush.
The second smoker is a traditional offset smoker designed especially for this location. The smoker has three large smoke chambers, and a good size firebox to keep things going for a long time. The smoker uses tuning plates to keep the heat consistent across the chamber, and is equipped with a series of temperature gauges at the same level as the three interior meat racks to monitor the cooking temperature. Marco uses the offset smoker for pork ribs primarily.
The location has a great look and feel, and is a nice place to enjoy some great food. Unlike other BBQ joints across Texas, Kreuz Market has a large (air conditioned) dining room, has a full bar as you come in, and is easy to get to right off Highway 6 (with plenty of parking!) The menu is straightforward – meat is priced by the pound. No plate specials, or combos, or sandwiches. You just tell the nice lady taking your order what kind of meat you want, and how much, and they put it on your tray for you. Sides can be had as well, and deserts for those who need more than just what protein can give them.
But be warned, Kreuz Market is known for their traditions, and those include “NO FORKS” and “NO SAUCE.” If you forget these traditions, you will be warned as you come in, and again as you go to fetch your trimmings. Frankly, the no sauce tradition is consistent with the philosophy shared by the staff at The Best of Texas. If sauce is used, or (heaven forbid) a sandwich is made of the barbecue, rest assured, the barbecue is terrible. Truly great barbecue needs no sauce, and to put it on bread would be an insult to the pitmaster. However, the no forks thing is a bit weird, seeing as they serve sides and other foods that really NEED a stabbing instrument!
Ordering beef brisket is tricky. A brisket has two distinct sections: the lean brisket and the moist brisket. If you think you want lean brisket, might I suggest the chicken? I mean really, why don’t you just go to the salad joint down the street? If you walked into Kreuz Market, there is a certain expectation that you came to enjoy GOOD food. Why settle for dry, leathery lean brisket when you could just as easily order the moist brisket, which is the stuff of legends? So around here, if the word brisket is used, it is ASSUMED (unless stated otherwise) that the author meant moist brisket.
The brisket (and again, reading comprehension would require the reader to recognize that the author means the moist brisket) is very good. The bark (on all pieces sampled) was excellent! The fat was rendered nicely, resulting in fairly juicy and tender meat. The flavor of the brisket is above average, with a great smoke flavor. This is some seriously yummy meat! However, it was also noticed that the meat, as you got away from the flavorful bark, was a bit dry and boring. Senior Barbecue Editor Felix Cox noted, “the bark and fat was good, but once you got into the meat it was too dry.” It was observed that every bite really needed a piece with bark, or it just wasn’t that good. One guest was heard to remark “where’s the sauce” in reaction to eating the inside portions of the meat, away from the tasty outside crust. The texture was a bit stringy, and did not fall apart like the brisket at Black’s or Franklin’s. But with this being said, it is still the best beef brisket in the Brazos Valley!
The sausage (original sausage, save the jalapeno sausage for extracurricular activities) was “reminiscent of the great Lockhart sausages”, opined Chris Carver, Barbecue Commentator. The sausage is obviously handmade, and comes in rings, the ends tied with a string. The texture was a medium-loose pack with a crispy casing that snapped. On some days that sausage was dry, and others it was wet, dripping with grease. I prefer a dry sausage, but not overly so. There has been no consistency with this sausage so far, so you might want to specify what you want when you place your order. The flavor of the sausage is really great – albeit heavily peppered.
The pork ribs had lots of flavor! Delicious smoke-filled goodness! The outside was crispy, if not tough, but the inside was tender, but a bit dry. It is hard to keep a pork rib juicy, as they are typically pretty thin cuts of meat on the bone. It was noted by Will Davis, Barbecue Editor, that the pork ribs maintained their structure very well, not falling off the bone. This was to its credit, making it easy to devour! Perfectly seasoned.
The staff expects to return again and again to Kreuz Market to enjoy sampling their offerings. While some criticism did exist, it was important to note that the staff fully expects Kreuz Market – Bryan to get better with time. As stated by Felix Cox, “it is already hands down the best barbecue in Bryan/College Station.”