***OK, WELL, THIS PLACE CLOSED, NOT BECAUSE OF THE FOOD, TOO BAD****
Ah the double quandary, I'm always on the lookout for new barbecue joints in town and then when they do open should I rush out and try it or give them some time to work out the kinks after a few weeks of customer feedback. Such was the issue with Hi Lo BBQ (they don't have a website yet just a twitter feed) a meat place from the folks who also did Maverick and Hog and Rocks, which just so happens to be across the street from Hi Lo. They've only been open about a week and a half but I was jonesing to try them so me and the SO schlepped over to 19th and Mission to strap on the feed bag. The entrance is misleading as it's a decent sized space once you walk in and yes it's lofty industrial with lots of wood.
It's an order at the counter and seat yourself place, so after a few minutes looking over the brief menu
We went with the beef brisket, sake-braised pork belly, collard greens and fried brussels sprouts.
The brisket came with dill pickles, Texas red sauce and a pull apart roll. The brisket was mostly decent, there were six slices and 4 of them were just on the edge of being over cooked and a bit dry and two slices were pull apart juicy and tender. They either came from different ends of the whole brisket or separate briskets, I'm not really sure, but it would have been nice to have some consistency. We preferred the tender juicy slices and wish there were more of them. The Texas sauce unfortunately was overwhelmed with vinegar--it was the first and last taste you got and anything dipped in it came up vinegar. The same can be said of the pickles--they were mega sour, I couldn't taste the dill or the cucumber, just the vinegar. And keep in mind I'm a fan of vinegar as I will put it in coleslaw, collards and sauce, but here it just was too much and I needed pallet cleanser to taste anything else. I did like the roll, it was soft and light, like a potato roll. It had bits of stuff in it but they didn't really add much but color. It would have been really great with some butter, which they have but for some reason don't serve with this dish.
Next was sake braised pork belly with a tare glaze (a sweet teriyaki style glaze) and side of cucumber sunonomo. I like pork belly and have had some good ones in this town at both AQ and Gioia Pizzeria, thus coming into a meat joint I had some high expectations. The first bite of this was good, the meat was quite tender and had a hint of teriyaki flavor from the glaze. Subsequent bites however, were not has good. Whatever sake they used seemed to taste like that fish sauce that is prevalent in so many Asian stir fry dishes and it did not go well with the fat that is a major part of the pork belly. One major thing missing is texture. There was no crispiness or char anywhere on the meat thus rendering the fat and meat the same consistency of soft mushiness. Neither I nor the SO could finish it, which is a rare occurrence for either of us. The side was merely cucumber, jalapenos and red peppers in vinegar (again!).
As for the sides, they were actually good and the best part of the meal. The collard greens were tender and mixed with house smoked bacon, a touch of vinegar and a touch of brown sugar with neither overpowering the other but mixing well together. The fried brussels sprouts were not too hard and not too soft and came with a pineapple chili glaze that wasn't cloying or too spicy but just right and a few crispy shallots. I really enjoyed both sides and the portions were quite hearty and could be made a meal out of .
Thus you see the dilemma of going some new place early on, some things work and some don't. In this case I have some hope that things will get better and I will probably go back as I could make a meal out of the rolls and some sides. I did see another diner get the pulled pork sandwich, which looked tasty, so I'd like to give that a try also. Another bummer was only two dessert choices--a pear pie bar or butterscotch cookies---ugh I do think they need to try harder in this area. So I'll say try it, but give 'em little more time.