June 9th, 2010
T-Bone Tom is thy Name, Barbecue be thy Game
In 6 Words: Smoked, Fried, Sun, Checkered, Seagulls, Established
When the idea of heading down to T-Bone Tom’s in Kemah was pitched to me, my first thought was, “What? The place visited by the blonde Corey Feldman on the Food Network?” However, since I’ve been meaning to go there for some time, I acquiesced. Driving down Highway 146 to the foot of the Kemah bridge, I had visions of beef brisket and catfish dance in my head. Upon arrival, I wasn’t disappointed, as we opened our car doors to the smell of smoked meats and fried breading. Before I had even reached the front door just past the life-sized cow statue, my mouth is salivating.
As I open the door to a long pathway that leads to the back patio, the smell of slowly cooked meats flows in waves. To the left of the kitchen lies an open courtyard with the hostess stand. Having arrived early at 5:30, we are seated with in ten minutes, not bad on the busiest night of the week.
Upon being seated at our outside table, not a second passes before our waiter greets us, encouraging cold beer for this evening’s beverages. Who are we to disagree? Saint Arnold, Dos Equis, and Samuel Adams are ordered without hesitation coupled with an order of Armadillo Eggs. Sitting here in the hot evening sun, sweat gathering on my temples, I sip my beer and quietly mouth Weezer’s “Undone” as it drifts over the increasingly crowded patio.
Our Armadillo Eggs arrive to the most eager appetites. I cut mine in half, exposing the slowly smoked barbecue brisket and jalapeno. What ensues can only be described as gastro bliss, as the brisket is tender and juicy, mingling softly with the aggressive acids of the jalapeno, which are in turn subdued by the crunch of the seasoned breading. We finish all four eggs on the plate with a sense of accomplishment, having conquered one item on the menu. Next: the Main Course.
We order the Two Meat Plate with sliced brisket, pulled pork, potato salad and coleslaw, the Fried Catfish with green beans and hush puppies, the Paradise Cheese Burger, and the Tom’s Choice Rib Eye. As our waiter leaves with our requests, the evening’s live music begins. Steel drums and bongos resonate as our next round of beers arrives. The band continues with tales of salt water adventures, Jimmy Buffet envy and high school in the 70’s, all of which make for good conversation in this mixed crowd.
Our food is brought to the table after the third round of beers. It’s surprisingly fast service for an establishment that is now bursting at the fence. I quickly dig into my pulled pork, slicing through the jalapenos and carmelized onions that cover it. While the taste of these toppings and the pork are delicious, the somewhat dry and tough consistency of the meat itself is distracting. My brisket is exactly as expected. Amazing! No sauce required on this smokey, splintering treat. The potato salad is simply good, nothing quite sets it apart from any other barbecue joint. The same can be said for the cole-slaw. The Fried Catfish, after we all try a bite, is agreed to be the best we’ve had, period. The Tom’s Choice Rib Eye is also stated as having no equal. The Paradise Burger comes close to the incredibly high standard in burgers set by Tom’s former neighbor, Tookie’s.
With our bellies full, we sit drinking another round of beers. It isn’t until the band breaks from their set that we have a catalyst for departure. As our waiter tallies the final damage of an evening’s barbecue and beer indulgence, I find a peace of mind only known on a sun-drenched patio in a Houston June. The waiter rouses me out of my trance to collect my portion of the bill, to which I oblige. We leave just as the band returns to the stage and I am reminded of my own return to the inner Loop. Longer than I’d prefer, but after this evening, T-Bone Tom’s was definitely worth the drive.
Where –707 Highway 146, Kemah, TX 77565 (View Map)
What – Your Neighbor’s Cookout
Wear – Anything you’d wear in front of your Momma
How Much – Reasonable, even Tom’s Choice Rib Eye and that comes to $25
When – Open 7 Days a Week until 2 a.m.
Web – Homepage; Facebook