Brisket. It’s not the most common menu item at our barbecue restaurants. Good brisket in Mobile is a rare find, which usually leaves us with pork, chicken and occasionally turkey. Even home cooks shy away from brisket, maybe because of the patience it takes to smoke this cut of meat.
Low and slow is the usual name of the game for most smoking, but especially brisket. The pectoral muscle of the cow is what we are dealing with here, and that comes with a lot of connective tissue. The trick is to melt this tissue (slowly) without drying the meat. It’s a task that can be somewhat daunting for the lazy backyard setup, but the risk versus reward is great. Knock it out of the park and you are the talk of the neighborhood.
It was just the other day when speaking to Roy Clark, general manager of The Haberdasher, that our friendly conversation turned to brisket. Roy is a person to whom you should pay attention when it comes to food. He’s thin as a rail but has a good background. He’s known for his sidewalk crawfish. He took a four-city taco vacation with Frankie Little as research for the (fantastic) menu at Rooster’s. He gets the preview of everything that is created in The Haberdasher kitchen, which falls on my short list of where to eat in Mobile. In short, he’s around a lot of great meals.
So Roy, being from the Bayou, tells me there’s a spot down there with great brisket. Due South Grill & BBQ is the name of the joint and I knew we’d better get there fast.
Located in the former Von’s building, Due South was a quick 20 minutes or so from my house. I have a “you fly, I’ll buy” policy and he gladly drove us to his original neck of the woods, where we found a friendly, open dining room, sparsely populated at 11 a.m. Perfect.
A round of teas, sweet for him, unsweet for me — which I later turned into an Arnold Palmer — and we were staring at the appetizers. I was tempted by the Fried Wickedly Delicious Pickles, which I assume are Wickles, but ended up ordering the Holy Fries ($7.99). Loaded fries are becoming quite the thing this season and these were a bit on the devilish side with pulled pork, sharp cheddar, mozzarella and the chef’s special chipotle sauce.
Though the chipotle sauce was better than good, the fries were so plentiful. We asked for hot sauce and there was none to be found. We were delighted to get a squirt bottle of their spicy barbecue sauce, though. An excellent balance to their regular sauce — I could see it making its way to a bottling facility.
Roy was raving about the green beans he’d gotten on his last visit. I knew he’d pull the trigger on them when he ordered the 2 Meat Entrée ($10.99). His second side was coleslaw. For his meats, the slender fellow started without hesitation with the brisket. After all, that’s what this trip is about, isn’t it? A little indecision followed by an, “oh, what the heck” landed spare ribs on his plate.
The brisket had the smoke ring those Kansas City boys all look for. It also had flavor. The fork-tender beef was living up to the hype. I will say the ribs, served dry, were killer. The rub was dusty and fantastic, and I really loved it with the spicy sauce.
It’d be nice if I could tell you about the slaw or those prized green beans, but Mr. Selfish didn’t get the memo. I’ll take that to mean he loved them.
Not to be outdone by Roy’s double meat, I upped the ante with the 3 Meat Entrée ($11.99). Are you kidding me? For one dollar more, I was three meats deep into this plate. With another helping of brisket, locally made sausage and chicken breasts, we tackled every protein Due South had to offer.
I’d like to think my brisket was even a little better than Roy’s. The sausage was slightly spicy with a bit of cheese inside, just barely cooked, and was really good. It’s the chicken that is deserving of a few words.
I have never been much of a fan of white meat, though I spent my high school years frying up breasts in an all-chicken fast-food restaurant. I’m a thigh man to the bone. But these guys cooked up an excellent chicken breast, smoked juicy and sliced cross-grained. This is where the barbecue sauce really shines.
Homemade mac-n-cheese was a recommended side but it was nowhere near as good as the baked beans.
Of course this is a barbecue joint, so the dessert is banana pudding. We already had too much to take home as it was. No use in adding to our bill.
In one visit the only thing we missed out on were hamburgers (one of which is a double-patty cheeseburger topped with pulled pork) and the Due South Baked Potato ($7.99). It’s your normal cheddar, chives, real bacon, butter, sour cream topped with pulled pork. An option of brisket or queso is an extra charge.
These guys do catering, sell by the rack or pound and have family sides to go for very good prices. It’s a young business, but I think they will do well if they stay the course.
With pounds of food in our laps we made the way back home and found room in our respective refrigerators for our to-go boxes, but mine didn’t last long. After a fun night on the town I came home and polished off the rest of my ‘cue.
Thanks, Roy, for a great recommendation. Keep them coming. You were right about this one. If you want good brisket, the direction is Due South.
Grill and BBQ
12953 N. Wintzell Ave.
Bayou La Batre 36509