The first time we sampled the cooking of Clyde Biggins, the former Dallas BBQ king who is trying to make a comeback after nearly 17 years in prison, we arrived with about 10 Posse members and friends.
The food was great. So was the company.
That was a month ago. Since then, Clyde's fame has grown, even though he still doesn't have a joint of his own, just a portable smoker.
When we arrived Friday for another lunch sampler, we were more than 30 strong, all anxious to taste Clyde's brisket, ribs and sausage.
"It was better than the first time," said Posse member Jim Rossman. He rated the ribs a 10, the brisket 8 and the sausage "outstanding."
Posse member Libby Jacobson lives in Austin. She was headed to Dallas anyway for the weekend and started her trip early just to join the crowd at Clyde's, set up in the huge front yard of his home.
"It was totally worth the drive," said Jacobson, my daughter. She especially liked the texture, juiciness and flavor of the sausage.
She pointed out that Posse members are often disappointed in a lack of smoke flavor and ask, where's the smoke?
"There's no need to ask that question when it comes to Clyde," she said.
Rossman and Jacobson were among those served first. Opinions weren't quite so favorable for those served later, like me.
To begin serving, Clyde sliced and sampled a couple of briskets before he found one he liked. He placed the others back on the pit.
By the time he got to the end of the line, though, he had to serve the briskets he had earlier rejected. The brisket I had was chewy and the ribs were undercooked. Both would have benefited from considerable more pit time.
By contrast, the rib I had earlier pinched from Libby's plate was, indeed, terrific.
It's a testament to just how difficult it is to cook consistently good barbecue, especially as volumes grow.
When we talked to Clyde a month ago, one of the idea's he was considering for his comeback was a food truck. He has since abandoned that idea and is looking for a permanent place to operate. One potential landlord dined with us. He and Clyde were talking as we left.
The Posse wishes you the best of luck, Clyde. We want to be there when you open your new joint.
Photo by Jeff Lautenberg