Don’t know if Horace, the Roman poet who lived a couple thousand years ago, was a barbecue fan.
But if he was and if he were around today, he would probably like Brotherton’s Black Iron Barbecue in Pflugerville. If for nothing else than the sign on the front window.
“Carne Diem,” it says, a play on Horace’s immortal phase, “carpe diem,” commonly translated “seize the day.”
The Brotherton’s sign is a mashup of Spanish and Latin. The joint translates the bilingual phrase “Season the Day.” Very nice. A more literal translation could be “Meat Day.”
And there is plenty of meat to be had at Brotherton’s, traditional Texas barbecue and a large variety of creative sandwiches including brisket grilled cheese, pastrami rueben, smoked cheeseburger, turkey pesto, and fried chicken with bacon, tomatoes and spinach.
We went for the brisket grilled cheese along with regular brisket, pork ribs, turkey, and smoked orange chicken, a dark meat quarter.
There were three of us touring together, me, Posse co-founder Chris Wilkins and his friend Randy Mallory. We met photo maestro Wyatt McSpadden at Brotherton’s and he gave us a preview of his new book about Texas barbecue that released in late June. It looks terrific.
Generally, we liked the meat at Brotherton’s. We had a difference of opinion about the turkey, whether it could have used a stronger rub, but the brisket was good, as was the jalapeño sausage and the ribs.
“The ribs are great,” Wilkins said. “Cooked right, tender. They knock what we had yesterday right out of the box.”
The previous day we had eaten at Whitfield’s, a new trailer joint in South Austin.
The smoked orange chicken also was very tasty. But again, just as we experienced at Whitfield’s, the more we dug into the serving the more we thought it was slightly undercooked. Cooking chicken can be challenging.
As for the brisket grilled cheese sandwich, we all agreed it was an interesting concept, but we weren’t sure we would order it again.
“Too much cheese,” Mallory said.
Brotherton's Black Iron Barbecue is a partnership between well-known Central Texas pitmaster John Brotherton and Kelly Gerry, who owned a sandwich shop called Black Iron Eats that started using John's smoked meats on sandwiches, leading to the current alliance. Last week, Brotherton announced a new restaurant partnership in Round Rock, Liberty Barbecue, which he and restaurateur Tre Dotson hope to open by Sept. 1.
Brotherton’s Black Iron BBQ, 15608 Spring Hill Ln #105, Pflugerville, 512-547-4766. Open Tues-Sat 11am-8pm.