June 27th Bill Miller Bar B Que
Burnet Road, Austin Tx
Proudly brought to you by “ Texas Mike “ liver and lover from Austin Texas
So the other night I somehow conned my special lady into eating some fine-ass mothergrabbin bar b que from an unassuming source, Bill Miller Bar B Que, here in lovely Austin, Texas. The adventure began when I started considering some new spots to review for this website. Bill Miller is truly an awesome place and is a comforting and friendly reminder of the Austin of old; the Austin I remember from visiting my father during the summers of my youth in the 1970′s. It has not changed. The area around Anderson and Burnet road is a familiar one that I clearly recall from my days jammed in a Mazda RX7 two seater with my brother, literally jammed together in the seat wrapped in an annoying and hot seatbelt and looking out the window and into the new west. A lot has changed in that area, so much so that I can honestly not recall what was where but I remember an ,”Arthur Treachers Fish and Chips,” where the Jack In The Box is now. I’d eat at an Arthur Treacher’s but ney would I?deign to dine in any Jack In The Box son, that’s fact. In the same column of stucco nightmare strip mall maze there are a few, I mean a couple of businesses that have remained fixtures to that central North Austin locale and Bill Miller has remained. The restaurant remains suspended in animation, a moss icon of bell-weather good taste and comfort that I found fascinating and the subject of many a daydream when I returned to suburban Maryland after summer vacation.
The sign in front of the place is the same fucking one they had in the 70′s. A classic molded in the shape of perhaps a small barn or tiny shack where said bar b que is slowly mastered and cooked in old world style as it has been since some fat dude decided he had a new idea how to cook chicken and beef and pork. Inside the white sign and it’s western-style lettering are childlike cutouts of a pig, a cow and a chicken. It calls to me on site even when I am not hungry, like a titty bar or a church. Yes, it is still that good.
It seems as if the near tome of a menu and decor have probably not changed since the late 1970′s. When you enter you are greeted by an orange shirted and what seemed genuinely friendly and engaging and sort of goofy young dude who seemed actually happy to be taking our order. Nice touch Bill. As we stuttered and fumbled through possible scenarios featuring chickens and sausage and pork ribs and brisket and went back and forth on menu items my date intimated that she had a familiarity with the side dishes and made some key suggestions.?
“Get the hash browns, they are really good, trust me dude.”
Ok, sounds good. We ran through the list of options and possibilities out loud as the helpful and patient young man waited and made interjections periodically and mentioned some of the lesser known options we may have slept on. I looked around the guy at the register at the glowing area where a pimply faced youngster pulled our brisket out of some sort of heated apparatus and slapped it on an old wooden cutting board and began slowly slicing the lean and pretty amazing looking beef. We bandied about on what to do and decided to get a small dinner option which includes two meats and three sides. We opted for a third meat and ended up with pork ribs, beef brisket and an enormous donger of a sausage along with an assortment of sides that included rice (Spanish), beans and hash browns along with a nice little loaf of home-made bread made right there in their bakery! Little loaf man! Made right there son! That’s awesome. They don’t farm out their beans and bread, they do it all right there, in house! Yes, true Mom and Pop still exists in central Texas. Amazing really, no one stop shopping through the nation’s number one provider of beans, bread, pickles and onions, nope, they make all that shit right there. Even the bread.?
In any event, we continued our perusal of steam table goodness and my mouth watered as I saw my food being prepped and wrapped in tin foil and put into tiny?separate?bags and little containers with the ,”Bill Miller Bar B Que,” logo, pigs and cows and chickens and all, printed on the side. Reusable I might add for those of you concerned with some sort of environmental cause or other, so over-packaging and pointless containerisms are not an issue here. Sometimes things like butcher paper and brown paper bags can suggest an otherwise wonderful time before all the fears of a million empty, “Lunchable,” containers suffocated and crushed out billions of square mileage of rainforest and can be a real boon to your dining experience. They take the time to pack everything in little containers and tin-foil and wrap it all up in a brown paper bag that just screams, “You can’t get this kind of goodness anywhere anymore, son!” I have to say I was beyond pleased and the?aesthetic of the adventure just to the restaurant itself was a tiny moment back in time that I truly enjoyed and relished. The service was excellent and Bill Miller is hands down a classy dude for doin’ it real big STILL. Hats off to this dude for doing like it should be done. No fusions or slightly Korean bents on the bar B que , sushi pizza. Nuthin’ but meat and potatoes, for real.
Upon returning home I can honestly admit I could have eaten in the restaurant. I hate eating out honestly. Having to look at other people and their gourmondizing and loud, slowly getting drunk-talk has absolutely no appeal to me, especially when I am trying to commune with my food dude. I tend to notice the one, grating voice at a table of seven that cackles and gets right in my ear with that loud, over everyone else in the restaurant, voice that I have to try to block out so I am not compelled to get up and go over and strangle some unaware sorority girl who somehow has been served 3 Mexican martinis and is donning a tiny, pink sombrero and getting on my nerves. No, in this case, when we went in and I saw all the olds and fats dining in what appeared to be near bliss in overwhelming Western motif and wooden booths I could not help but want to stay and eat among them. I ?can attest to um, NEVER feeling like that about any restaurant I go into, really. I eat out at restaurants to appease my lovely girlfriend and to curry her favor and winsome charms, not because I enjoy eating at some Bahaus inspired building that infuses Chinese-Mexican cuisine in an overpriced experience I could have done without and led a full and satisfying life time without. In this case though, Bill Miller’s clean and comfortable and cozy old-style dining room looked great. I plan to eat there again soon and to actually try to enjoy the entire time I am there, dining, in house.
The food itself was sublime. Truly outstanding everything, and I mean that. The brisket was lean and still moist and melted in my mouth like butter and the ribs were awe inspiring and so worth the trip. I highly?recommend?the brisket and pork ribs, both were phenomenal and could stand on their own, in their own right. The sausage was well, sausage and although enormous and as you can see in the photos it was pretty good as well but not the standout of the meal. The sides were good as well, the beans were a little too?re-fried?for my taste, I tend to like the ,”Borracho,” or,”Drunk,” beans or just plain pintos. These were more of a Ranch-Style type of bean and I can truly admit disappointment only here, with the beans. The rice was great and had peppers and other boss stuff you’d expect in some decent Spanish rice, stuck together but was not that mushy shit you can scoop out with an ice cream scooper. No, this was that good, flaky rice that takes a deft hand to gather on the small surface of a fork and is usually better among rice and cheese inside of a tortilla but nonetheless the rice was wonderful. The hash browns were highly seasoned and near mashed potato, skin and all, and really hit the spot as far as that stick to your ribs kind of thing, hearty and hale, they were the best of the three sides. The loaf by the way, was also great and if not eaten during the meal would make great sandwiches I am sure.
In toto, the meal at Bill Miller I had longed for took me right back to a golden time in my life, I had indeed changed but Bill Miller, thankfully, had not. I trust if you live in the central Texas area or Austin or San Antonio you have been and will continue to patronize this Texas classic. No, it is not the place you will read about in the local hipster competition of food trailer savants and their dining gear will not resemble the table setting of the Ming dynasty or an African head-dress feast but it hits the spot if you are looking for comfort and ease and safe, “It’s a lock,” bar b que. I imagine all Bill Miller’s are pretty much the same having dined in another in Buda, Texas and the store in South Austin near highway I-H 35. I highly suggest the place if you are trying not to upset the apple cart with the discerning?palette’s of the elderly, children or even your parents and their oft way of treating most decisions you have made with that same suspect energy that somehow follows all of your interactions as of late. No, they will, regardless of dining druthers, find this establishment charming and wonderful, I guarantee it. If in central Texas at any time and you are unsure of which house of Sushi or Korean-Oaxacan sandwich trailer to choose from and you need a solid, a lock, a sure thing, don’t sleep on Bill Miller Bar B Que, it’s tops.?