Thursday, August 27, 2009

Review: H Butler Bar-B-Q

Why is it that as of lately, taking a chance on a new place to eat equates to massive disappointment? I remember not too long ago stopping in at a new mom and pop restaurant meant someone put their heart and soul into providing you with an experience that would be comparable to dining at their home. You know, something they would be proud to serve and say; "This is our family recipe." I'm not sure if this was once the scenario at H. Butler BBQ, but it's certainly not the scene there today.

My dining companion and I were famished this afternoon having sustained ourselves on coffee and sugar free butterscotch candies during a seminar we attended earlier. We found ourselves driving down El Camino looking for a place to get some lunch. Amass the countless now vacant restaurants we happened upon a sign that said BBQ. As we are barbecue lovers we decided to give it a try.

Walking into H Butler's BBQ did not set off any immediate alarms. It was approaching 2:30 so the few patrons inside would not be an indicator of the heinous BBQ violations that would unknowingly be committed. It's not the cleanest restaurant in which I have eaten, but if you know BBQ, you will know that some of the biggest dives produce some of the greatest food! Unfortunately, not the case here!

There were a couple of patrons at booths and no one in line so we walked straight up to the register. There was no one on the other side of the counter but the owner arrived in a reasonable amount of time. We ordered two lunch combo #4s; brisket and ribs, one with slaw and beans, the other with mac and cheese and beans, and both with corn muffin. Since I had decided I would review this place I ordered some sliced pork and a polish sausage ala carte. Denied! I was informed by the owner that they would no longer add extra meat to any orders since it would cause a huge slowdown in the kitchen and this would create a line or a crowd. Are you kidding me, there were three people in the place including the two of us? I told him I wouldn't force anyone to take more of my money than they wanted and concluded our order.

After about twenty minutes the first plate of food came out. It was accompanied by some crusty silverware that I asked the server to replace. The second plate of food and the new crust free silverware came about seven minutes later. I guess it's hard not to get side tract when you are walking across an empty restaurant.

On to the food, and I have to say I'm glad the owner wouldn't let me order any more. Can we talk brisket? I should rather starve than to eat this lousy brisket! It resembled a desiccated pot roast you might find in a hospital cafeteria. There was no smoke ring, no pinkness, and no flavor! I take that back there was a flavor, and that flavor was salt. It was so salty that it was barely edible at all; perhaps that's what drew all of the moisture out?

The pork ribs were a little more on the edible side. The seasoning was not as obtrusive, but also not great. I tried to put some barbecue sauce on them to help with the flavor only to find that it was fermented in the bottle. Prison wine with your brisket anyone?

The side dishes were equally horrendous; there was the bland and cold mac and cheese, baked beans straight from the can to the microwave, and the overly sweet and mushy, water logged coleslaw. I think the corn muffin deserves its own description as it was quite a bit worse than the other sides. This was without a doubt the single worst pastry I have ever put in my mouth. It was as if the muffin was perhaps baked from the corn husks instead of the corn itself. There was not even any butter served to help lubricate the walls of your esophagus enough to choke it down. I can only assume the baker ran out of flour and ground up a sheet of drywall to use in its place.

While H Butler's BBQ is permanently scratched out of my book of places to try, I still have hope that the mom and pop restaurant is alive and well. We need the charisma and personality of local, independent businesses to rise up and succeed so we are not left with just the cookie cutter chains and franchises.

568 E El Camino Real
Sunnyvale, CA 94087
(408) 738-4996


Donya said...

That's one sorry meal you had yourself. It's gotten to the point that I won't try anything new until I hear a good review from someone else. There are just too many "Mom & Pops" out there thinking they are great cooks and in reality they should be slinging hash in the land fill.

Thanks for sharing your experience and I'm glad you did not get sick.

TheGourmetGirl said...

Ouch! Perhaps the only silver lining is that you may have saved some poor foodie soul from wasting their resources and tastebuds!

Anonymous said...

I am sorry to hear you did not have a good experience here, but for someone that eats here literally every week I have had no problem.

Sounds like you ordered something and where not able to get it so you feel you did not get exceptional service for your money. This restaurant has clients such as KBLX, Yahoo, Intel, PGE and Lockheed . Do you think that high tech businesses such as these would have a restaurant serve them substandard food for catering events. No restaurant is perfect but let people make thier own decisions on the food. I think the food here is extremely delicious.

People just come and try the food yourself. I am glad there is a Great BBQ restaurant in Sunnyvale and alot of people from around the bay area come to eat here.

RoJo's Gourmet Blog said...

Hey Anonymous,

I came, I ate, I reported the facts. Nothing personal, the food was just crap. If you and the people you mentioned like to eat crap; so be it!