Statesman critic Matthew Odam reviewed Interstellar BBQ this week and found “exceptional” smoked meats. He applauded Noble Sandwich Company’s decision to switch its far northwest location to barbecue in an already-crowded market (the Brentwood location remains dedicated to sandwiches).
Of the brisket, Odam described it as “rippled with melted fat and girded by an onyx crust,” and noted that even the lean version is better than some fatty briskets he has had. He praised the pastrami brisket, calling it “one of the best cuts of beef I’ve had this year,” an honor he also bestowed upon its jalapeno cheese sausage:
The Brisket Banger, made with prime brisket trimmings, glows burnt orange from its fine-grain center, the flavor smoked paprika the most dominant after the snap ($6/link). Some claim anyone can make a good sausage by stuffing it with cheese, but Interstellar makes the best sausage I’ve eaten this year, the cheddar oozing from the jalapeno-flecked sausage comprised of equal parts beef and pork shoulder ($6/link).
He also gives Insterstellar credit for modernizing its side dishes, like the “crunchy and refreshing” zucchini and tomato salad and scalloped potatoes that he said “will change the way you think about spuds forever.” He rated the restaurant a very high, giving it a 9 out of 10.
Melanie Haupt reviewed McGuire Moorman Hospitality Cali-Tex-Mex diner Joann’s for the Chronicle, and had high praise for all aspects of the experience except the food. Though she expected sticker shock from the South Congress restaurant at the Austin Motel, she didn’t find the food justified the price point.
The common theme of Haupt’s visits seem to be mountains of food that ranged from forgettable to fine. The Bodega Sando came out with “what looked like a lifetime supply of sprouts.” Her husband tried that much-talked-about $32 chicken fried steak, which she thought was a bit salty, but he enjoyed.
The items Haupt enjoyed the most were the Swedish Hill Bakery’s sweet roll during brunch (“tender, moist, and appropriately slathered with gooey icing”), the flour tortillas, and the South of Fresno cocktail (“smoky and spicy-sweet, a pointed reminder that mezcal is almost never a bad idea”). She called the breakfast dishes “unremarkable” with “nondescript” migas and “forgettable” banana-blueberry-coconut bread.
What Haupt did like about the restaurant was the decor (“The commitment to the mid-century diner aesthetic was complete”) and, questionably, the service. While she said she received top-notch service, she also pointed out being “silently assessed a to-go fee” and finding a rubber band in her beans.
Haupt summed up her Joann’s experiences by saying:
my expectation is that if I’m going to pay $19 for a bowl of beans and rice or $14 for a plate of migas, I want those to be the best, most crave-worthy versions of those dishes imaginable. What we had at Joann’s ain’t it.