Corkscrew BBQ has landed in a permanent home, after several years as a traveling, catering only business. The newly repainted, pink on black (their signature colors) trailer has been all but permanently parked just up Budde Road from the Sawdust Road Commuter Parking area and the Orwall Baseball and Softball fields. The location is perfect, albeit a bit hidden from Sawdust Road, it allows for a healthy amount of traffic to see and stop by on your way home from the office, before and after a good game, or anytime the mood strikes you for a good plate of barbecue.
We sat down with Will and Nichole, owners, chef and chief bottle washers of Corkscrew, to sample their wares and find out more about their plans to become one of the best Barbecue Restaurants in The Woodlands. They were happy to share their experiences with the trial and errors, sweat and tears they've had along the way, and why this is exactly what they want to be doing. For starters, Will grew up in the barbecue business.
He cut his restaurateur teeth working at a long-standing barbecue joint in Old Town Spring. Over time, Will has developed his own recipes for all of his rubs, sauces, brines and marinades. And Nichole is right there beside him every day with her own signature salads, slaw and the most delectable cobblers that will ever grace your dessert spoon.
Because Corkscrew is still in it's infancy, there is only outdoor seating at modest collection of (brand new) picnic tables. Some umbrellas are on the way for when the sun beats down, but when the weather is as nice as it was the day we were there, then outdoor seating is what the people are seeking. And what the people want, the people will get at Corkscrew Barbecue.
Ever accommodating, Corkscrew was more than willing to serve us a sampler of everything on the menu for the purpose of our Woodlands Eats review. Hand packaged for immediate dining or take-home service, we struggled to choose where to begin as the sites and smells of everything we were served filled our senses as we opened container after container of the wonderful goodness that is Corkscrew. The side order containers are well sealed so there is not worry about anything spilling out before you get to your destination.
The Green Chile Creamy Pasta Salad has a nice zing to it; it's not your standard "macaroni salad;" usually heavy on the mayo and eggs - this nicely creamy, bow tie pasta salad will hit the spot without filling you up. Ditto to the Creamy Potato Salad, again, not too heavy on the mayo, and with crisp bits of pickle and onion. Finally, the Coleslaw was crisp and fresh, with carrots, purple and green cabbage and a dressing that is just right; not too sweet, and not overly vinegary. All of our sides had a fresh, crisp appearance, smell, and taste. Nichole tells us that not one ounce of food served at Corkscrew gets delivered from Sysco or Glazier (two well known restaurant food distributors). In fact, almost everything they serve, from the briskets to the jalapenos, is hand selected by Will or Nichole at HEB daily. For them, the best way to ensure their customers get the best end product is to ensure only the best ingredients can go into their dishes.
The Sliced Beef had a gorgeous smoke ring on it, no doubt due to Will's years of work perfecting the timing of the smoking and his use of Texas Oak to heat his custom-made barbecue pit. It was tender and juicy, with the full flavor of the brisket coming out in every bite. The Chopped Beef is served in a Texas style BBQ sauce which is a little sweeter than what we usually prefer; but not so sweet that it overpowered the flavor of the meat. The Pulled Pork was a bit different than any we have had in the past; being native Texans, we thought it was a little sweet and a little too Yankee for our taste, but it would seem that we're in the minority when it comes to that, since the Pulled Pork is actually one of their most popular dishes. The Turkey Breast was tender and juicy, delicious on its own or dipped in some of that signature barbecue sauce. The Smoked Sausage was smoked to perfection, served up tender and juicy (are you seeing a pattern here?), bursting with flavor and just the right amount of snap to the outer skin. And last but certainly not least, the Chicken was simply superb, topping anything we ever made here at home (don't worry, she said I could say that), and anything we'd ever had at a restaurant for that matter. Will says the exact process for keeping the chicken that moist and tender is a secret, but basically it involves a lot of time, effort, and ingredients; the chickens sit overnight in a handmade brine, then thoroughly rinsed and then massaged with a handmade rub both under and over the skin, before being brushed with olive oil. We didn't get to sample the ribs; In order to be able to offer the most variety during the week, the Chicken and Ribs will swapped out on a routine basis. The schedule will be announced so you can be sure to go but either way, you are sure to be satisfied.
Now, about those cobblers; you know how when people go to The Cheesecake Factory, no matter how much they ate (and with their enormous portions, they probably ate a lot) they have to get some cheesecake because after all, it's The Cheesecake Factory? Well, that's about the same feeling you're going to have once you've sampled one of Corkscrew's cobblers. If you can somehow manage to save yourself some room after having some of that delicious barbecue, you are in for a real treat with any of their fresh-baked cobblers. We sampled the Peach Cobbler and the Cinnamon Apple, and there's no deciding which one was best. Our resident baker was able to tell straight-away where that fabulous flavor was coming from, it's the butter. Not margarine, not butter spread, good old fashioned, grade-A, sweet-cream butter. There's simply no substitute. The crust on the cobblers was flaky and a little (but not too) sweet, and the juices in the fruits will warm you heart and soul.
Corkscrew BBQ, if it continues on it's present course, can't possibly go wrong. Their pride in their product shows in everything they serve, and everything they do. The mobile kitchen is as clean or cleaner than any brick and mortar restaurant, and biodegradable and recyclable items are used whenever possible for both catering and in the kitchen. As catering is in their roots, you can imagine the absolute back-log of orders they have for this coming holiday weekend. In fact, if you haven't given them a try yet, you just might want to consider ordering early as they frequently sell out for catering orders on major holidays.
If you're looking for what will surely be the best BBQ experience in the woodlands, head on over to Corkscrew BBQ in Old Town Spring.
Think we got it wrong? Or did we hit the nail on the head? Let us know in the comments below. And remember, you don't have to take our word for it - give them a try for yourself and decide!
Texas Monthly Magazine's "Top 50 BBQ Joints in Texas 2013" May 2013