Sharon's Barbeque (Abilene, TX)
Today my job brought me to Clyde, Texas, which for those of you who are unaware (I'm guessing that's just about everyone), Clyde lies just outside of Abilene. I thought I'd make the most of my travels, so I headed into Abilene to sample the local 'que. It was a tough decision, but I settled on Sharon's Barbeque for lunch.
As soon as you step through the door to Sharon's, you're greeted by a great smoky aroma and a display case showing off their different meat options.
Surprisingly, Sharon's offers wifi and a drive-thru window. I didn't need either today, but I was at least intrigued. The interior is set up with cozy frontier-style decor plastered across the walls: chairs, old photographs, and other assorted wooden nick-nacks. The frontier motif seems to fit well with their boot-and-hat clientele.
As pleasant as the dining room was, the restrooms were pretty gross. I'm assuming they mop the floors once in a while. However, the walls, trashcan, soap dispenser, and fake decorative plants looked like they had never been cleaned or even dusted.
The menu I saw online advertised both jalapeno sausage and German sausage, but when I arrived I noticed that there was no sign or mention of the jalapeno variety. Disappointed, I ordered a Mini Combo plate with German sausage and brisket. Here, you're free to help yourself to the buffet-style side dishes. I selected potato salad, red beans, and jalapeno cornbread.
The potato salad was exceptionally creamy, almost whipped. It could have used more crunch for a texture change, but on the plus side it was full of flavor. There was an interesting degree of sweetness to it too. As for the beans, they certainly didn't look like much sitting on my plate. There were no visible spices, and there wasn't much in terms of taste either. A little salt and black pepper (and maybe a little bacon) would have done wonders here.
At Sharon's, the cornbread comes wrapped in aluminum foil, and sits in a warming drawer for hours on end. I could taste the jalapenos themselves, but I didn't get any heat from them at all. The cornbread was decently moist and spongy, but kind of a letdown overall.
By this point, I wasn't feeling exceptionally optimistic about my meat combo. I crossed my fingers and started with the sausage. Surprisingly, there was a great snap to the casings, and I could definitely taste the pepper and other spices. I tried the sausage with both the regular and vinegar barbecue sauces they had available. I liked the taste of the vinegar sauce, but it was so runny that not much stayed put on my slice of sausage. The regular barbecue sauce was good too, but basically tasted like a slightly thicker version of the vinegar sauce, with maybe just a touch more sugar to it.
I wouldn't really describe the brisket as sliced or chopped, but rather just large chunks. The brisket wasn't inedible, although it was fairly lean and dry. There wasn't much crust on it either, which was equally disappointing. Sauce was definitely needed with this offering, which certainly helped things, but a mediocre barbecue sauce can't make up for dry meat.
When I was planning out my trip to Abilene, I had a hard time choosing between Sharon's Barbeque and Joe Allen's Pit Bar-B-Que, which both had top ratings for the area. At the last minute, I changed my mind and opted for Sharon's, mostly because of the promise of jalapeno sausage. Some after-the-fact internet researching indicated that Sharon is Joe Allen's ex-wife. Apparently she didn't get the barbecue recipe in the divorce.