Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Triple J Chophouse & Brew Co ~ Lubbock, Texas
Strange, then, that I've rarely gone back to Lubbock since graduating. I'll admit to a certain amount of Mac Davis (something about happiness and rear view mirrors...) when I originally left the dusty West Texas plains and headed back to my DFW homeland. My last visit to the campus was 1997, when I took my then new bride - known affectionately to you all as Mrs. RJG, for a walk around the Tech grounds. Much has changed in the 15+ years since I was last in Lubbock. All for the good. They've maintained the Spanish architecture, while upgrading and adding new buildings throughout. And many of the four lane roads, with their dozens of street lights, have now been plowed over with wide open and super fast freeways.
The other major improvement is the culinary selection. Of course when I was a student, I was your typical dirt poor coupon cutting fast food eater - and that was for special occasions. Otherwise it was dorm food (first 2 years) or grocery store fixins' (last 2.5 years). But even when my Dad was in town for business, our choices were somewhat limited. The legendary 50 Yard Line Steakhouse was a regular for us (and it's still a go-to destination), as well as Jeremiah's (now gone). Now there are many choices, and across a wide variety of ethnic food types.
The other major change is the loosening of the zoning laws for purchasing liquor. When the RJG was in school, the legal drinking age was 18, and if you wanted to buy the typical crap beer (Coors, Lone Star, Pearl...) - one had to go to this awful portion of SE Lubbock known as "The Strip", which is now almost completely abandoned. So today there are liquor stores throughout Lubbock (this apparently is a very recent law change). And they're slowly joining the craft beer movement as well. A new brewery called Yellow House Canyon has started up, and in nearby Wolfforth, Wicked Beaver has brought a few beers to market. Some of which you can buy here in DFW at some of the better stocked stores.
On this visit to Lubbock, we decided to eat at two places from my college days (one lunch and one dinner), and one new place for dinner. Using Urbanspoon as my guide, along with my desire to try as many beers as possible, the obvious choice for a new place was Triple J Chophouse. In what is now called the "Depot District", on the east side near downtown, basically an area of town that was an industrial back alley when I was in school.
Since it was Saturday night, the place was already handing out the flashing cable remote controls, when we arrived not long after 6. So we took a seat at the bar while waiting for a table. While sitting at the bar, I took a picture of one of their growlers (the photo above). For the entire evening, I tried three of their beers: Raider Red Amber, Hop-to-It IPA, and the Intruder Stout. Mrs. RJG took a shine to the Raider Red and had a couple of those. All of the beers were very good. Not superb, but better than average I thought (Ratebeer disagrees with my assessment, but that site is an RJG rant for another day).
Our table was ready after the first beer, and we got down to the serious business of eating. I will just say this before starting: I loved mine, and Mrs. RJG hated hers. Since it's my blog and my Urbanspoon account, I'm giving this a favorable writeup and a thumbs up. But we should not discount my wife's opinions here, so please consider the whole. I went with the Miss Kitty Kat (ribeye), cooked medium. It was medium rare, but I enjoy it that way as well. It was very tender, and the flavor was excellent. I also went with a side of "smashed" potatoes, which were very creamy, though I couldn't possibly eat them all. Mrs. RJG, who isn't really a steak fanatic, went instead for the Green Chile Chicken. You know we both enjoy New Mexican food, and green chile is a favorite of ours. I also had a side of the green with my steak. We both thought the chile was pretty good. The chiles were nice and slightly spicy, but I think they could done more with it then just puree it. Mrs. RJG said the chicken was "chickeny" and the cheese was awful. It just wasn't her dish I'm afraid. Her side was steamed vegetables, which came out cold and stale. Unfortunately Mrs. RJG had all the bad luck this night. Meanwhile, official husband RJG is enjoying himself immensely. Those who are married already know this isn't a good situation for me to be in. Sigh. The meal opened promisingly enough (for both of us) with a nice cold crisp house salad, with a lemon vinaigrette. Honestly that sounded way too sweet, but was quite delicious actually - and not sweet at all. I enjoyed the soft rolls that came with the meal. Mrs. RJG said it was "mushy bread". Tough night for the Mrs. I'm afraid.
The setting is down home Lubbock: Texas Tech memorabilia, hunting/fishing displays, a live country singer, and dark wood paneled walls. It's not a fancy place - just a good old fashioned West Texas steakhouse - with a brewpub attached. The latter would have been unfathomable in the 1980s.