Surf and Turf | Wine | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

Surf and Turf 

From Market Street’s oysters to Kaiser’s superb barbecue'with a little Trails in between.

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Any evening of dining that begins with a platter of fresh oysters on the half shell has the potential for greatness. And, for that matter, great evenings of dining sometimes happen where and when you least expect them. Not every marvelous meal takes place in one of the glitzy Taj Mahals of culinary opulence; some are launched from a slightly scary former butcher shop on 300 West. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

nn

The idea was to check out a new barbecue joint that had been recommended to me by Scott Schlisman, one of the owners of MacCool’s. Having more than once eaten and lusted after MacCool’s outrageously good lamb-rib appetizer, I was inclined to trust Schlisman’s notions of good barbecue. More important, his family has been serving up great barbecued ribs in popular Philly area restaurants like Sam’s Grill and Devil’s Alley for years. So when Schlisman told me about Kaiser’s Barbecue, I paid attention.

nn

But since man cannot live on meat alone, it seemed prudent to pop into The Market Street Oyster Bar for a plate of freshly shucked bivalves before moving onto the beefier part of dinner at Kaiser’s. On this particular Friday evening, there were only four different types of oysters listed on the board at The Oyster Bar; usually the selection is larger. So we tried a mixed dozen ($18.99) of the Blue Point, Imperial, Totten and Stella Bay oysters, along with sips of Louis Latour Pouilly-Fuisse'an especially oyster-friendly wine with hints of limestone, melons and almonds. Still feeling a tad peckish after the first dozen oysters'and with plenty of piquant mignonette sauce still left'I splurged on another half-dozen plump Chesapeake Bay Blue Points, just to fend off hunger during the journey over to Kaiser’s. Finished with surf, we sped off for turf.

nn

Noticing that Kaiser’s Barbecue and General Store was located almost across the street from Trails on John Stockton Drive'that’s 300 West to you and me'I convinced my companion that a game of pool and perhaps a nosh of nachos at Trails would be wise before burying ourselves in barbecue. But since our server forgot the order of nachos, and we had to be at Kaiser’s before they closed at 7 p.m., I was left sipping a $4.75 jumbo mug of Uinta Cutthroat Ale and thinking that maybe the ladies at Trails should head across the street to Kaiser’s to put a little meat on their bones'or at least take advantage of the marinated New York strip served at Trails on Fridays with a baked spud for $5.

nn

Upon entering the empty Kaiser’s Barbecue and General Store, my pretty partner asked the guy behind the counter, “Are you still open?â€nn

“Yawp …” was the reply.

nn

“When do you close?” was her follow-up question.

nn

“When you leave,” came the answer.

nn

“We heard from a good source that you have great barbecue,” I said, trying to break the ice.

nn

“Yawp.”

nn

“So, are you Kaiser?” I continued.

nn

“That’s what they call me,” was the droll answer, which, after a volley of one-word responses made me feel like we were becoming quick chums. “Want something?â€nn

The other guy cutting up meat with an electric saw glanced over, said nothing, and went about his business. I’d heard he was from Texas. These Texans are pretty tight-lipped, I thought, wishing the same could be said for the famous faux-Texan from Crawford.

nn

Well, it turns out that Kaiser is just a nickname. The economically inclined wordsmith behind the Kaiser counter was Matt, who is a next-door neighbor of Kaiser’s owner Craig Chamberlain, both of whom lived across the street from the space that would become Kaiser’s. It’s a former butcher shop and still features a heavy steel track hanging from the ceiling where beef and pork carcasses would be hung, weighed, slung into the meat cooler and ultimately butchered. You’ll see the track if you look into the side room at Kaiser’s, which now sports all sort of metal sculptures for sale (that’s the General Store), from cocky tin roosters to cowboys with six-shooters. Chamberlain'who turns out to be a very nice guy, as is Matt'recruited his buddy to help turn the old butcher shop into a takeout barbecue facility and rebuild the house out back. Once that was finished, Matt stayed on to help run the place.

nn

Kaiser’s still operates like a butcher shop, insofar as the Texas-style barbecue there is sold mostly by the pound'as little or as much as you like. There are also a handful of “plates” from $4.95 to $6.95: rib or brisket, sausage and chopped beef, which include two sides chosen from potato salad, coleslaw or pinto beans. Everything, however, is “to go.” There is no dining space at Kaiser’s, although if they set up a few tables and chairs I think the place would be packed for lunch and dinner with folks who know ’cue. It’s that good.

nn

As indicated, the menu is limited and the side dishes are mostly an afterthought. But the barbecue'especially the pork ribs ($9.10 per pound)'is out of this world. I’ve been sworn to secrecy regarding the wood Chamberlain uses to smoke his ribs and brisket; I’ll only say that it’s not hickory or mesquite. But Kaiser’s are the best Texas ribs I’ve tasted anywhere, including Texas. The small smoked sausage ring ($3.95 each) is equally delicious, and the tender slices of lean beef brisket ($9.10 per pound) are terrific too.

nn

So is Kaiser’s a wonderful addition to the Utah barbecue scene? Yawp!

nn

KAISER’S BARBECUE AND GENERAL STORE
n962 S. 300 West
n355-0499
nMonday-Saturday
n7 a.m.-7 p.m.

nn

MARKET STREET OYSTER BAR
n54 W. Market Street
n531-6044

nn

TRAILS
n921 S. 300 West
n363-2871

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