Wis-Tex BBQ (Stoughton WI)
Man, I'm having some wicked writer's block trying to get this thread's literary engine started so I guess I'll go with the basics...
A couple of months ago the sign outside the former Bella Roma restaurant on Stoughton's west side changed to "Wis-Tex BBQ" (the hyphen is debatable) and was festooned with a "Coming Soon!" banner so I'd been keeping an eye on things, and when I read in last week's local paper that the doors had been flung open to welcome the public I made a mental note to stop by in the near future. The near future was today.
It's a fairly large building and when I dined there in the past (both as Bella Roma and the back-in-downtown Marsala's Pizza) only about 50% was utilized so I hope the proprietor is getting a break on the lease, because without a big crowd there's a lot of empty/wasted space. I happened to be passing by today a little after 1pm and even though I'd been thinking about stopping there for dinner tonight I figured that there was no time like the present, so I parked, entered, and asked to be seated at the bar.
The 4 "signature" meats are chopped brisket, chopped pork shoulder, ham, and turkey breast; I chose the 3-meat basket with brisket, pork, and turkey with red potato salad (brought home for Mrs. SC) and pinto beans as the sides. Ribs are also on the menu and according to the newspaper article the owner considers ribs and brisket to be his 2 best meats, but they're listed only as a $4.00 option for the combo baskets.
My lunch arrived quickly but not knowing how the operation works and since I had inferred from overheard employee conversations that the owner might be on the premises it was tough to decide if the meats had been chopped (brisket, pork) and sliced (turkey) to order or merely plated from holding bins; I'll give the benefit of the doubt and opt for the former.
I ate a forkful of brisket. And then a forkful of pork. And then a slice of turkey. And holy freakin' crap, I could taste the smoke in each and every one. So then I moved on to the pinto beans, which looked suspiciously like baked beans. "This won't be good", I thought. And I thought wrong, because there wasn't the slightest hint of sugar or molasses. OK, so I needed to add salt to please my palate but the lack of sweetness alone immediately moved them onto my A list. On the down side, the Texas toast did need to be toasted a little more.
According to the newspaper story the owner is a Texan with barbecue experience in his home state but circumstances dictated he move to Wisconsin a decade or so ago, and he's been hoping to open his own place for a number of years. Now I can't claim to be an expert on Texas barbecue outside of what I've read but I think he has a good idea with his basic menu, with a few Wisco-centric tweaks (chopped brisket instead of sliced, Friday fish fry) thrown in. I hope he doesn't try to do too many things to please too many people, though, because that's almost always a recipe for failure.