Loyal Q and Brew lines the sidewalk in front of the restaurant with big reserves of oak wood, and it’s not just for show. CONTRIBUTED BY WYATT WILLIAMS
As for the barbecue, I’m pleased to report that the stacks of split oak that line the sidewalk in front of Loyal Q are not mere decoration. By the taste and bewitching scent that accompanies the meats at Loyal Q, they are using no small amount of wood in the smokers here and are delivering rather impressive results.
The prime brisket at Loyal Q is fatty, smoky and tender. CONTRIBUTED BY WYATT WILLIAMS
To begin with, that brisket is every bit as juicy and fatty as the intense marbling of prime brisket promises to be and consistently tender in my experience. The bouquet of oak smoke is strong, as is the peppery rub, though neither is quite strong enough to balance out the enormous fatty richness of the deckle side. (What you’ll want is one of the house-made pickles, which come generously piled on the platter, to help balance the richness.) You also can opt for a cut of brisket from the lean side.
Not all the other meats are quite as impressive. The smoked turkey breast, here as with other joints that have picked up this Austin-style quirk, seems to be more of a gesture to the health conscious or non-beef eaters of the world than anything else.
The St. Louis cut ribs are glazed with a touch of sweetness that shows admirable restraint (there’s no dripping sauce here) and allows the flavors of the peppery rub and that oaky smoke to stay dominant. The pulled pork benefits, too, from that strong smoky flavor, but suffers from the lack of a good vinegar sauce on the table. All of the house-made sauces here (spicy, mustard, espresso, house) have the sticky, thick qualities that remind one of ketchup or sugar.
Among the unusual options at Loyal Q is a Southwest grain bowl with tri-color quinoa. What you really want to do is add a topping of hot smoked Scottish salmon for $7. CONTRIBUTED BY WYATT WILLIAMS
Though these meats are the backbone of Loyal Q’s menu, the food offerings are much like that bourbon list. There’s something for everyone, including a number of salads and grain bowls. I laughed when I first saw these on the menu. A grain bowl just doesn’t seem to fit in a barbecue restaurant.
I tried it anyway, ordering the Southwest grain bowl with tri-colored quinoa, grilled corn, avocado, spinach and black beans. I couldn’t figure out one reason in the world for this place to serve a kind of middling, too cold, unsatisfying salad except as a kind of apology to non-meat eaters.
On the other hand, I discovered atop that forgettable quinoa bowl a much more memorable item: an added topping of hot smoked Scottish salmon for $7. Of all the things I ordered at Loyal Q, this salmon surprised me the most. The exterior reminded me a little of the pork ribs: a lightly sweet glaze finished with a strong punch of smoke. Inside, the flesh was mild and moist, just fatty and satisfying enough.
Perhaps it is not fashionable — I don’t believe the smokehouses in Austin are putting sides of salmon in their smokers these days — but it is the sort of surprise that barbecue could use a little more of these days. I’m surprised to say this, but the next time I go back to Loyal Q, I’ll be looking forward to the salmon.
LOYAL Q AND BREW
11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sundays-Wednesdays; 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Thursdays; 11 a.m.-midnight Fridays-Saturdays. 4880 Lower Roswell Road, Marietta. 678-921-0456, loyalq.com.
Recommended dishes: Brisket, St. Louis cut ribs, pulled pork, smoked salmon.