Venue Review: Oscar’s On Tejon Street
White collars welcome at downtown Slayton’s
If there can be such a thing as whitecollar barbecue, the new Slayton’s Tejon Street Barbecue is the place.
Instead of big rolls of paper towels on the table for mopping up sauce splatters, Slayton’s has cloth serviettes.
Instead of pictures of customers’ dogs, or no pictures at all on the wall (the decorating schemes of two other local barbecue joints), Slayton’s has a row of elegant mirrors over ornate, dark wood paneling and tastefully understated sconces. I’d wager it has been a long time since barbecue and sconces appeared in the same review.
The tables are packed with starched shirts doing business over ribs.
A large portrait of jazz trumpeter Miles Davis hangs at one end of the new restaurant, his eyebrow raised as if to wonder what to make of the whole scene. But rest assured, Mr. Davis, a big smoker packed with hickory chugs out back, where ribs and brisket sizzle slow and low. Plates of charred-black ends with cornbread and ribs slathered in red sauce go by in the narrow alley of a dining room. There is Shiner Bock on tap. This white collar has some bona fide barbecue sauce on it.
Slayton’s is the invention and extension of Randy Price, who opened the original Slayton’s (a paper-napkin place) in 2005 in Rockrimmon, and also owns Salsa Brava (two locations) and Sonterra Grill.
From sauce to style, Slayton’s is based heavily on the Kansas City native’s favorite hometown barbecue place, Jack Stack.
It works. As Pablo Picasso once said, (possibly lifting a line from Marcel Duchamp) “Good artists borrow. Great artists steal.”
Some of the food at Slayton’s approaches the level of art. The pulled pork sandwich ($9) is neither too soggy nor too dry, and the smoky, moist bits that range in color and flavor reward every bite. Ask for spicy or mild Kansas Citystyle sauce on the side, and douse to your heart’s content.
The chicken-fried steak ($11) is unequivocally the best in town, with a truly crispy crust over top sirloin with fresh, peppery white gravy. Look out, Mason Jar.
The burnt-end combo ($10), with a hard-to-distinguish jumble of luscious, slightly caramelized beef and pork, is a barbecue lover’s delight — all meat and mess with two sides. We recommend the onion rings, and mac and cheese.
The desserts are divine. Do whatever you have to in order to save room for the hot, fresh berry cobbler with cold, rich vanilla ice cream. Then figure out how you can also choke down the bread pudding drizzled with a rich, lemon-tinged cream.
When a waitress tried to entice us with the bread pudding, a friend muttered under her breath, “No one’s is as good as my bread pudding.” When the Slayton’s version arrived, she stopped muttering.
Other dishes are just OK. The ribs ($12-16) fell apart with succulent gasps of steam, but when we tried them, they did not have that delicious, slightly crackly outer veneer good ribs can attain after hours in the smoker.
The sliced brisket sandwich ($9 for three slices) was stingy, and the beef didn’t have as much luscious smokiness as the pulled pork.
The beans are too close in flavor to the barbecue sauce, and the coleslaw did not have much fiavor at all.
The roasted chicken, flecked with thyme, was mushy on the outside and mealy on the inside.
These quibbles are easily sidestepped by great service in a cool space, and extras most paper-napkin barbecue dens don’t have, such as a good wine-by-theglass list, smoked salmon and four nice salads to placate the less-carnivorous diner.
It’s well worth parking your white collar at one of Slayton’s tables. And it’s perfectly OK to tuck in one of the cloth serviettes like a bib.