It's as simple an affair as it gets: a tabletop in a stand at the Brooklyn Flea. There's no dedicated seating at the stand or in the immediate area, but picnic tables and benches closer to the water afford some of the best possible views of the Manhattan skyline.
Once again, as simple as it gets. Just one meat: brisket, staring at you from the cutting board within reaching distance, letting you stare right back. But for that one meat, you get three options: lean, fatty or mixed. Sandwiches are served on the by-now ubiquitous Martin's potato rolls. A self serve condiment station supplies sauce, onions, pickles and peppers to complete the package. Oh, there's just one side, too: potato salad.
Strolling through the Brooklyn Flea in Williamsburg with my young bride, I spotted Lonestar Empire around 11:00AM and was sharing a mini sandwich by 11:10AM.
Brisket Sandwich: Although I'm starting to think it's overdone, the Martin's potato
roll—pillowy soft, faintly sweet, reliably if suspiciously fresh—is
an even better vehicle for brisket than it is in its usual role housing
ground beef. Both texturally and flavorwise, it lets the brisket really
stand out. That brisket came in the form of four slices, each around the
size of a business card and about 3/8" thick. The outer crust was well formed but only hinting at crispy, yielding to more tender inner meat whose marbling was as easy to feel as taste. Closer to moist than juicy, the brisket presented a nice bite with natural beefiness hitting strongest, then lighter smoke and a faint rub (seemingly more diverse than the salt-pepper-cayenne blend normally associated with Texas 'cue) furthest in the background. I went with the fatty option, but the fat was mostly melted in rather than in blobs, so no trimming was necessary.
I'd like a little more crispness, a little more juiciness, a little more flavor and a little more meat for my $9 sandwich, but overall, a good brisket offeringh that would put at least half of the full service restaurant briskets to shame.
A thin vinegar and peppery treatment proved distinctive and effective.
In retrospect, I should have tried the potato salad, but at the time I didn't want to bother with an extra item and a fork while remaining on the go.
The Bottom Line
A little expensive for what you get and not as juicy as it could be, but a tender and tasty brisket sandwich makes Lonestar Empire a worthy newcomer that I hope to try again—and next time I'll get the potato salad too.
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