Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Branded '72 Pit Barbecue (7/10) - 387 East Gude Dr., Rockville, MD 20850

Branded '72, an established Rockville, Maryland barbecue joint, prides itself on serving traditional Texas barbecue -- an attribute that my readers should know I love.  During my last night in Washington DC, I decided that I owed myself a goodbye present in the form of a good barbecue experience, and I consequently made the 25 mile trek up to Maryland suburbs.  I was happy to see the Texas and US flags hanging proudly up front as I approached the front door.  The restaurant was separated into three sections: a dining area to the right, a bar to the left that housed an accompanying stage for live acts (which was in use this night), and a long buffet-style counter in the rear.    

When one asks me about what makes Texas style barbecue unique, I typically begin by discussing that the meat (brisket, sausage, and pork/beef ribs) is smoked in a closed pit with oak wood and is ultimately served dry to the restaurant's patrons.  Branded '72 follows that model very closely but strays a little off course by smoking with hickory rather than oak and serving pulled pork and smoked corned beef.

I walked to the rear and was very excited about the opportunity to try the corned beef.  I love salted cured meats to the same extent I love barbecue.  I was afraid by combining the two I might succumb to the same sexual arousal that George Costanza experienced when he mixed pastrami, sex and tv.  Upon request, the server behind the counter sliced a massive piece of corned beef and dropped into my outstretched palms for me to try -- delicious.  I ordered the three-meat plate -- corned beef, pulled pork, brisket with sides of collared greens and mac and cheese and loaded a few cups of Branded '72's sauces (roasted habenero, original texas, and rockville red).


I took a seat at a booth near the bar and dove into my food while listening  to the blues trio lay out some soulful tunes.  The first few bites of smoked corned beef were incredible.  The fat was beautifully rendered and the moisture in the meat was perfect.  Unfortunately, there's a limitation to how much corned beef I can consume in one sitting and I reached that threshold fairly early into the meal.  The pork and brisket were both very good (brisket was a little dry for my liking) and had a great smoked flavor throughout.  The mac and cheese was served luke-warm and the sauces were not pleasing to my pallet.  Had I known about this place sooner, i would have definitely made the effort to get out to this joint more often.

Branded 72 on Urbanspoon

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Ratings and Reviews

In order to provide a consistent grading standard across each restaurant/region, I order a barbecue pork sandwich (and other meats/sides if a restaurant/region specializes in another specialty). In addition to comparing the quality of food, I will also take into consideration other intangibles (ambiance, atmosphere, service, authenticity, etc.) in my ratings as I deem appropriate.

Basically, a 10/10 represents an incredible meal, while a 6/10 score indicates a decent dining experience but a substantial number of dishes fell short of great. Lower scores indicate unpleasant experiences which I would most likely not even recommend to my worst enemy (Jonas Singer).

I reserve the right to continuously edit/update previous posts and to change rating scores as I see fit.