Remember how I said I really really like brisket? Yeah, that wasn’t an exaggeration: I LOVE the stuff. Any time I hit up a barbecue restaurant, I always sample their brisket sandwich. So when I heard that the Percy Street Barbecue was serving legendarily good stuff over on Philadelphia’s already legendary South Street, I had to give it a try.
Percy’s offers a different take on traditional barbecue: sure, they give it their homemade Texas dry rub before cooking, but afterwards, they trust the rub and the natural flavors of the meat so much that they serve you the ‘wich without BBQ sauce. It’s a crazy idea, I know, but trust me when I tell you that you wouldn’t want any sauce getting in the way of these even crazier flavors. (For the record, I did sample their sauces, all available on the tables with your meal, and the Carolina Mustard is spectacular!)
But, sticking to their inventive barbecuing ways, Percy’s also gave the brisket a different look: instead of the classic slices of brisket (as seen in the Murray Avenue Grille beef brisket sandwich), they decided to turn the brisket into a pulled pork-like consistency; hence the name, “Chopped Brisket Sandwich.” And while I’m normally a traditionalist barbecue fan, sweet mother of God was this stuff unbelievable. They don’t crowd the bun with anything besides the meat and a couple of raw onions (you know, for fun), so I’ll be able to give the meat its appropriate attention.
I’ve never tasted brisket like this. Whatever they put in their rub is perfect; there’s a lingering smoke the entire time you eat it, but not so overpowering to get in the way of the rest of the flavors. The rest of the tastes really combine with the smoke to create a whirlwind of flavor: there’s a small hint of sweetness (a shout-out to Kansas City BBQ), and a definite spice kick that builds overtime (nothing too powerful, but certainly something more than just a Texas dry-rub.) It’s not extremely complex, but there’s something jarring about the lack of sauce that ends up providing you with an enlightening barbecue experience: smothering meat in the sweet stuff, as delicious as it may be, isn’t necessary to create out-of-the-park barbecue. There’s a kind of homemade, family recipe feel to the sandwich. It’s like this stuff belongs here, to these people, and they’re the only ones who can do it this well.
And really, the Percy Street Barbecue is a very authentic-feeling restaurant. I felt that way the whole time: from the menu written on a chalkboard in the back of the place to the mason jars that your drinks are served in, right down to the spectacular food, Percy Street gives you a good feeling, as long as you’re enjoying it as much as they are. And believe me, you will.