Sunday, December 20, 2009

Tin Star Cafe Donut (& BBQ) Haus

Behind the counter of the Tin Star Cafe Donut Haus in historic downtown Evergreen, CO stands Andrew Schutt. Clad in a backwards Nuggets cap and a striped polo shirt, he leans over the counter in concentration, with Sunday's crossword puzzle spread out on in front of him while the Broncos' pregame show blares on the TV overhead. One large community table sits in the middle of this comfortably cramped and homey restaurant, and two other smaller tables are shoved in the corners. The haphazard decorations on the white wood-paneled walls include a stuffed deer head with a Santa's hat, and the only table decor consists of rolls of paper towels on top of black-and-white checked vinyl tablecloths. The overall vibe is welcoming, and I feel as if I'm going to like it here. Schutt has been up and running for five years now, in what has always been a traditional donut shop in this quiet mountain town. He still makes donuts, but he has added into that mix another passion of his: barbecue.

It goes without saying that barbecue and donuts on their own are two of life's most euphoric edibles, ranking somewhere in the vicinity of chicken skin, tacos al pastor and lechon. But barbecue and donuts together under one roof, although being hazardously close to sensory and saturated-fat overload, very well may be on the list of greatest duos ever. Like Batman and Robin. Or Ren and Stimpy.

Upstairs is more seating.

Speaking of television, it was a famous cartoon character who spoke the following words: "Donuts. Is there anything they can't do?" Well, following that logic (note: following this logic will, with high probability, prove dangerous to your health), donuts and barbecue together are as unstoppable a force as nature can handle. Broken down into another, easy-to-understand television metaphor, it's like the donuts are Superman and the barbecue is the Legion of Justice. (And your stomach the legion of doom). Thusly, the most unstoppable and best crime-fighting item on the Tin Star menu is the Glutton.

The Glutton is the inevitabale dish that gets created when you open a donut and barbecue shop. And you all know where this is going: barbecued pork piled on top of a gigantic apple fritter. I think there is a link thrown in there as well. Wow. I didn't go there this time around, but I did start my day with a beef brisket sandwich.

The beef brisket is smoked well, and the barbecue sauces have a nice sweet tang to them. The spicy version is not really very spicy, but it does have a nice smokiness to it from the added chipotles. My wife ordered the pulled pork, which like the brisket was delicious and tender; and we both got good and messy with our sandwiches, as instructed by Schutt via the directive on his menu ("get messy and enjoy"). Another highlight were the chips that come on the side. They are thick-sliced, entirely homemade and dangerously addictive. After I ate mine, I was completely stuffed yet still managed to eat the majority of my wife's chips too.

As I was in the midst of the messy process of eating, I fired off a question from time to time, and Schutt answered each one in a quiet and blunt, yet friendly manner. "Yes," he makes his own donuts. "Yes," he makes his own chips. "Yes," he smokes everything himself. "Yes," he will smoke any meat you want with enough notice.

"I just taught myself," he tells me in his straightforward delivery when I ask him where he learned to cook barbecue. He is from "around here," but his barbecue is a mix of his favorite styles from barbecue regions around the U.S. He proudly touts himself as Colorado barbecue.

I looked up from the large community table in the room and gazed out on the Sunday morning snow. A family strolled in and joined us at our table. The two teenage sons nabbed the last two giant apple fritters, sat down and quickly set to work devouring what looked like pure pleasure. So despite being completely full, I waddled up to the counter and ordered a few of the little ones. They were sweet and sticky, with chunks of fresh apples baked in. They are some of the better apple fritters I have had and reason enough to make the drive up to Evergreen.


Other items on the menu include pulled chicken as well as a vegetarian option with a mushroom or something. There are a few links options, but this is the one thing he doesn't prepare himself--although he does stay local and get them from someone in Denver. Also on the menu, but not available today, are tamales, filled with one of his house-smoked meats. There is also a wide assortment of traditional donuts that looked just as good as the fritter.

Despite the metaphors I alluded to earlier, to me donuts and barbecue together are more like a plateful of kryptonite. After chowing down on all that food before noon on a Sunday, I struggled out of my seat, and in a semi-dazed state, wandered the streets (actually the street) of Evergreen  with my wife . I toyed with the idea of taking home a couple pounds of brisket, as Schutt sells all of his meat by the pound, but it wasn't happening today. I will be back, however, to try the tamales, grub on some more barbecue and wash it all down with a few fritters. On the way out Schutt reminds me, "Call ahead if you need more than five pounds". Yes, five more pounds of barbecue is exactly what I need.


Tin Star Cafe Donut Haus on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

  1. best damn bbq I've had since being in Memphis or Texas worth the trip up the hill, and much better than having to go back to the previous mentioned placeS!!!!

    ReplyDelete

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