Peace -N- Hominy Q Shack – Belmont, NC

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Name
: Peace -N- Hominy Q Shack
Date: 3/25/15
Address: 403 E Catawba St Ste 200, Belmont, NC 28012
Order: “Pul’d” pork sandwich with BBQ slaw, hush puppies, and Sun Drop (link to menu)
Price: $9.50

Monk: Belmont is a small town situated just off of I-85 between Charlotte and Gastonia that is mostly known for being the home of Belmont Abbey College, a small Catholic college. I haven’t really spent much time that way but last year a promising looking barbecue spot called Peace -N- Hominy Q Shack opened up. Being that Belmont is actually a little bit closer to where we currently live than barbecue restaurants in Fort Mill, Concord, or Kannapolis (since I’ve exhausted most Charlotte options), I decided to check it out.

I quite like the space that Peace -N- Hominy occupies at the rear of an older building that also houses Belmont’s Drug Store. It’s a smaller space and there aren’t but a handful of tables available in the main dining area (which were all full that day during lunch), so I headed back to the barstool seating against a wall just off the open kitchen.

Peace -N- Hominy state on the menu that they smoke their pork for 13 hours with apple-wood and hickory but from what I could tell, they do their smoking with a gasser. Which you could taste in the dry and coarsely pulled pork I had on my sandwich. The chunks that did have some bark were a notch above the other pieces but on the whole it was crying out for one of their table sauces (available in hot, vinegar, and mustard).

Speedy: Which sauce did you try? Did it help?

Monk: I tried the vinegar sauce, which helped a bit in terms of dryness. Another thing that helped was the barbecue slaw on the sandwich itself. One suggestion, though – they should put the slaw on top of the pork (as most places do) so that by the time I receive the sandwich the bottom half of the bun isn’t soaked through due to the weight of the meat sitting on top of the slaw. This resulted in me having a somewhat hard time eating the sandwich without it falling apart.

The hush puppies come lightly dusted with what I believe is cinnamon sugar and is almost more dessert than savory side. Nonetheless, they are quite good despite being somewhat inconsistent – some were a little more underdone than others.

And a note about the paper straws they utilized. Props to Peace -N- Hominy for refusing to use styrofoam products – I wish more restaurants would do this – but a paper straw is where I draw the line. Its just not natural to sip through a straw that is slowly disintegrating and breaking down with every sip. I try not to hyperbolize too much (I usually leave that to Speedy), but a paper straw truly is the devil’s instrument.

Speedy: I have no idea what you’re talking about…

Monk: Sure you don’t, Speedy… 

In addition to having a pretty good name, Peace -N- Hominy Q Shack is a decent little barbecue joint. They are unfortunately at a bit of a disadvantage by not using a wood burning smoker from the get-go but are worth checking out in Belmont.

Ratings:
Atmosphere/Ambiance – 3 hogs
Pork – 3 hogs
Sides – 3.5 hogs
Overall – 3 hogs
Peace -n- Hominy Q Shack on Urbanspoon

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Friday Find: GE’s 12 foot smoker

From a few weeks back at SXSW…

For this year’s SXSW Interactive, General Electric introduced the Texas-inspired BBQ Research Lab. The lab features a 12-foot BBQ smoker which houses multiple sensors that record temperature, humidity, smoke velocity, and meat temperature in real time. The Digital Lab went behind the scenes to see how big data makes for delicious food.

For more information, check out this article on TMBBQ.

-Monk

Linkdown: 3/25/15

- The “Elite Ate” of Garden and Gun’s Barbecue Bracket has been posted; in the Mid Atlantic region Skylight Inn has been eliminated by Red Bridges Barbecue Lodge and faces Lexington Barbecue. The rest of the bracket is located here and voting ends Thursday at 10pm

– Speaking of brackets and barbecue, Red Clay Soul’s Georgia BBQ Bracket Challenge is also down to its “Great Eight”

– Last week, Robert Moss took a deeper look at barbecue spaghetti in Memphis

– Marie, Let’s Eat! stops at Hodges Bar-B-Que in Decatur, GA and Blue Sky Barbecue in Woodstock, GA in two of his latest chapters

– The pitmasters for the 2015 Big Apple Barbecue Block Party have been announced, and Ed Mitchell is not attending this year

– Another reminder that the NCBBQA cooking and judging school is this Saturday, March 28

– Aaron Franklin is a James Beard finalist for Best Chef: South

– If, like me, you are less than familiar with Alabama and Georgia barbecue, here’s a primer

When it comes to regional barbecue, some people claim that neither Georgia nor Alabama has a distinctive style. We say, think again.

Sure, you can find everything from Texas brisket to Memphis ribs in Atlanta, but on the two-lane highways, a definite Georgia style emerges. Pork shoulders or hams are cooked over hickory and dressed in a thin tomato-and-vinegar sauce. They’re served with Brunswick stew, a hearty combination of chicken, beef, or pork (or all three) simmered with tomatoes and corn. Some of these elements carry over into Alabama—chopped pork dressed in tomato-and-vinegar sauce, plus a somewhat thinner Brunswick stew. But there’s too much variation to identify a single Alabama style. Sauces range from ruddy, tomato-based mixtures to thick mustard-spiked concoctions. Most distinctive is Alabama’s mayonnaise-based white sauce. Some are traditional, others more modern, but one element unites: They’re all delicious.

Troutman’s Bar-B-Que – Concord, NC

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Name
: Troutman’s Bar-B-Que
Date: 3/7/15
Address362 Church Street North, Concord, NC 28025
Order: Chopped barbecue plate with slaw, fries, hush puppies, and Cherry Lemon Sun Drop (!!) (link to menu)
Price: $9

Barbecue smoked over wood or wood coals is usually a pretty reliable indicator of good barbecue, but it isn’t 100%. Troutman’s Bar-B-Que has been open since the early 70s at its downtown Concord location off Church Street. And they are still cooking over wood coals in the smokehouse located at the back of the parking lot. However, Troutman’s is a case where cooking barbecue the old way unfortunately doesn’t produce a great product.

When it comes to barbecue plates, you get a choice of chopped or sliced and naturally I went with chopped (some day I will try sliced barbecue, but that day was not that day). For a place that smokes over wood, you sure couldn’t taste any of it in the barbecue. There was not a lot of bark either, which almost seemed as if it was taken away by design. And to top it all off, it was also extremely dry. Very disappointing.

The chopped plate comes with fries, slaw (your choice of red or white), and hush puppies. Only the hush puppies are really worth talking about and they were actually damn good. The Monkette would definitely agree, as her lunch that day mostly consisted of them. Thankfully, my father-in-law ordered an additional basket so we each were still able to get our fill.

The other saving grace of the meal besides the hush puppies was the Cherry Lemon Sun Drop. You see Cheerwine and you see regular Sun Drop at barbecue joints in the Piedmont but you don’t see a lot of Cherry Lemon Sun Drop. Man, that stuff is just about perfect to have with barbecue.

The search for good barbecue in Concord continues…

-Monk

Ratings:
Atmosphere/Ambiance – 3 hogs
Pork – 2 hogs
Sides – 3.5 hogs
Overall – 2 hogs
Troutman's Hickory Smoked BBQ on Urbanspoon

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Linkdown: 3/18/15

- Now this is cool: workers uncover three barbecue pits behind a wall in the Lexington, NC City Hall building; they are believed to be from Beck’s Barbecue, the first barbecue restaurant in Lexington (h/t @mossr)

– The state of Alabama’s Year of Alabama BBQ campaign now has a website (h/t TMBBQ)

– They’ve also got a smart phone app and book on Alabama BBQ

– Barbecue season has started in South Carolina’s midlands; and they have info on some upcoming classes and events in the region

– Dinosaur Bar-B-Que will open its 9th national location in Chicago this spring

10. Dinosaur Bar-B-Que
April will see the arrival of the ninth national location for this well-respected New York-based barbecue chain. Founder/pit master John Stage says Chicago was a natural choice as the existing restaurants have hosted the city’s blues musicians for the past few decades. While the management isn’t ready to divulge full menu details, we’re reassured there will be some new items specific to the Chicago location. We just hope they keep that tender pulled pork sandwich in the lineup. 923 W. Weed St., dinosaurbarbque.com/bbq-chicago

– Here’s a short barbecue guide to SXSW barbecue

– Check out Burger Mary’s guide from last year which should still be very applicable is constantly updated and kept current

– Speaking of SXSW, GE brought a 12 foot “interactive smoker” to the interactive portion of the festival

– In Barbecue Bros news, Speedy may have had it with trying brisket in our fair state:

– The Garden & Gun Ultimate BBQ Bracket 2015 kicked off this morning; check their website for more information

The Original Q Shack – Durham, NC

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Name: The Original Q Shack
Date: 3/4/15
Address: 2510 University Drive, Durham, NC
Order: 3 meat combo (pork, brisket, ribs), collards, fried okra (link to menu)
Price: $16

Speedy: Oftentimes, when my co-workers hear about the blog or my love of great ‘cue, they make suggestions of places I “have” to try. Some have been great, but in general, I’m skeptical until I know someone has legit barbecue taste.

Monk: Quick question just because I’m curious – how many have you found to have legit barbecue taste?

Speedy: There are a couple – generally people who grew up in a ‘cue mecca. It only takes a short conversation to figure out who to trust.

Since I starting working relatively frequently in the research triangle area (over a year ago), I’ve been hearing that I need to check out The Original Q Shack. After checking out the similarly named (and themed) Q Shack in Raleigh, I was avoiding at all costs; however, I’ve heard that there may not be much (or any) connection, so a trip to Cameron Indoor to attend the execution of my beloved Demon Deacons basketball season seemed like a good excuse to check it out.

Monk: From what I can tell, The Original Q Shack is not officially affiliated with the North Hills Q Shack you visited or The Q Shack in south Charlotte, which is part of the same chain as North Hills. I’m guessing that also makes it a 0% chance you and I ever visit the south Charlotte location.

Speedy: Thanks for doing the research, Monk. He’s not the best in the business for nothing, folks.

The Original Q Shack looks like an old-timey joint with outdoor (covered) seating and a small space indoors. The night I was there, there was a bluegrass quartet playing, which really added to the atmosphere. Similar to the Raleigh abomination, you order cafeteria style, and the meat is cut in front of you. To maximize coverage, I, of course, went with the three meat sampler.

At $16, this combo plate is not too overpriced, considering the portions. I think it could easily serve as a meal for two people. I was a little disappointed that it came with white bread instead of hush puppies or cornbread, but what can ya do?

The pork was decent. It was plenty tender and had decent flavor, though it could’ve used a little more smoke. It didn’t seem like the pork was sauced at all – I think chopping it and adding a little dip would do wonders. I also didn’t get any bark mixed in with mine – not sure if that was by design or if I got unlucky, but it was disappointing. I wouldn’t call this the best pork I’ve had, and certainly there are better options not too far away, but I wasn’t upset with it.

The ribs were actually quite good. The Original Q Shack serves spare ribs, pre-cut and lightly glazed. They were cooked almost perfectly – tender but not falling off the bone, with a good combination of sauce and a dry rub taste. This is the meat I would recommend and would have if I ever find myself back.

The brisket, unfortunately, was just plain bad. I got a mix of fatty and lean and the piece I had was way, way overcooked. My slices had minimal bark, were dry, and any flavor had long since left the meat. Overall, it was very, very disappointing. Hopefully this was just a case of one bad brisket, but I won’t be trying it again.

Monk: The owner of The Original Q Shack in Durham apparently has Texas roots (again, from my quick research). Which makes it a little odd that the brisket was the worst meat of the three you had that night.

Speedy: I have been told that their brisket is generally good, so maybe I caught it a bad day, but it’s not worth another try for me.

From a sides perspective, the collards were fine and the fried okra was outstanding. This was probably the best fried okra that I’ve had. Unfortunately, when the fried okra is the best part of the meal, there are larger problems afoot.

Overall, The Original Q Shack is way, way, way, way better than The Q Shack in North Hills, but it’s still an average (at best) barbecue meal.

Ratings:
Atmosphere/Ambiance – 3.5 hogs
Pork – 2.5 hogs
Ribs – 3.5 hogs
Brisket – 1 hog
Sides – 4 hogs
Overall – 2.5 Hogs
Original Q Shack on Urbanspoon

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Linkdown: 3/11/15

- The history of naner pudding, the perfect dessert for barbecue

The latest entry in Arrogant Swine’s fantastic How I Built a Barbecue Restaurant in Brooklyn series why restaurants never open on time due to contractors, gas companies, and silly bureaucracy

– In anticipation of this week’s ACC Tournament which started last night (weird), here’s Syracuse.com’s guide to the best eats in the ACC that includes Greensboro (site of this and many many other ACC Tournaments):

Stamey’s (two locations, including 2206 High Point Road, Greensboro, 336-299-9888, @stameysbarbecue)

Especially recommended. Just an old-fashioned southern BBQ establishment, this Stamey’s location is right across the street from the coliseum. It’s packed during the ACC tournament — as well as around lunch on most days. The chopped pork barbecue sandwich (with the slaw on top, naturally) and hush puppies is a great choice, as is the barbecue chicken. Word to the wise: If you want to have dinner there Wednesday or Thursday, leave with four minutes left in the second game of the afternoon session. Otherwise, you’ll wait for a while.

A profile on TMBBQ Editor Daniel Vaughn by Lucky Peach magazine; plus his 3 favorite “fusion-y” places in Texas

– Lucky Peach also spends a day with Aaron Franklin

– Re: Arrogant Swine: Is the Best Brunch in Bushwick Built on Carolina ‘Cue?

– Robert Moss has a short recap of the Cross Culture BBQ event at last weekend’s Charleston Wine + Food Festival

– SXSW Barbecue:

An appreciation of Alabama barbecue, by Daniel Vaughn of TMBBQ

– Menswear blog Red Clay Soul has started their own Georgia barbecue bracket

Today we are kicking off the 1st Annual Georgia BBQ Bracket Challenge with our friends at Peach State Pride.  This should be a GREAT event, and will last until Masters Sunday.  That’s right…five weeks.  We have picked 64 BBQ spots in Georgia (a much tougher task than you’d think), and built a bracket.  There are four regions – named after BBQ sauce flavors: Hot, Mild, Sweet, and Vinegar.  16 spots per region.  We’ll spend one week per region, and the final four will fight it out during Masters week.

– Details on the next NC BBQ Association class

Smoke Modern Barbeque – Huntersville, NC

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Name
: Smoke Modern Barbeque
Date: 2/28/15
Address: 16710 Birkdale Commons, Pkwy #103, Huntersville, North Carolina 28078
Order: Two meat Smokin Q Combo (pork and brisket) with slaw and soda (link to menu)
Price: $20

For a state with a, shall we say, lacking barbecue tradition, Colorado at least kinda seems to know what its doing when it comes to barbecue chains. First, Moe’s Original Bar-B-Que expanded into the Charlotte area with its Matthews location a few years back and now Smoke Modern Barbeque has opened a restaurant in Huntersville. Another one is planned in the Ballantyne area of south Charlotte this summer, taking over for the old City Tavern at Stonecrest.

Smoke is nice inside. Like, probably too nice looking. The servers are dressed in all black and the decor is all modern, straight lines (hence the “modern” in the name, I assume). Based on that description, this has to be too nice of a place to actually serve decent barbecue, right?

Well, after my two meat combo I’d say yea, that’s more or less the case. The small-ish serving of coarsely pulled pork had minimal bark and was not all that smokey. Mrs. Monk’s pork sandwich had several huge strands of pork (as well as some unwanted grizzle) that made it tough for her to chrew at times. I will say, at least the bun was a nice substantial potato bun that held up under the weight of the sandwich and slaw. My recommendation to Smoke would be to utilize cleavers to chop up the pork a little more before serving.

The brisket was a little better, if not stellar. It was a bit more thinly sliced than I like but it did have a nice peppery bark, reminiscent of a central Texas-style brisket. My portion came with a mix of lean and fatty, and I would recommend it if you found yourself there. In fact, if I were to go again (likely at the south Charlotte location to try it out once it opens), I’d probably get the brisket but would also try the jalapeno beef sausage which is actually imported from Kiolbassa Meats in San Antonio.

For a nearly $17 combo, its a bit disappointing that you only get one side but I guess that’s to be expected from upscale, yuppie ‘cue. The cider slaw was fine, but I found it odd that Smoke didn’t have any cornmeal options. Neither cornbread nor hush puppies were anywhere to be seen on the menu.

Smoke seems to emphasize their house made sauces available at each table, with our waiter taking us through a “tour of the sauces” since it was our first time there. They had a red vinegar sauce that wasn’t really Lexington style, a thicker sauce recommended for brisket, an even thicker KC Masterpiece-style sauce, and finally a “Georgia Gold” mustard-based sauce. How they came up with that name is a mystery – if Georgia has a mustard sauce tradition that’s news to me.

You might be tempted to check out Smoke Modern Barbecue on a date night because of its modern decor and upscale-iness, however I just can’t recommend it due to its high prices and small portions, not to mention the barbecue itself is a little lacking. Plus, they spell barbecue with a “q” so they obviously can’t be trusted.

-Monk

Ratings:
Atmosphere/Ambiance – 3 hogs
Pork – 2 hogs
Brisket – 3 hogs
Sides – 3 hogs
Overall – 2.5 hogs
Smoke Modern BBQ on Urbanspoon

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