Linkdown: 4/29/15

Et tu, Scott Avett?

Where is your favorite place in North Carolina? And where is your favorite place to eat North Carolina ‘cue?
Scott Avett: We travel so much, but North Carolina is a great place to come home to. It’s all terrific from the mountains to the coast. I was raised on Lexington barbecue, but I would have to say Skylight Inn in Eastern N.C. is the best on the planet after the experience I had a few weeks ago.

– Queen City Q will be serving their barbecue at the upcoming Wells Fargo Championship

– USA Today’s 10Best has a reader’s choice vote for best southern barbecue; vote once per day here until May 25 although they left off some crucial ones

– A barbecue round table on the state of American barbecue with several prominent barbecue writers and minds

– Elon University’s student paper review Stokely’s BBQ in Burlington

– The last Memphis-area barbecue joint for Marie, Let’s Eat! is Germantown Commissary

– One man’s thoughts on barbecue snobbery

In conclusion, let’s just all agree to eat more barbecue. Tell the barbecue snobs to take a hike and chill out. You can compete against someone if you enjoy that kind of thing. It won’t bother me (as long as I get to eat some of it). In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy the kind of barbecue sauce I like and you can enjoy the kind of barbecue sauce you like — mustard, mayonnaise, tomato — it makes no difference to me. Everyone will be happy, and as John Steinbeck once wrote, “Once again the world was spinning in greased grooves.”

– At Midway BBQ in Buffalo, SC (south east of Spartanburg), Amy and Jay Allen are keeping the barbecue tradition of her father alive and hash is the best seller on the menu

– Brisket prices are headed back down

– A burger chain that was owned by the same restaurant group as Midwood Smokehouse was sold yesterday but in other news a Columbia, SC location is coming!

Owner Frank Scibelli and his team will now focus on new concepts and growing Midwood Smokehouse, which will expand to Columbia, S.C., where they’re currently working out a lease. And there’s no need to worry Midwood Smokehouse will be sold anytime soon, he says. For the near future, at least, it will stay a Charlotte restaurant.

– For those that will be in Asheville this weekend

Home Team BBQ – Sullivan’s Island, SC

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Name
: Home Team BBQ
Date: 4/18/14
Address: 2209 Middle Street, Sullivan’s Island, SC
Order: 2 meat combo (brisket and ribs), brunswick stew, fries (link to menu)
Price: $15

Speedy: Previously, I had checked out Home Team BBQ on a trip to Charleston but I left feeling a little disappointed. I stated that I probably wouldn’t be going back, opting to try other joints instead. Well, I lied. The proximity of the Sullivan’s Island location led me and a group of college friends there for lunch after a late Friday night. So here I ended up.

The atmosphere is fairly similar to the West Ashley location – a bit dark, with more of a bar feel than restaurant. They have a nicely stocked bar and an excellent beer selection. Unlike West Ashley, the Sullivan’s Island location has a wait staff, and we quickly ordered our meals. From my last visit, the ribs were my favorite part of the meal, so that was a no brainer for the order. I had recently sworn off eating brisket in NC, but since I was in the lesser Carolina, I figured I’d give that a go as well.

Monk: Apologies to our South Carolina readers…

Speedy: The ribs were as I remembered – nicely smoked and flavorful, but not quite as tender as I like. I did add a little spicy sauce, which was good as well, but I prefer them dry overall. I stand by the ribs being the best meat at the restaurant.

Unfortunately, I’m probably done with SC brisket now as well. The slices I presented were, by far, the thickest brisket slices I’ve ever had. It was from the point of the brisket and was just way, way too fatty. There was some decent bark, which was nice, but it just was not an enjoyable piece of meat to eat. A mixture of fatty and lean (I wasn’t asked) might’ve solved this, but overall, I was disappointed.

Monk: So would thinner slices have been better? Or was it just not a good cut of meat?

Speedy: Hard to say. I think thinner slices would’ve helped because there wouldn’t have been such large chunks of fat. But it very well could’ve just been an extra fatty brisket.

The brunswick stew was good, and something I don’t recall seeing on my previous trip, so that was pretty big time in terms of side choices. I enjoyed all my sides last time, so I’m assuming the ones I didn’t repeat are still equally good.

Overall, my impression of Home Team BBQ did not change. It’s an enjoyable experience, but the ‘cue is not the main reason to go.

For what it’s worth, my college friends who were there (from Chicago, Philly, DC, and Denver) all loved it, so I might be a harsh critic but such is life as a Barbecue Bro.

Ratings:
Atmosphere – 4 hogs
Ribs – 3 hogs
Brisket – 2 hogs
Sides – 4.5 hogs
Overall – 2.5 hogs
Home Team BBQ on Urbanspoon

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Friday Find: Barbecue Bros on (German) TV – non-narrated English version

Well, it’s not quite the finished product but our German producer friend Lars passed along this rough cut version of our TV debut that is in English but doesn’t have any narration (German, English, or otherwise). From our previous post, here is the breakdown of our scenes (presuming the time codes match up).

  • 00:13 – A shot of Speedy and I walking to the smokehouse at Switzerland Cafe, as well as me taking photos at our meal
  • 00:39 – Speedy takes a bite out of a rib at 12 Bones Smokehouse
  • 15:35 – This is the beginning of the segment of Speedy and I, starting with an establishing shot of the two of us, then me driving in my car on the way to Little Switzerland, and Speedy searching for joints on his phone
  • 15:56 – Speedy explaining some of the reasons why we started the blog from the back of my car
  • 16:14 – Me pulling into Little Switzerland Cafe in the rain; the spot I pulled into was way too tight for my car but I stayed in it because it wouldn’t have been as cool to pull out, choose a spot two spots over, and then pull back in, possibly requiring some more straightening
  • 16:23 – Speedy and I walking back to the smokehouse, similar to the shot used at the beginning of the show; my NC barbecue shirt appears to be more of a “smedium” than a medium and also, I hate the sound of my voice
  • 16:48 – Another shot of me taking photos, this time of the smoked fish from Little Switzerland; I then take a bite and say some really insightful commentary: “its good…it’s different, but its not bad” – brilliant, I know
  • 19:43 – I try to provide some TV-worthy comments while driving; again, super insightful stuff
  • 23:13 – A shot of us pulling into the back of 12 Bones Smokehouse and right up to the smoker, which is definitely something we always do; my smedium shirt makes another appearance
  • 23:29 – Speedy does a good job of explaining what we look for when we check out the smoker – woodpiles (and type of wood), gas, electric, type of smoker, etc
  • 23:48 – More shots of me taking photos (notice a pattern?)
  • 24:15 – “Over the last few years, we really consider ourselves ‘barbecue pilgrims’” – this was a line fed to us from the producer and cameraman; maybe just a little corny but they really wanted us to incorporate it into our conversation; I tried to use it a second time and they were like “once was enough, you don’t need to overdo it”
  • 24:30 – Starting here for about 25 seconds, they used shots of plates I’ve taken from our various reviews as well as voice over from (I believe) me about Lexington-style barbecue being our favorite; gotta say, seeing my photos in a montage was pretty cool

Monk

Linkdown: 4/22/15

– The BBQ Capital Cook-Off is this weekend in Lexington

– And on that note, Visit NC has a Lexington barbecue tour itinerary

– 12 Bones makes Bon Appetit’s list of eating and drinking your way through Asheville

– Aaron Franklin’s barbecue book reviewed by Eater, who call it “a Master Class in Perfectionist Technique”

– Robert Moss says there’s always room for banana pudding and we have no arguments

– An employee was apparently stabbed at Sauceman’s in Charlotte yesterday

– Marie, Let’s Eat! visited Memphis a few weeks back and the reviews have started to come in: Leonard’s Pit Bar-B-Que, Cozy Corner Restaurant, Tops Bar-B-Que, and Three Little Pigs Bar-B-Q

– BBQ Snob seems to have enjoyed his visit to Arrogant Swine, calling it “an honest version of Eastern North Carolina whole hog”

M&K Bar-B-Que – Granite Quarry, NC

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Name: M&K Barbecue
Date: 3/27/15
Address: 215 S Salisbury Ave, Granite Quarry, NC 28146
Order: Chopped plate with fries/slaw/hushpuppies, cheerwine
Price: $10 (including tip)

Speedy: I had a hankering for good ‘cue while driving down I-85 recently, so Monk suggested I try out M&K Barbecue, another spot on the NC historic barbecue trail. Due to my tendency to stop off at Lexington barbecue whenever I’m anywhere near it, I hadn’t eaten at M&K before, so I was excited to check it out.

Monk: Thanks for checking this place out. I hope to someday as well since its not too far of 85 in Granite Quarry, but we’re never going to finish out the NC historic barbecue trail unless we get our hustle on.

Speedy: Well it was a real chore, but someone had to do it…

M&K is a classic old school joint. Upon entering, you sit where you like and a waitress comes over immediately. I was there after the Friday lunch rush, so there were plenty of tables to choose from. I seemed to be the only non-regular in the restaurant, which I think is actually a pretty good sign.

Monk: Yea, I’d say that is as good a sign as any.

Speedy: The order was easy, as I have a standard at any old school NC joint – chopped ‘cue with red slaw, fries, and hush puppies. And, of course, a Cheerwine. The food came out shortly after my order. The first thing I noticed was the portion – the ‘cue plate is massive. I ended up packing up half the plate to go and had it for a second meal the next day. And it was definitely good enough to warrant bringing home.

The pork had really good flavor with a hint of smoke and was plenty tender. The chop was slightly coarser than Lexington style, but it didn’t take away from my enjoyment. My order did not have too much outside brown – next time I’ll probably specify that in my request. I ended up adding a bit of dip and Texas Pete while eating, but I could’ve gone without – the pork wasn’t dry.

The sides were pretty good. I really enjoyed the red slaw and especially enjoyed the large hushpuppies. Neither side was too sweet, which I think happens from time to time with both red slaw and hushpuppies.

Overall, this was a really good meal from a good, old-timey joint. This is a place I think I’ll check out again.

Ratings:
Atmosphere/Ambiance – 3.5 hogs
Pork – 4 hogs
Sides – 4 hogs
Overall – 4 Hogs
M&K Barbecue & Country Cooking on Urbanspoon

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Linkdown: 4/15/15

– San Francisco gets (presumably) its first Lexington-style barbecue joint, Rusty’s Southern

Prior to the restaurant’s opening, the Olsons and Rubio did restaurant recon by visiting various barbecue joints in the Carolinas, including Wayne Monk’s famous, Beard Award-winning Lexington Barbecue in Lexington, NC. They were so impressed with Monk’s barbecue that this is the style they decided to emulate.

– 150 years ago, Raleigh did not burn. Why? Barbecue.

Union Gen. William T. Sherman stormed back into Raleigh on Monday, 150 years from the day the city was captured at the Civil War’s end, but there were a few differences this time.

Unlike the situation on April 13, 1865, this Sherman had to wait for permission to enter the North Carolina Executive Mansion. But just as he did then, Sherman reassured Raleighites that he had no intention of burning the city, a fate some Confederate cities had suffered during his drive through Georgia and the Carolinas.

“Raleigh, I didn’t burn it,” said Sherman, played by actor Ira David Wood III. “You want to know why? Barbecue.”

– Speaking of Raleigh:

– The Come-See-Me Festival in Rock Hill features the 8th annual Barbecue Cook-Off

– Barbecue beef and brisket has started to invade the Cape Fear region in eastern NC

– In DC, three Republican congressmen filed with the Federal Election Commission Tuesday an “Americans for BBQ” fundraising committee.

– Things are continuing to shape up at the Ballantyne Midwood Smokehouse

Sauceman’s BBQ & Grill – Charlotte, NC (RE-REVIEW)

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Name
: Sauceman’s BBQ & Grill
Date: 4/3/15
Address: 228 West Blvd, Charlotte, NC 28203
Order: Monk:Two-meat sampler with pork and brisket, Texas toast, red slaw, mac and cheese, Cheerwine; Speedy: Two-meat sampler with pork and ½ rack of ribs, hush puppies, and red slaw  (link to menu)
Price: Monk: $18; Speedy: $16

Monk: Well, Speedy and I tried going to Old Hickory House one last time but on the Friday before it closed at its current location for good they had sold out by 11:45am. Speedy and I still wanted barbecue so we decided to try Sauceman’s again. I had noted in our previous review almost two years ago that I was curious how their (somewhat) dry pork would fare during the lunch hour. So here we were, ready to give it another go.

Speedy: As I thought Sauceman’s was kind of average in our first review, I hadn’t made a point to get back. However, I’d always thought that in theory, it should be very good – as they don’t seem to cut any corners. I also really like the menu – I think it has everything a good ‘cue joint should. One complaint from last time was that they had no combo platters. This has been remedied, so Monk and I were able to each order two meats.

Sauceman’s cooks its pork Lexington style, but it doesn’t seem to be served that way. Lexington ‘cue is chopped much finer and sauced while chopping. That doesn’t seem to be the case here. So while the pork does have good flavor (I could use more bark), it just tastes dry. Adding some of the dip from the table helps some, but I think Sauceman’s could help itself out by adding dip to it’s saucing process.

Monk: I couldn’t agree more. For a so-called Lexington-style joint it just doesn’t come across in the pork for the reasons Speedy mentions above.

As for the brisket slices, they contained both the flat as well as the point and predictably the point was fattier and moist while the flat was slightly dry due to being overcooked. The slices did have a nice, peppery bark that provided a pop of smoke and flavor, however. We actually didn’t try the brisket last time around (and now Speedy has apparently sworn off all brisket in NC) but I’d say it was a passable version of a central Texas-style brisket.

Speedy: I stand by my decision not to try the brisket. I don’t feel like I missed anything. Brisket, I miss you, but I’ll see you soon on my next trip to Texas.

I remembered the ribs being good and I was pleased with them again. In the two years since we were last at Sauceman’s, I’ve drifted a bit towards drier ribs, so I thought these may have been slightly oversauced, but that’s nitpicking. They were cooked almost perfectly and had great flavor. While eating these ribs, I thought to myself that I might be eating the best rib in Charlotte. After thinking that through, I’m not sure I can confidently make that declaration, but they definitely have to be in the conversation.

Monk: We do need to come up with our best in each meat for Charlotte, but that’s a discussion for another day…

Sauceman’s does have a red slaw which we always love to see, and a decent version at that. I was a dummy and forgot to replace the Texas toast that comes with the with hush puppies. And the mac and cheese was solid but very creamy and almost too heavy for a nice spring day on the patio.

Speedy: Overall, I think a two year hiatus to Sauceman’s may have been a bit too long. It’s a good restaurant and it deserves patronage, particularly in the summer when the awesome patio is usable.

Ratings:
Atmosphere/Ambiance – 3.5 hogs
Pork – 3 hogs
Ribs – 3.5 hogs
Brisket – 3 hogs
Sides – 3 hogs
Overall – 3 hogs

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Linkdown: 4/8/15

– If you are still wanting to participate in a barbecue-related bracket, Red Clay Soul’s Georgia barbecue bracket is down to the Final Four and voting ends at 10pm ET tonight

– The latest in Arrogant Swine’s Serious Eats series examines the sounds of being the boss, and ends on a really great note about his assistant Roland

My assistant Roland came from the Doe Fund, a halfway house for the homeless. Mistakes from a previous life guaranteed that his resume was heading into the trash can everywhere he looked. Even his parole officer called me, asking if I was sure I wanted to have him around. In Roland I found a student, one who was eager not only to work but also develop a passion for cooking whole hog barbecue. If you ever walk by the Swine at 2 a.m. and smell the smoke from our burning oak logs, wave towards the pit room. You’ll likely see Roland smile and wave right back.

Towards the end of 2014, Time Out magazine compiled a top 100 list of dishes around New York City. In the meat section stood our whole hog barbecue. I posted a picture of Roland for all the world to see. Here was a man who before the Swine never worked a day in the kitchen, competing head to head with the best and most talented chefs in the world. He looked triumphant, and I was bursting with pride.

– Burger Mary takes a deeper look at The Joint, a Texas-style barbecue joint in New Orleans

– Mac’s Speed Shop on South Blvd is one of Charlotte Five’s Top 10 places to have a beer outside in Charlotte

– Old Hickory House closed its N. Tryon location last Saturday but sounds like they could be reopening at a new location at some point

Serving a packed house this week shows them the support from the community, hoping they decide to reopen somewhere else.

“We’re just going to take it easy for a little while, probably get back into it. Where, I don’t know, but somewhere local,” said Carter.

– Wendell man Christopher Prieto has released a barbecue and smoking book, entitled Southern Living Ultimate Book of BBQ

More coverage on Midwood Smokehouse’s upcoming Charlotte location in Ballantyne

– Bob Garner’s (aka the Minister of Barbecue Culture at Raleigh’s The Pit) latest book reviewed

– Several barbecue restaurants are deemed the best restaurant in each NC county by Charleston Food Bloggers including The Smoke Pit in Cabarrus, Red Bridges Barbecue Lodge in Cleveland, Lexington Barbecue in Davidson (duh), Tarheel Bar-B-Q in Gates, and Parker’s Barbecue in Pitt

– Once again, congrats to Red Bridges Barbecue Lodge for their championship in Garden and Gun’s Ultimate Barbecue Bracket