Name: Rock Store Bar-B-Q
Location: 3116 Old Monroe Rd, Stallings, NC
Order: Sandwich combo - pulled pork sandwich, red slaw, macaroni and cheese
Monk: Ever on the quest to try new barbecue spots, I realized there was one just a few minutes away from my current client site and by looks alone it appeared to have some potential. Rock Store Bar-B-Q is located in the historic Rock Store building, which circa 1936 was “the only gasoline service station around” (per the website) before becoming a convenience store then a coffee shop and now a barbecue restaurant. Their sign advertises “wood smoked” barbecue and to the side of the building there is even a small wood pile on top of a towable smoker (although to my eyes it appears to have been a while since it had been used).
Rock Store’s menu consists of pulled pork, beef brisket, pulled chicken, and ribs. While Speedy and I generally try to grab one of everything, this was just me and I didn’t want to fall asleep at my desk after lunch so I only went for the sandwich combo - pulled pork sandwich, slaw, choice of side, and a drink all for $6 (tax-included).
Rudy: I believe that Speedy already set the standard for eating alone, you still have to eat the entire menu…you don’t have a choice.
Speedy: I have actually been here before, though it was pre-blogging. I don’t remember such an extensive menu, but I do remember the cheap lunch special. This may be worth another visit to try the other meats.
Monk: Side note - the disturbing trend of folks explaining barbecue to me continued, this time with the choice of slaw. They guy at the counter taking my order explains to me “We have a mayonnaise-based slaw and a vinegar-based slaw,” to which I ordered vinegar (obvi). Now this approach is understandable since some people do need the explanation. And I wouldn’t have an issue if he did this to everyone. BUT for customers after me, I distinctly heard the guy ask customers if they wanted “white or red slaw.” No explanation, no patronizing, just treating them as knowledgeable barbecue customers/human beings. So, for the record, to date I have been explained the difference between eastern and western NC barbecue, what white and red slaw is, and what Cheerwine is. Now, all I need is to be explained what mac and cheese or hush puppies are and I will have hit for the cycle of barbecue for dummies. What is going on here? Do I have “YANKEE” stamped on my forehead?
Rudy: You do have a certain “you ain’t from ‘round these parts” look to you…
Speedy: Were you taking a million photos again? Or dressed like you walked out of a Brooks Brothers catalog?
Monk: I mean, I’m pretty sure he didn’t see me taking photos and I was wearing a Brooks Brothers shirt as part of my work attire. ANYWAYS…within seconds of my order, a freshly-made pulled pork sandwich wrapped in tin foil and sides of red slaw and mac and cheese in plastic containers were before me. Inside there are a handful of booths and tables. I got there slightly before the lunch rush and was able to grab a booth with no problem.
In terms of the sandwich, the pulled pork comes out plain on a bun and is actually quite dry. As in dry enough that you absolutely need to use one of the sauces on the table - Eastern NC Vinegar, Carolina Gold (mustard-based), Stallings’ Secret (a tangy barbecue sauce), or Texas Pete. I used the Stallings’ Secret for a few bites before switching over to Eastern NC Vinegar and red slaw for the remainder of the sandwich. The Carolina Gold sauce was not touched.
As far as I could tell, I did not see a stick-burning smoker so I am only to assume they use a gas or electric smoker that allows you to also burn wood to get the smokiness into the meat. However, I fully admit that on this I could be wrong since I did not ask the employees - maybe next time.
Rudy: Only if you want more explanations about how barbecue is made…
Monk: The pork did have some smoke, and while it could have had been smokier I was mostly satisfied. The red slaw came pre-made in a plastic container straight out of the refrigerator but was a little disappointing since the cabbage was chopped more coarsely than I prefer. The mac and cheese was creamy and above average, though maybe in need of a little salt. Decent meal, and you can’t beat the $6 price tag.
Speedy: That sort of mirrors the experience I remember having (which was several years ago). A senior manager from my office was so excited to take me because he knew I loved barbecue and told me he had found the best barbecue he had ever tasted (which could be true - he is a Yankee). Anyway, I just sort of laughed at him after the meal and let him know that if he drove 75 miles north to Lexington, he’s find a dozen spots with better ‘cue. But like you said, a good meal for $6.
Monk: So you’re saying he didn’t want to drive an hour each way for a 10 minute meal? As for Rock Store, I would be interested in coming back again with more folks and sampling the brisket and ribs (though from the looks of the website they might chop the brisket). I don’t know that either would significantly change the below ratings but at the very least I would get a better overall sense of the food. While this meal didn’t blow me away, I can see Rock Store Bar-B-Q becoming a regular lunch spot for me while at my current client - though more of once-a-month spot as opposed to every week or two.
Atmosphere/Ambiance – 3.5 hogs
Pork – 3 hogs
Sides – 2.5 hogs
Overall – 3 hogs