Friday Find: CBS This Morning visits Franklin Barbecue

Yet another behind the scenes look at Franklin Barbecue:

“Franklin Barbecue: A Meat-Smoking Manifesto” shows what Aaron Franklin has perfected since smoking beef brisket for friends in his back yard. Franklin says all good Texans barbecue, but he is special: a James Beard Award winner with eager customers who wait for hours at his restaurant. Vinita Nair takes a behind-the-scenes look at Franklin Barbeque in Austin, Texas.

Linkdown: 4/27/16

– NC State University is holding a barbecue camp in June

– Sam Jones and Ed Mitchell are once again part of The Big Apple Barbecue Block Party

– Grant visits Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q in Decatur, AL – home of the white sauce and “perfectly fine, middle-of-the-pack barbecue”

– TMBBQ interviews Laura Loomis, the 28 year old female pitmaster of Two Bros BBQ in San Antonio

– A roundup of barbecue cookbooks out this spring

– Bullock’s Bar-B-Que in Durham will be closed for a few weeks after a fire

– The Barbecue Festival in Lexington is a food festival within driving distance from Charlotte that defines NC cuisine, according to Charlotte Five

– Speaking of Lexington, this blog considers it one of the 14 best places in the world for barbecue and we fully agree (although it mistakenly attributes Stamey’s in Greensboro to Lexington)

– Houston Chronicle BBQ writer JC Reid on the pitfalls of defining true ‘cue

Needless to say, a few pitmasters took umbrage with this definition and compliance method. Pitmaster Carey Bringle of the popular Peg Leg Porker barbecue restaurant in Nashville responded on his Facebook page: “I can assure you that (the True ‘Cue folks) are not experts. First off, they are writers, not pitmasters.”

– Potential “Pitmaster General”?

Queen City Q – Charlotte, NC (RE-REVIEW)

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Name
: Queen City Q
Date: 4/13/16
Address: 225 E 6th St, Charlotte, NC 28202
Order: Super Q platter (pork, brisket, sausage, ribs) with eastern NC bbq slaw and hush puppies (link)
Price: $28

Speedy: So after Monk panned the Concord Queen City Q location last week, we decided we needed to go back to the flagship to see how it stacked up. In the past, we’ve had pretty good experiences, so we needed to find out if Monk just had a one-off bad experience or if quality had started to slip across the board.

Monk: Before Hornets home games, Queen City Q is packed to the gills and the wait time can reach upwards of 45 minutes. Our visit before the final home game of the season was no exception but after waiting in the packed lower bar area, we were able to snag a high top. Regardless of whether the food was still any good or not, it was evident to me that Queen City Q was probably doing just alright in terms of business.

Speedy: The sausage at QCQ has always been my favorite meat. And today was no different. The sausage is served split with a mustard sauce and it just works. The meat is finished on a grill and has very solid flavor. It doesn’t try to be anything it’s not with fancy flavors or fillers – it’s just good. So the first meat is a go.

Monk: While Speedy considers the ribs to be one of the better meats at QCQ, they were overdone and pretty tough on this occasion. Seeing as how they came in individual bones as opposed to a half rack I wonder if perhaps they had been under a heat lamp after they were cut and that ultimately did them in. Whatever the reason they were just average.

Speedy: I was a little disappointed in the ribs as well. They were fine, but not as good as I had remembered. For the brisket, though, I need to find a better word than disappointed. It was flat out bad. It tasted like it had been cooked the previous day and reheated. There was no tenderness to the meat and it took a significant amount of barbecue sauce just to finish. It’s been a long time since I’ve had brisket at QCQ, and it will be a long time before I do so again.

Monk: The pork was at least better than the dry, stringy mess I got in Concord. It was tender and moist to the point where I didn’t reach for a table sauce. This was more along the lines of the quality I remembered.

Speedy: We had red slaw and hush puppies as sides, which were pretty good. I know Monk was a little disappointed in the sides at the Concord location, but these were both acceptable. Nothing to get too excited about, but they won’t affect my decision on whether to go back.

Monk: In my review of the Concord location, I wondered if it was a one-off disappointing experience at a satellite location or an indication of an overall drop in quality for Queen City Q. Unfortunately, with this review I am pretty firmly convinced that it’s the latter.

Ratings:
Atmosphere – 3 hogs
Pork – 2.5 hogs
Brisket – 1 hog
Sausage – 3.5 hogs
Ribs – 2.5 hogs
Sides – 3 hogs
Overall – 2.5 hogs

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Linkdown: 4/19/16

Eastern NC barbecue is coming to Etowah in Western NC from one of the guys behind the Bling Pig Supper Club in Asheville

– Whereas Elliott Moss was the first to bring whole hog barbecue to the area so here’s a profile from Food Republic

– The final stops for Grant on his barbecue tour of (mostly North) Carolina barbecue joints: a Lexington Barbecue redux, Richard’s in Salisbury, and Mike & Jeff’s BBQ Diner in Greenville

– B’s BBQ and Lexington Barbecue make this list of 25 Restaurants You Have To Visit In North Carolina Before You Die

– The BBQ on the Bluff competition is this weekend in Fair Bluff, NC

– Would NC uniting under a mustard-based barbecue sauce lead to the immediate repeal of HB#2? Charlotte Magazine thinks so in this tongue-in-cheek article

– Some are even getting their own Heinz barbecue sauce…

Linkdown: 4/13/16

– Grant continues his barbecue tour of the NC Piedmont (that neither Speedy nor Monk were unable to join him on any part of, sadly): Smiley’s in Lexington, Fuzzy’s in Madison, Stamey’s in Greensboro, and Little Richard’s in Winston-Salem

– On his book blog, Grant also reviews a new barbecue book, “The One True Barbecue” by Rien Fertels, who along with photographer Denny Culbert was behind The Barbecue Bus

– The book is also included in this rundown along with John Shelton Reed’s upcoming book Barbecue

– Robert Moss posits that wood v gas is perhaps the wrong question when it comes to barbecue

– Shots fired from Alton Brown at unnamed southern barbecue restaurants

“It’s funny with barbecue, because the most beloved barbecue places in the South, by and large, serve the shittiest barbecue. I will stand by that. Places that people will drive hours to get to, barbecue’s not that great, but it’s still there. It’s been there. My mom brought me here. My grandparents are from here.?

– In case you were wondering what “Cleveland-style barbecue” was again…

You’re calling the food at Mabel’s “Cleveland-style barbecue.” What does that mean, exactly?
We’re inspired more by Eastern Europe than the South in our flavor profile. Cleveland is a big Eastern European melting pot, so I wanted to offer a menu that reflected the cuisine. For instance, instead of hot links, we serve kielbasa. Our spice blends, our sides… they’re very reminiscent of what you’d find in Cleveland, like smoked beets with horseradish, sauerkraut and Cleveland brown mustard. We’re also smoking with apple and cherry woods, which are native to the region.

Queen City Q – Concord, NC

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Name
: Queen City Q (Concord)
Date: 3/31/16
Address: 8524 Pit Stop Ct NW, Concord, NC 28027
Order: Big Q platter (pork, brisket, sausage) with eastern NC bbq slaw and hush puppies (link)
Price: $23.75

Monk: Ever since our last official review of Queen City Q nearly 4 years ago (and two weeks into starting this blog), they’ve been in full on expansion mode. There is now an additional 3 locations – Concord, Matthews, Ballantyne – and they have become the official barbecue of several local sports teams – Hornets, the Knights minor league baseball team, and the Checkers minor league hockey team – which means that they have an expanded presence in each of the respective stadiums or arenas. They’ve also since severed their relationship with Dan “Boone” Gibson, who has gone on to have (in our mind) the best barbecue in the Charlotte area from his own food truck. With all of these changes, is the barbecue still any good at the expansions? I checked out the Concord location (across the street from the Concord Mills mall) to see for myself. I will saw that even though the last official review was 4 years ago, I’ve certainly been to the original 6th Street location several times since – particularly since dads eat free on Father’s Day.

I ordered the Big Q platter and chose pork, brisket, and sausage as my meats. When it came out, the platter was more or less a not-great looking heap of brown meats. The best one of the 3 (and pretty good in its own right) was the sausage. The sausage (not sure if its housemade or not) is split in the middle and finished on the grill. It paired well with the SC mustard I requested on the side. The eastern NC pork was an unflattering shade of brown and just generally lacked flavor. Even adding “Lexington dip” table sauce didn’t help it much. The brisket was plain bad. Now, Queen City Q has always had a slightly unorthodox way of preparing the brisket in that they smoke it, finish it on the grill, and then douse with one of their sauces. In this case, it presumably comes drenched in sauce to hide the fact that it was not smoked very well and had a rubbery consistency.

Speedy: Like Monk, I’ve been a pretty consistent customer for the 6th Street location, especially before Hornets games. I’m really surprised by this review, as my experiences at the mothership have always been solid. I agree that the sausage is the best meat, but I’ve been known to order about anything on the menu. I will say that my second favorite meat at QCQ has been the ribs, which Monk did not order. But still – sounds like a disappointing visit.

Monk: …Seems like a textbook case of an “official re-review is in order” if you ask me.

As for the sides, the eastern NC slaw was nothing you would expect it to be – it contained no mayonnaise and even had a reddish tint to it. In fact, I think they have simply mislabeled it since it’s a Lexington-style red slaw – that or they do not know the difference. The hush puppies were slightly burnt so even though the insides were fluffy the outside left a bitter taste in my mouth. They also threw in a piece of Texas toast which was, you know, toast.

If this is a sign of where this local restaurant chain is headed (as opposed to a one-off bad experience), I may have to move Queen City Q way down in the rankings in light of this visit. Very disappointing.

Ratings:
Atmosphere – 3 hogs
Pork – 2 hogs
Brisket – 1 hog
Sausage – 3.5 hogs
Sides – 2 hogs
Overall – 2 hogs

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Linkdown: 4/6/16

– Congrats to Red Bridges Barbecue Lodge on winning the Thrillist’s Barbecue Bracket!

– Grant makes us feel inadequate after visiting his 20th joint (out of 23) on the Historic NC Barbecue Trail

– Speaking of the NC BBQ Trail, it is included on this list of the Toronto Star’s spring roadtrips

– John T Edge is the latest to visit Sam Jones BBQ