Friday Find: Whole Hog BBQ is Alive and Well in Nashville Thanks To Pat Martin’s Bar-B-Que

Eater’s How We Eat video series takes a trip to Nashville to talk with Pat Martin of Martin’s Bar-B-Que.

In West Tennessee, whole hog barbecue is a dying art, but pitmaster Pat Martin is working to change the story. How We Eat visits Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint in Nashville this week to learn about the smokey tradition, how it differs from other barbecue methods around the country, and what Martin and his team are doing to preserve the practice.

 

Linkdown: 2/15/17

– TMBBQ on the italian influences of Texas BBQ in Waco

– An inside look at day one at Rodney Scott’s BBQ last week

– It opened without a hitch after a day or two of soft opening

– If you missed last week’s Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern as they traveled to Buxton Hall and Fox Bros among others on the “Southern BBQ Trail”, you have a couple more chances to check it out

– Speaking of which, Zimmern has some goodies from his stops available at his website

– Marie, Let’s Eat! visits the Athens, TN location of the Buddy’s Bar-B-Q chain and left unimpressed

– An oldie but goodie from Our State

Seoul Food Meat Co – Charlotte, NC

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Name
: Seoul Food Meat Co
Date: 2/10/17
Address: 1400 S Church St, Charlotte, NC 28203
Order: Small pulled pork, small Crispy Pork Belly, small Bulgogi Sausage, ramen mac ’n cheese, soy pickled deviled eggs (link to menu)
Price: $41.75 (for two)

Monk: When Seoul Food Meat Co opened about a year ago in Charlotte’s booming South End neighborhood, my hopes were that it would be Charlotte’s version of the fantastic Heirloom Market BBQ in Atlanta. That may be an easy comparison to make since both are doing a fusion of Korean flavors with southern barbecue, but after finally checking out Seoul Food Meat Co I’d say that Heirloom has the edge in smoked meats while Seoul Food has the edge in the fusion of Korean flavors in its side dishes.

Seoul Food Meat Co is one of many recent additions to the South End bar, brewery, and restaurant scene and has a nice patio with garage doors that open up on warmer days. Based on the plans we’ve seen of its expansion, it’s only going to get better with dedicated karaoke rooms as well as an outdoor bar and  “adult playground” out back. Despite the warm winter, this particular Friday was on the colder side so we had no such luck to experience the patio.

The generous portion of pulled pork comes pre-sauced with a thick tangy Korean barbecue sauce. By itself, the pork is not the smokiest and perhaps lacks a little flavor while being on the dry side. I will say, it’s better with the sauce.

The crispy pork belly is exactly like its name implies. I didn’t detect a lot of smoke on them, so I believe this was more of a fried item – particularly with the crispy skin which I found myself continuing to nosh on long after I decided I was finished with my meal. 

The bulgogi sausage was perhaps a little on the dry side (as can be the case with sausage) but was pretty flavorful nonetheless and my favorite meat of the meal. Mrs. Monk preferred to dip it in the sauce and that was my preference as well. Next time I’d be interested to try their spicier smoked kimchi sausage.

The Korean influence was particularly evident in the sides at Seoul Food. I quite liked the ramen mac n’ cheese with its small pieces of cracklin’ on top to give it a nice texture. The soy pickled deviled eggs threw off the wife at first with its brown coloring of the egg itself, but in the end had a fairly classic taste just with that slight Asian spin. Looking at the menu, there are a handful more Korean-Southern sides that I hope to get around to trying eventually – sriracha cracklins, kimchi vinegar slaw, and choiang broccoli.

So its not quite Heirloom Market but all in all, the southern-dishes-with-a-Korean-spin were mostly successful. While a little on the pricey side, the portions do seem to be quite generous – we could have ordered one less meat (say the pork belly at $13) and have been more than full. I look forward to checking out Seoul Food Meat Co again during the warmer months and checking out more of their meats (particularly that beef rib) and sides.

Ratings:
Atmosphere – 4 hogs
Pork – 3 hogs
Pork Belly – 3 hogs
Sausage – 3.5 hogs
Sides – 4 hogs
Overall – 3 hogs
Seoul Food Meat Co. Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Seoul Food Meat Co

Linkdown: 2/8/17

– You’ve got two days left to vote in this very important poll

– More on Mobile, AL’s The Brick Pit being saved by both social media as well as faith

– The latest stop for Marie, Let’s Eat! is Spencer B’s BBQ just south of the Tennessee-Georgia line and it contains some of his discussion with Speedy from their visit to B’s Cracklin’ Bar-B-Q on New Year’s Eve (pardon the long block of text)

I suggested that a big reason I’ve been so disappointed with the options around Chattanooga is that barbecue in Georgia can be so radically different everywhere and anywhere you go that it’s impossible to get bored, and incredibly difficult to predict what any new place will be like. The flavor profiles, the sauces, the techniques, these can all vary spectacularly in the same small town.

Speedy wasn’t ready to agree with that. After all, he grew up eating Lexington-style pork and slaw trays in central North Carolina, and it’s certainly true that in my limited experience, not just in Lexington itself but in the whole Greensboro-Salisbury corridor, you don’t see variety with quite the broad brush that I’m talking about there. So it’s certainly possible that what I’m finding in eastern Tennessee is what comes naturally in other places: people who’ve lived here for decades grow up perfecting a style which draws inspiration from what’s in the community already.

The problem, to put it delicately, is that Lexington-style barbecue is a million, billion times yummier than what’s going on in eastern Tennessee and northwestern Georgia.

– Charleston Eater takes a sneak peek at Rodney Scott’s BBQ in Charleston, which is so dang close to opening

– Here’s a closer look at the menu from Charleston City Paper; while people may have complained, when it opens Rodney Scott’s pork by the pound price will be right in line with the average in Charleston

– In case you missed Andrew Zimmern’s Bizarre Foods, he went to a few barbecue joints in the southeast – including Fox Bros BBQ, Buxton Hall Barbecue, and Shealy’s BBQ

– First We Feast is just asking for a fight from all of the different barbecue factions

Big Tiny’s BBQ – Mooresville, NC

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Name: Big Tiny’s BBQ
Date: 1/16/17
Address: 179 N Main St, Mooresville, NC 28115
Order: ¼ lb brisket, ¼ lb Texas sausage, ¼ lb pork spare ribs, Natty Greene’s Session IPA (link to menu)
Price: $16.59

Monk: While you can find a couple of pretty darn good briskets in and around Charlotte (Midwood Smokehouse and The Smoke Pit immediately come to mind), it’s usually at a place that serves a little bit of everything in terms of barbecue cuisine (John Shelton Reed calls that model the “International House of Barbecue” model). Big Tiny’s BBQ is a newish joint in Mooresville that is truly trying to replicate a Texas style joint in NC – think Rudy’s Country Store and Bar-B-Q (mainly because that is exactly what they are going for).

In addition to being super nice people, owners John and Elizabeth Maddox are both Texans that have been in Mooresville for the past 15 years. After years of John smoking as a hobby and then as a side job, they opened their location in downtown Mooresville in a beautiful space last summer. Being that they are both new to the restaurant industry – John worked in auto racing and Elizabeth in insurance – they are learning more about running a restaurant and consistency of product each day. Based on what I saw 4 months in, they are off to a great start.

The layout of Tiny’s is has guests form a line as soon as they enter before they are greeted by a couple of tubs filled with beers and soft drinks in glass bottles before stepping up to a counter where they order meats by the ¼ or ½ pound. Those meats are then sliced and weighed in front of the customer. Even for fast casual barbecue restaurants in the area, this is a unique experience where you are paying by the pound even if you aren’t buying in bulk. They wrap the meats in foil and place into a plastic carrying container (apparently another cue from Rudy’s) with butcher paper and white bread. Then off the customer goes to the long picnic-style tables with red and white gingham table cloths where they can spread out and dig in.

As for the meats, Big Tiny’s is using a Cookshack pellet smoker from Oklahoma. I am not sure if I’ve ever eaten barbecue smoked on a Cookshack but in any case they are able to get a lot of smoke onto the meats. The brisket – I don’t recall there being a choice between lean or fatty – was moist and had a nice peppery bark as well as a good tug to it. The sausage is imported from Texas and had a nice snap and spice to it. The rib was smoked nicely and didn’t pull completely away from the bone with each chew. And the turkey, which I got a few sample slices of after I sat down, was lean, well smoked, and a nice alternative. In general the meats are consistently pretty excellent.

One thing you won’t find on the menu is chopped or pulled pork, and John assured me that will always be the case, no matter how many times they may get asked from locals who are used to barbecue joints automatically serving pork. They want to stay true to their Texas roots, and in a way I can respect them for that approach.

While I only ordered meats (after having just come from Bar-B-Q King in Lincolnton), I got a small sample of the corn casserole which was fantastic. It has been adapted from a family recipe, as has several other of the scratch made sides on the menu.

Named after their first dog, whose large portrait is one of the first pictures you see as you get in line, Big Tiny’s BBQ is a worthy addition to the barbecue scene in the Charlotte area. It ably fills a niche in our pork-centric barbecue culture, and I hope that the locals give John and Elizabeth Maddox’s Texas-style joint a fair shake. I certainly plan to go back next time I’m in the area.

Ratings:
Atmosphere – 3.5 hogs
Brisket – 4 hogs
Sausage – 4 hogs
Ribs – 4 hogs
Turkey – 3.5 hogs
Sides – 4.5 hogs
Overall – 4 hogs

Linkdown: 2/1/17

– The Brick Pit in Mobile, AL gets a second life thanks to a Facebook post

– Marie, Let’s Eat! visits Mike’s Smokehouse in Chattanooga, which is among the better barbecue joints in the area

– In case you might be doing some brisket smoking for the Super Bowl

– I love Robert Jacob Lerma’s barbecue photography

– An older article where Robert Moss picks SC’s most underrated barbecue

– If you’re ever laid over in the Houston airport, it might be a good idea to head to Gatlin’s Q

– Put your barbecue knowledge to the test (I got 80/100)

Bar-B-Q King – Lincolnton, NC

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Name
: Bar-B-Q King
Date: 1/16/17
Address: 2613 E Main St, Lincolnton, NC 28092
Order: Q King sandwich with hush puppies, onion rings, and sweet tea (link to menu)
Price: $0 (my meal was graciously picked up but that did not in any way affect my review)

Monk: Bar-B-Q King in Lincolnton (not to be confused with the drive in of the same name in Charlotte) is one of those joints I’ve always been somewhat aware of but haven’t ever made a point to go to. After checking it out recently on the invitation of Jordan, a son of co-owner Keith Smith and the social media manager, I wish I had gone much sooner.

At the lunch hour on a Monday, a steady stream of locals are usually lined up several deep at the multiple register counter. “Hollerin’ orders” has apparently been the longtime system to communicate orders in the kitchen and was certainly the first time I’ve ever witnessed anything like it. In case its not evident in the name, as customers order at the register their order is literally yelled from the order taker to the kitchen staff who then acknowledge the order and begin putting it together. It’s surely a sight to see.

That alone would be worth the visit to Bar-B-Q King but thankfully the barbecue more than backs it up. They smoke their pork shoulders daily over hickory coals and hand chop the pork each morning. I would call their style pretty closely aligned to Lexington-style, though they do offer a white slaw option. The sandwich I got was fantastic – the chop was not too coarse, the pork was tender and smoky, and the red slaw accentuated it all perfectly.

The house-made hush puppies were quite good and the onion rings are their best selling side for a obvious reasons after tasting them. Had I not been checking out another joint an hour later I would have gladly finished both of them and left completely stuffed.

Last fall, Bar-B-Q King celebrated its 45th anniversary, so I can imagine that it’s quite an institution in the town of Lincolnton – and rightly so. If Jordan, who took me on a tour of the smokehouse and kitchen, is any indication there are quality people behind the joint who work hard to put out a great product six days out of the week (closed on Sundays). Lincolnton is about a half hour down highway 150 from Shelby and Barbecue Bros fave Red Bridges Barbecue Lodge. In my book Bar-B-Q King is nearly as good, which longtime readers of the blog will know is high praise. Get yourself to Bar-B-Q King in Lincolnton.

Ratings:
Atmosphere – 4.5 hogs
Pork – 4.5 hogs
Sides – 4.5 hogs
Overall – 4.5 hogs
Bar-B-Q King Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Bar-B-Q King

Friday Find: North Koreans Try American Barbecue

From Digitalsoju TV, the same folks who brought you Korean Girls Try American Barbecue, is a nearly 20 minute video of North Koreans trying different styles of American barbecue in a South Korean joint that seemingly does a pretty good job of replicating authentic Southern barbecue. The 12 Bones guys even made the trip for the video, although their blueberry chipotle sauce tasted in the video isn’t a true representation of classic NC barbecue sauce.