Luella’s Barbecue – Asheville, NC

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Name
: Luella’s Bar-B-Que
Date: 6/26/16
Address: 501 Merrimon Ave, Asheville, NC 28804
Order: Chopped Plate with Fries, Slaw and Hushpuppies, Cheerwine (link to menu)

Speedy: A day after visiting Buxton Hall, I decided to have a treat yo’ self meal at another ‘cue joint, so I texted Monk to see where he thought I should go. He mentioned that he’d wanted to try Luella’s for a while, but hadn’t gotten around to it, so I undertook the task. Walking in, Luella’s has ample seating and a nice, long bar, as well as some outdoor seating. Overall, it seemed like a great place to have a meal.

The menu advertises the chopped pork BBQ as eastern style, so that was my order, along with fries, slaw, and hushpuppies. The food came out quickly and I dug in.

The pork was, simply, divine. It had great smoke flavor, lots of bark, and was cooked and chopped perfectly. I think it could have used a little more tang, but I’m definitely splitting hairs. When compared to Buxton Hall, this pork had more bark and smoke, but was just a little behind in terms of tenderness and tang. Knowing Monk, I think he’d disagree, but I’d have to give Luella’s a very slight edge. But you can’t go wrong either way.

The sides were also good. The vinegar based slaw was enjoyable, even if it didn’t quite stack up to the Lexington style barbecue slaw. And the hush puppies were no slouch either.

Monk:  Before Buxton Hall and even Etowah Smokehouse came along, Luella’s had been on my radar. So that’s great to hear that it worked out for you. I mean, 4 hogs? That’s high praise.

Speedy: Overall, I only had time for a quick meal at Luella’s, but I’ll definitely return. I hate that I didn’t get a chance to try any of the other meats, but this is definitely a place worth visiting.

(For another review of Luella’s Bar-B-Que, check out Marie, Let’s Eat!)

Ratings:
Atmosphere – 3.5 hogs
Pork – 4 hogs
Sides – 3 hogs
Overall – 4 hogs
Luella's Bar-B-Que Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Friday Find: AVL Food Fans Podcast with Pitmaster Elliot Moss

AVL Food Fans
Elliot Moss and his wife Jenifer joined the AVL Food Fans podcast for a roughly 30 minute discussion on how they met, how Buxton Hall came to be, and some of the issues they have faced when provided substandard hogs from a vendor. Very interesting stuff.

AVL Food Fans is your new favorite show about the amazing local Asheville food scene with food writer Stu Helm and Chef Joe Scully of Corner Kitchen and Chestnut.

Link to podcast (the interview starts around the 20 minute mark)

Monk

Linkdown: 7/20/16

– Stephen Colbert is once again poking the NC barbecue bear

“North Carolina, I love you,” Colbert said, “but I’m sorry that barbecue is not as good as South Carolina.”

– Plan accordingly:

– Grant of Marie, Let’s Eat! visits three Memphis-area barbecue joints: Payne’s Bar-B-Q, Jim Neely’s Interstate Bar-B-Q, and Top’s Bar-B-Q

– Charlotte Five weighs in on 5 joints for good barbecue in Lexington, including Lexington Barbecue, The Barbecue Center, Smiley’s, and Speedy’s

– More Charlotte Five content: Mac’s Speed Shop is on this list of 4 meat-focused eateries with great vegetarian options for diner

– UberEats will be delivering Pecan Lodge to Dallas residents today from 11-2 via drones

– The Pik-N-Pig is a NC barbecue joint located at an airport near Carthage

Q2U BBQ Pit and Catering – Lake Wylie, SC

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Name
: Q2U BBQ Pit and Catering
Date: 7/8/16
Address: 4052 Charlotte Hwy, Lake Wylie, South Carolina 29710
Order: Pork sandwich lunch combo with cole slaw (link to menu)
Price: $8.47

Monk: Q2U BBQ Pit and Catering is not that far away from Charlotte – just over the SC border – but I’ve always had a mental block about going to it because it’s at least a 35-40 minute trip to get out to it from just about anywhere in Charlotte I would normally be. It’s been recommended by readers for a couple of years now so I decided to bite the bullet and finally make the trek.

Honestly, I wasn’t expecting much. Not because it was in a non-descript strip mall or that it wasn’t particularly crowded (though it should be said that the lunch crowd did pick up by the time I left), but sometimes you just expect to be letdown. While it was the lunch hour on a Friday and I wasn’t partaking, it was encouraging to see that they keep a good-sized draft list with a decent amount of local beer options. The walls were adorned with lots of vintage Hornets and Panthers memorabilia so I had no complaints about the decor.

Lunch service was very quick and within a few minutes of placing my order, I had my plate of food. While the sandwich may have been scooped from a tray of already chopped pork, it  wasn’t overly dry or grainy. And I got a nice hint of smoke in the meat. I did add some of their vinegar table sauce, but I wouldn’t go as far as to say it was necessary or needed.

Each combo comes with a couple of hush puppies, and they were fantastic. The mayo slaw was fine but I really wish I had ordered hush puppies as my side to get a couple more.

Overall, a very solid sandwich from Q2U BBQ and Catering and definitely the best barbecue I’ve had just across the border in the Charlotte metro area. I don’t know that I will find myself in the Lake Wylie area very often but if I do, I will steer my group towards it to try some more of their meat offerings.

Ratings:
Atmosphere – 3 hogs
Pork – 3 hogs
Sides – 3 hogs
Overall – 3 hogs
Q2U BBQ Pit Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Photo Gallery: More Photos from Buxton Hall Barbecue

After our meal at Buxton Hall on Father’s Day, I was able to meet up with Pitmaster Elliot Moss at nearby Burial Brewing. After chatting a bit over a beer, he was gracious enough to take me and the Monk clan on a short tour of the kitchen and offices. Here’s those photos.

Monk

Linkdown: 7/13/16

– When two NC originals collide: Cheerwine and Krispy Kreme collaborate on a new soda

– ICYMI:

– Re: the greatness of Georgia barbecue, Paul’s BBQ in Lexington has closed

– Grant visits Captain John’s Hot Pit Bar-B-Q, which is just a “Memphis average” joint

– Seoul Food Meat Co is expanding into the other side of its current building

– How to make Texas-style potato salad, a “classic ‘cue side”

– Destination’s latest post in their SC BBQ Road Trip travels I-77

 

Buxton Hall Barbecue – Asheville, NC (Monk’s take)

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Name
: Buxton Hall Barbecue
Date: 6/18/16
Address: 32 Banks Ave, Asheville, NC 28801
Order: Pulled whole hog barbecue plate with hush puppies appetizer and sides of chicken bog, waffle-cut fries; Cheerwine (link to menu)
Price: $23

Monk: I’ve been following Pitmaster Elliot Moss’s pursuit to open a whole hog barbecue joint for what seems like most of the life of this blog (4+ years). What was initially announced as Buxton Hill Barbecue with one business partner later turned into a venture with another called Buxton Hall Barbecue. As I understand it, throughout the journey bringing whole hog barbecue to Asheville remained the focus, and it finally opened in Asheville’s booming South Slope neighborhood (literally heading south downhill from downtown) last August.

Buxton Hall took over part of an old building that used to house a skating rink and its immediate neighbors include Catawba Brewing and Vortex Doughnuts. The interior maintains some of the character from the skating rink (like some of the old paintings on the wall) while adding modern craftsman touches (Edison bulb fixtures, subway tiling, etc). An open air kitchen contains two BQ smokers and wood smoke wafts into the dining area when logs are added to the in-kitchen firebox to create coals to place into the smoker. In short, it’s exactly the type of barbecue place that I would try to open if I were able to.

The whole hog barbecue is a just about perfect recreation of eastern NC/SC pulled pork (Moss himself is originally from the Florence, SC area). Tender strands of moist pork with a little hint of wood smoke and spice – just fantastic. While I didn’t order it on this visit, I’m still curious about barbecue hash (a nod to his SC roots) and would likely try that next time in addition to the pork. In any case, everyone should order the pork at the very least.

Chicken bog is not a barbecue dish I am familiar with and thus, had to try it as one of my two sides. It’s essentially a rice dish with chicken, sausage, and veggies topped with dashes of Texas Pete. I have no comparison, but I thought it was a very successful side and loved every bite of it. The plate came with a small ramekin of a vinegar-based coleslaw, so instead of doubling up I got waffle-cut fries in case the Monkette wanted some. They are almost exactly like Chic-Fil-A fries in all of the best ways. Plus, Buxton Hall made a smart decision to include barbecue-perfect drink options like RC Cola, Diet Rite, Cheerwine, and Sun Drop. Naturally, I opted for Cheerwine.

Speedy: I just want to jump in here, as I visited Buxton Hall just short of a week after Monk did with my bro (same parents variety, not barbecue variety). This was my second visit (the first being shortly after it opened), and I once again had a great meal. I think Monk is spot on in his description of the pork – it’s excellent – but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the collards are flat out phenomenal. A can’t-miss side, in my opinion. I also like that Elliott puts different specials on the menu to keep things fresh – when I was in, it was a pulled rib meat sandwich, which I didn’t try, but sounded intriguing. Anyway, carry on, Monk…

Monk: Oh hey there, Speedy – thanks for the input. After our meal, we had moved on to Burial Brewing around the corner but as it so happens ran into Moss where him and I were able to talk all things Asheville and barbecue over a beer. He was then nice enough to take us back to the restaurant to give us a quick tour of the kitchen (something he’ll do for anyone who asks, I believe). Elliot is a super nice guy and though I was initially hesitant to approach him (for my own shy reasons), I’m glad it worked out. He even sent us away with a piece of delicious fresh peach pie which while did not influence the ultimate rating, it certainly did not hurt.

At Buxton Hall Barbecue, Pitmaster Elliot Moss is part of the new breed of pitmasters (along with Tyson Ho at Arrogant Swine, Bryan Furman at B’s Barbecue, Sam Jones at his new Sam Jones BBQ, among others) who are opting for smoking barbecue in more traditional ways that take a lot of time and effort. That means all night smokes 6 out of 7 nights of the week (Moss himself doing it a couple nights each week). More often than not, the time and effort is worth it and in the case of Buxton Hall it definitely is. In the tl;dr version of this review, it would simply read: “Just go there.”

Ratings:
Atmosphere – 4 hogs
Pork – 4.5 hogs
Sides – 4 hogs
Overall – 4.5 hogs
Buxton Hall Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Buxton Hall Barbecue

Friday Find: Munchies BBQ Road Trip: Tennessee

From last November, a 19 minute short film from Munchies on Tennessee barbecue.

In the second leg of our BBQ Road Trip – brought to you by Jack Daniel’s – host Tom Wright travels across the Atlantic to Tennessee, the heartland of barbecue. Tom gluts himself in the impressive barbecue joints littered between Nashville and Memphis, and along the way, learns that the finest food often comes out of the most unexpected places. Meeting some good ol’ boys and gals, Tom marinates in a world of cooking techniques, dying artistry, and secret recipes.

-Monk

Linkdown: 7/6/16

– After their campaign stop Tuesday afternoon, Obama and Hillary stopped by Midwood for pork and brisket (Obama) and chicken and ribs (Hillary)

– Village Voice takes you behind the scenes with the pitmasters the night before the Big Apple Barbecue Block Party

– Scott’s BBQ is closed this week, returning a week from today

– For the home smoker, an Epicurious writer says he’s over lump hardwood charcoal because “it’s expensive, burns too hot, and doesn’t last long enough”

– Monroe, NC gets its first craft beer bar, and it also serves barbecue – Southern Range Craft Beer & BBQ

– Food Republic has the lowdown on barbecue hash, with help from Elliot Moss among others

– Time has listicles of 8 Incredible BBQ Spots in Texas (with help from Daniel Vaughn of TMBBQ) as well as 8 Best BBQ Spots in the Carolinas (with help from Rien Fertel)

– Business Insider teams with Foursquare for their list of top 50 barbecue joints ranked

– Southern Living barbecue editor Robert Moss has released an updated 2016 list of the best barbecue joints in the south

Green River Bar-B-Q – Saluda, NC

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Name
: Green River Bar-B-Q
Date: 6/18/16
Address: 131 US-176, Saluda, NC 28773
Order: Pulled pork and brisket combo plate with collards, bbq slaw, and Green Man IPA (link to menu)
Price: $20

Monk: On the trip from Asheville to Charlotte, the place to stop for barbecue is Red Bridges Barbecue Lodge in Shelby, one of mine and Speedy’s favorite places ever (the readers of Garden and Gun Magazine and Thrillist also  agree). While I certainly would never get sick of stopping there, in the interest of expanding my barbecue horizons I pinpointed a wood smoking joint in Saluda, NC not far off the I-26 on my latest trip. Side note: Mrs. Monk is a G-D saint for going along with a quick barbecue and brewery tour this past Father’s Day, and I am a lucky, lucky man.

First off, downtown Saluda is a charming mountain town on the banks of the Green River near the NC/SC border and though we didn’t get to spend any time walking around it looked quite lovely. Green River Bar-B-Q is just outside of the main strip not a half mile away. On a beautiful late spring day in the mountains, you could do worse than spending some time on their patio.

There is an off-menu pork and brisket combo plate (the one on the menu says pork and chicken I believe) for $14.99 and that’s what I went with. We were seated right behind parties of 6 and 10 but thankfully the wait to get our food wasn’t too too bad. I will say that our server was great and had an unmistakable laugh that came out a few times during our lunch. So a pleasant day in the mountains drinking a local beer on the patio with good service – can’t get too much better than that. Then the food came out.

While both the pork and brisket had a whiff of wood smoke to them, they were both dry to the point that I didn’t finish them. When it came to the pork, I tried out the table sauces and none really helped all that much. The brisket was bland, dry, and beyond saving.

The bbq slaw was passable, but Mrs. Monk didn’t think the collards had been stewed long enough (they were edible but I agree with her). There was nothing special about the hushpuppies either.

While it has a lovely location and setting to it, I just can’t recommend going out of your way for Green River Barbeque.

Ratings:
Atmosphere – 3 hogs
Pork – 2 hogs
Brisket – 1 hog
Sides – 2 hogs
Overall – 2 hogs
Green River Barbeque Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato