Smoke BBQ – Mount Pleasant, SC

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Name
: Smoke BBQ
Date: 5/26/17
Address: 713 Coleman Blvd, Mt Pleasant, SC 29464
Order: The Tommy B. Monster Sampler Platter (pork, pastrami brisket, “Charleston brisket”, chicken) plus “perfect rib” and a beer (link to menu)
Price: $35

Monk: I hadn’t planned to visit a fifth barbecue spot during our vacation week but when I saw how close Smoke BBQ was to our Airbnb in Mount Pleasant I couldn’t resist sneaking away one afternoon to check it out. Unfortunately it turns out I shouldn’t have wasted my time or money.

Since I was there I went for it and got the Tommy B. Monster Sampler platter which comes with 4 meats. I then added a “perfect rib” to round it all out. When my platter of meats was delivered each meat was sitting in a pool of grease and appeared to have been reheated. Fresh off the smoker these definitely were not. I won’t bother to go through each meat individually – but I will say that after a bite or two of each one I decided to move on, finding each to be as equally bad as the previous.

The “smoke style slaw” is their take on coleslaw and comes with green apples and candied pecans topped on red cabbage and carrots. I didn’t find it to be a successful barbecue side. The baked macaroni and cheese was the best food part of the meal and was the only real edible item for me.

There was very little that was redeeming about my meal from Smoke BBQ and I ended up tossing most of the takeout container in the trash once I got home. At least I got to enjoy a beer on their nice covered patio. So there’s that.

Ratings:
Atmosphere – 3 hogs
Pork – 1 hog
Brisket – 1 hog
Pastrami – 1 hog
Rib – 1 hog
Chicken – 1 hog
Sides – 1.5 hogs
Overall – 1 hog

Photo Gallery: Midwood Smokehouse’s new Park Road location

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It had been about 4 weeks since the latest location of Midwood Smokehouse opened in Park Road Shopping Center’s now bustling Back Lot. That’s about the amount of time I like to give new restaurants to work out their kinks so between that and Father’s Day weekend it made for the perfect occasion to check it out.

On a Friday night it was predictably busy, and owner Frank Scibelli mentioned that for this location they had ordered the largest capacity Oyler smoker available (the same manufacturer they use at all of their other locations). They aren’t cooking to capacity yet but at this location it shouldn’t be too long before they are close.

I tried most of the smoked meats this night via the Chef’s Choice Platter (off menu). The pork, brisket, pork ribs, and burnt ends I had all tried before – but this was my first time experiencing the pork burnt ends. If I’m recalling correctly, they are a Friday night special only and they’ve always been out when I had previously tried to order them. Speaking of specials, Midwood Smokehouse is now offering a beef rib, though only on Saturdays and Sundays so I wasn’t able to try it this night.

While the Ballantyne and Columbia locations of Midwood Smokehouse do smoke a whole hog quartered in their Oyler rotisserie smokers on certain days, the Park Road location is getting a BQ whole hog smoker (the eastern North Carolina brand used by Sam Jones as well as The Pit) delivered in mid-July. I couldn’t be more excited for that to come and to try Pitmaster Matt Berry’s take on whole hog. I plan to visit shortly after and will report back. Until then, you can expect more of the same from the new location of Midwood Smokehouse, and that definitely ain’t a bad thing.

Monk

Linkdown: 6/21/17

– Rodney Scott surprisingly smoked ribs instead of whole hog at this year’s Big Apple

– The Washington Post’s Jim Shahin has a list of favorite barbecue books this season, and it includes Elliott Moss’s “Buxton Hall BBQ Book of Smoke”

– I couldn’t disagree more but Charlotte Agenda refers to Bubba’s Barbecue as a “hidden gem”

– Whole hog in the most unlikeliest of places? Gravy’s got the scoop

– NC barbecue in Virginia at Willard’s BBQ in Reston

– The Houston Chronicle has an article on barbecue camps, focusing on the one at Texas A&M but with a passing mention of a few in NC (though it mistakenly mentions that the NC State Barbecue Camp only started this year; this was its second year)

-The Smoking Ho has some nice barbecue photos from his quick trip to LA

– What else would you expect from an Alabaman?

Rodney Scott’s BBQ – Charleston, SC

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Name
: Rodney Scott’s BBQ
Date: 5/24/17
Address: 1011 King St, Charleston, SC 29403
Order: Whole hog plate with hush puppies and coleslaw (link to menu)
Price: $13.50

Monk: Coming into my vacation week in the Charleston area, I was just as excited for Rodney Scott’s BBQ as I was for Lewis Barbecue. I was fortunate enough to have visited Scott’s Bar-B-Que in tiny Hemingway, SC (pop. 573) a few years back taking the long way from Charleston back to NC. First trying Scott’s whole hog at a plastic table in that tiny convenience store was one of the top five or so best barbecue experiences in my life.

Thankfully, Rodney Scott has made it little more convenient to try his barbecue for those who can’t make the trek to Hemingway by opening up a store in Charleston earlier this year, adding to the city’s already booming barbecue scene.

Remembering that styrofoam tray back at Scott’s, I focused on the pork plate as I stepped up to the counter to order. In hindsight maybe I should have tried the ribs as well, but there’s always next time. In terms of setup, Rodney Scott’s is fast casual and covered in the same soothing light blue as the original which reminds me of a classic diner. It has booths on either side of the small-ish dining area with a raised community table at the center of the restaurant.

I’ll start by saying that the whole hog was very good. Still, I don’t think it quite lived up to how I remembered it from the original store. Perhaps it’s unfair to compare it to a memory of one of my favorite barbecue bites, but in any case it didn’t quite measure up. Both were tender and I favored the spicy table sauce in each instance. One difference between the two stores though: whereas the original has coarsely pulled strands of pork the Charleston location was coarsely chopped. But, like I said, it was still very good.

Keeping it traditional, I got hush puppies and white slaw on the side. The hush puppies in particular were very good, served with honey butter which I always like to see.

Like Lewis Barbecue, Rodney Scott’s BBQ falls victim to the Charleston effect when it comes to prices. A plate with two sides will run you almost $14 and that’s before a drink or beer. Some may quibble whether that’s worth it, but for whole hog of that quality in a town filled with tourists, that’s about what I’d expect.

For me, the whole hog of Rodney Scott’s BBQ doesn’t quite capture the magic of the original Hemingway location but there’s still a lot to like about the Charleston location.

Ratings:
Atmosphere – 3.5 hogs
Pork – 4 hogs
Sides – 4 hogs
Overall – 4 hogs

Friday Find: Pepsi’s City Tour eats NC barbecue

The Pepsi City Tour is a 3-episode web series, with NC barbecue kicking it all off. They visit B’s Barbecue in Greenville and Stamey’s Barbecue in Greensboro represents the west (or Lexington-style). The video has blatant product placement for Pepsi (duh) but does have some good soundbites from the proprietors of each joint. Check it out above.

In North Carolina you’re either an East Style BBQ or West Style BBQ lover. We asked masters from both sides of the state to show us what makes their hush puppies, pulled pork and slaw the very best.

Linkdown: 6/14/17

– The latest in the News & Observer Good Eatin’ series is a look at B’s Barbecue in Greenville

At some point in the late ’80s, the road on the side of the restaurant took on its name, but spelled “B’s Barbeque Road” with a “q.” To little surprise, the sign has gone missing several times. B’s Barbeque Road is the first left turn when coming into Greenville from the west on U.S. 264.

– City Barbeque opens its University location June 19 with a grand opening party on June 24

– The NC Blueberry Festival BBQ Cookoff, part of the Whole Hog Barbecue Series, is this weekend in Burgaw

– Bacon-wrapped bacon:

– Marie, Let’s Eat! finds some decent barbecue in Chattanooga in Big Jeff Barbeque

– Zagat’s and The Huffington Post has 12 pitmasters you need to know as part of their BBQ Nation microsite

– The Chicago Tribune is updating daily in June for 30 days of Chicago barbecue

– Robert Moss will be part of a hash panel in Greenwood, SC on July 7

The making of kettle-cooked hash is a culinary tradition unique to the Palmetto State, according to food and drink writer and culinary historian, Robert F. Moss.

“It’s something you can only get in South Carolina,” Moss said. “It’s one of the great barbecue stews. It’s sort of like a really delicious, thick, slow-simmered meat gravy.

“It really developed in South Carolina as part of fall hog-killing time, as a way to use up all the pieces and parts of the hog,” Moss added.

– SC is home to 4 different barbecue sauces: here’s recipes for each

– Happy belated Bojangles Day, you guys!

Lewis Barbecue – Charleston, SC

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Name: Lewis Barbecue
Date: 5/23/17
Address: 464 N Nassau St, Charleston, SC 29403
Order: ½ lb pork, 2 slices of brisket, 2 links Texas hot guts, corn pudding, potato salad (link to menu)
Price: $49 (for 2 adults and a toddler)

Monk: Back in December, when I had a week off from work between Christmas and New Year’s I contemplated taking a day trip to Charleston specifically for Lewis Barbecue. I had the plan set in my mind: drop off at daycare, drive the 3 hours to Charleston, hit up Lewis Barbecue (and maybe one or two others), and turn around and head right back just in time for dinner. Sadly, real life intervened and I just couldn’t make it happen. So to say this was my most anticipated barbecue visit of our vacation week in Charleston would be a slight understatement. Okay, maybe this and Rodney Scott’s BBQ were 1 and 1a, but still – anticipation was high.

Unlike Rudy, I hadn’t had the pleasure of trying La Barbecue in Austin back when John Lewis was the pitmaster and they were often mentioned in the same breath at the joint Lewis helped start, Franklin Barbecue. In fact, Rudy prefers La Barbecue over Franklin in his Austin rankings largely in part because the barbecue was of similar quality but the line was so much more manageable. That was back before John Lewis made the move to Charleston to open his own barbecue restaurant last summer, spreading his beef gospel to the pork-loving Carolinas.

To that end, the brisket at Lewis Barbecue was quite possibly the best I’ve had. One day I hope to spend more time in Texas but until that point this will be the standard bearer. Much as you would expect from a Texas joint, customers order by the pound and two slices weighed in at nearly ⅔ of a pound at $21/lb. Moist and peppery, each chunk of fatty beef melted in my mouth.

I’ve had sausage plenty of times but safe to say I haven’t had hot guts like John Lewis’s before. The beef had a nice kick and weren’t dry while the hog casing had a good snap to it. I don’t have a point of comparison, but in any case I loved everything about the hot guts.

I knew not to expect NC style pork (either eastern or Lexington) and the coarsely pork was definitely the least successful of the meats I tried that day. I didn’t regret ordering but next time I’ll try the ribs – either pork or the beef rib if I’m there on a Saturday – in lieu of the pulled pork.

Rudy: I have had La Barbecue as much or more than any other place here and I’ve had it both with John and without. Honestly, I can’t tell that much of a difference though I will say that I did not like the hot guts the 2 times I had them. I thought they had too much beef in them and seemed dry. I also thought the ribs were amazing, so you should definitely try them next time.

Monk: Duly noted, Rudy. When it comes to sides, neither Mrs. Monk nor I could get enough of the corn pudding. We definitely could have eaten another piece or two of that slightly sweet corn casserole. The potato salad was just fine.

Atmosphere-wise, Lewis Barbecue has knocked it out of the park. The inside is tastefully done with nods to Texas heritage. They have a bar that’s strategically positioned for folks in line to be able to grab a beer if the line is long enough. And they have a couple of outdoor spaces including a beer garden under a sprawling oak. Had we more time and slightly better weather, I could have easily spent a few hours in that beer garden drinking more Shiner.

Speaking of lines, Lewis Barbecue has made a commitment to cook enough meat to consistently stay open from 11am until 10pm six days per week (they are closed on Mondays). So while they may occasionally have long lines (they didn’t on this Tuesday for lunch), selling out of meat for the day and closing early isn’t something that’s likely to happen.

One thing I do have to acknowledge is the prices at Lewis. This is partly due to the Charleston effect (I noticed barbecue prices were 20-30% higher at each place I ate at that week) but that’s also due to how high beef prices have become.

Rudy: This would be my biggest complaint on the difference between Texas and North Carolina barbecue. If I go to lunch and get a barbecue sandwich, side, and drink, it will be in the $17-20 range. Brisket is so much more expensive than pulled pork. That is one of the reasons I have not eaten as much. The second is that it is so rich and fatty, I normally feel gross and have meat sweats even after a small portion.

Monk: Lewis Barbecue had top notch barbecue and a great space and was my favorite restaurant of the week, just barely edging out the place we tried the next day. More on that next week.

Ratings:
Atmosphere – 4.5 hogs
Pork – 3.5 hogs
Brisket – 4.5 hogs
Sausage – 5 hogs
Sides – 3.5 hogs
Overall – 4.5 hogs

Lewis Barbecue Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Linkdown: 6/7/17

– A great article by Keia Mastrianni in the June/July edition of The Local Palate; the print edition is out now

– The Raleigh News & Observer has a new series called “Good ‘Eatin” that takes a weekly visit to local eateries in North Carolina, and it will continue through Labor Day; this week it visits Pattan’s Downtown Grille in downtown Rockingham that has a franken-sauce of east, west, and SC but cooks over wood

– See if you can find Midwood Smokehouse in this cool Charlotte 8-bit art:

– Frank Scibelli – the restaurateur behind Midwood Smokehouse, Midwood Smokeshack, Yafo, and more – has been named a finalist for the EY Entrepreneur of the Year in the Southeast

– The Daily Reflector out of Greenville, NC has a profile on Parker’s Barbecue in Wilson

– Congrats to Mac’s for winning second in whole hog at this year’s Memphis in May; here’s the deets on the rig they smoked on

– 12 Bones and Buxton Hall Barbecue are on Kathleen Purvis’ list of things to do in Asheville

– TMBBQ on how Texas got a legit Texas barbecue joint

Some photos from last week’s Cape Fear BBQ Festival in Wilmington

– The story behind Texas Pete, the perfect hot sauce for NC barbecue

Hite’s BBQ – West Columbia, SC

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Name
: Hite’s BBQ
Date: 5/20/17
Address: 240 Dreher Rd, West Columbia, SC 29169
Order: Barbecue plate with hash and rice, slaw, and roll (link to menu)
Price: $8

Monk: Back in early 2015, John T. Edge’s article about Hite’s BBQ in Garden & Gun Magazine initially put the joint on my radar. Due to the fact that I don’t make it down to Columbia all that often plus the fact that Hite’s is only open Fridays and Saturdays meant that it would still be over 2+ years before I would be able to finally check it out. Not that I hadn’t tried before unsuccessfully, making the trek down the day before this past New Year’s Eve specifically to check out Hite’s only to find out they were closed. Hite’s is a family operation so I definitely couldn’t begrudge them for not being open before a holiday, but it meant that I would have to wait another 6 months before eventually checking them out.

Hite’s is a takeout only joint run out of a simple cinder block building but does have a few picnic tables overlooking a small lake on the property which apparently has 3 generations of Hite’s living on it.

The menu is very simple, with choice of sandwiches, plates or takeaway pounds of either whole hog, ribs, or chicken. The pork was a tad dry on this day and though mustard will never be my favorite style of barbecue sauce with pork it was still quite good.

Hash and rice comes standard with each plate and was my favorite part of the meal. Not that it’s quite as good as the hash a mile and a half down the road at True BBQ, but it’s still pretty dang good nonetheless.

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There was nothing special about the slaw, which I didn’t feel the need to finish. The rolls that came standard with each plate were fine but in the interest of saving my stomach from the carbs, I saved them for my daughter to have at the beach later that week.

After my meal, I snapped a few photos around the property, including the Hite St sign and the huge stacks of split logs behind the joint before current owner David Hite (grandson of original owner John D. Hite) was kind enough to invite me to check out the pit room. At that point, all of the hogs were off the pits so it was just chicken, so I quickly snapped a few shots when he revealed the pit. I spoke with him for just a few minutes about the family operation behind Hite’s and the requests he sometimes gets from various news outlets (which he isn’t always to accommodate due to the joint’s limited schedule). I certainly appreciated David taking some time to chat with me.

Hite’s BBQ wasn’t necessarily my favorite barbecue of the vacation week (more on that in the coming weeks) but I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it for folks passing through Columbia looking for a taste of true midlands SC-style barbecue.

For more reviews of Hite’s BBQ, check out:
Marie, Let’s Eat!

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