Name: Big Bob Gibson’s Bar-B-Q
Location: 1507 W. Roosevelt Road, Monroe, NC 28110
Order: Pulled Pork and brisket combo plate with vinegar slaw and fries, sweet tea (link to menu, although this isn’t the menu at the NC location)
From what I can tell, Big Bob Gibson’s is a pretty well-respected Alabama barbecue restaurant that has been operating in Decatur, Alabama since 1925. For the past few years, they have gained exposure through their current pitmaster Chris Lilly, who has appeared on “BBQ Pitmasters” numberous times and has also written a book. In addition to their two restaurants in Decatur, naturally they chose the site for their third restaurant to be in Monroe, North Carolina…wait, what?
That’s right, for reasons unknown their third and currently only other location is in a small town outside Charlotte some 465 miles away. I haven’t had good luck with Alabama barbecue lately, but I figured I’d give it a try anyways.
This Big Bob Gibson’s is in a standalone building off Highway 74 in Monroe, and really reads more “upscale southern grill” than “barbecue joint.” The interior is actually quite nice, with a bar off to the left as you walk in and the main dining area to the right. I was definitely surprised by how nice it was.
I got there before any lunch rush so after I was promptly seated and after a minute to review the menu I decided on the combo plate of both pulled pork and brisket. The choice of sides included both a mayo slaw and a vinegar slaw, so naturally I ordered vinegar as well as fries to round out the order. Thankfully, a couple of hush puppies are also included with each platter.
After only about 5 minutes I received a large plate of food. The pulled pork was not very smoky and also quite dry, so I needed the “Championship Red Sauce” that comes on the table but was also served in a warmed ramekin with the meal. It is a thicker, tangy/sweet sauce that is closer to Kraft BBQ Sauce than dip – not for me. As for the brisket, I was expecting slices but it came chopped; I do not believe this was not stated on the menu. And it more or less tasted like chopped beef roast, which is fine unless of course you want brisket. The two hush puppies came out still hot and were large spheres of cornmeal that were ok but didn’t have the sweetness I like to taste in my hush puppies. The vinegar slaw was interesting in that it wasn’t the barbecue slaw that we are used to in the piedmont. It did have the tang expected of a vinegar-based slaw but was also sweet, likely to do the addition of quite a bit of sugar. It was different but gave a nice cold crunch to the meal.
So dawg, for me for you, Big Bob Gibson’s was a little bit of a bust. They also serve barbecue chicken (with that curious white sauce) and turkey, but despite the warm and friendly service I received I probably won’t be making it back to try those out. Sorry Alabama, I’m just still not impressed with your barbecue.
Atmosphere/ambiance – 3.5 hogs
Pork – 2 hogs
Brisket – 2 hogs
Sides – 2.5 hogs
Overall – 2.5 hogs