Name: Ed Mitchell’s Que
Address: 359 Blackwell St, Durham, NC 27701
Order: Chopped whole hog and brisket combo platter (off menu) with collards and fries (link to menu)
Speedy: I’ve previously declared my love for Raleigh’s The Pit, so I was pumped to hear Ed Mitchell return to the restaurant world with his new restaurant Que (Monk note: It should be noted that Ed Mitchell was gone by the time we visited The Pit in 2012; Speedy note: It should be double noted that I had previously eaten at the Pit when Ed Mitchell was still there – it was just pre-blog.). A work outing to a Durham Bulls game afforded me the opportunity to give it a try (the restaurant is right next to the stadium).
Monk: Also worth mentioning is that Ed Mitchell has a barbecue stall inside the Durham Bulls stadium as well, and I’ve heard on at least one occasion of Mitchell himself working the stall during a ballgame, although that was before Que opened.
Speedy: Walking in, the restaurant has a very modern feel. I didn’t venture too far in, as the bar is there to greet you right as you walk in. It definitely does not look like a stereotypical ‘cue joint, but the upside to that is the awesome beer and whiskey selection. I quickly bellied up to the bar, ordered a beer, and picked up a menu.
Monk: I’m already so in on this place…
Speedy: I knew I wanted to try both the whole hog and the brisket, but unfortunately, a combo plate isn’t on the menu. However, I didn’t even have to play the blog card (would that work???) to convince the bartender to let me order it.
Monk: I can see it now…”but, but, but…I have a barbecue blog and need a combo plate so I can properly review!”
Speedy: As is my custom, I asked if the slaw was mayo based and passed on it when I found out that it was, opting for collards and fries instead. The food came out quickly, and it turned out to be a considerable portion, so I dug in.
At this point, I need to make a confession: I like eastern style chopped pork as much as Lexington style.
Monk: This is honestly the first time I’ve heard you say anything about this. And frankly, I’m shocked. I like eastern a lot but it plays second fiddle to Lexington in my book. Although tasting Skylight Inn’s barbecue at Midwood Smokehouse last fall has me reconsidering. I can only imagine that Ed Mitchell’s might help the case for eastern as well.
Speedy: Ed Mitchell’s pork was nearly perfect. Chopped finely, with the awesome tang of a great vinegar sauce. The one inherent problem with whole hog is the lack of bark relative to Lexington style, and while I did notice that, it did not take away from my enjoyment. There were two dips provided on the table, but I didn’t touch either – there was just no need to.
Monk: And that’s exactly why I will almost always prefer Lexington – the amount of bark created by cooking shoulders, and the inherent smokiness and flavor that comes with it.
Speedy: Rudy is fond of saying the Texas barbecue joints use sauce to cover up bad brisket, so I was a little concerned when this brisket came out slathered in sauce. I don’t think that it was the case that the sauce was really needed, as the brisket had good tug and seemed plenty moist. It wasn’t the best brisket I’ve had, but it was still very good and I easily finished my entire plate.
The collards were very good. They tasted like good southern collards are supposed to and had little bits of bacon thrown in for good measure. The fries were also good, but I would’ve prefered to see fried okra on the menu. That’s getting pretty nitpicky, but I don’t have much else bad to say about the meal.
Overall, this was one of the top barbecue experiences I’ve had in a while. I really loved Ed Mitchell’s Que and can’t wait to go back.