Name: Ed Mitchell’s Que
Address: 359 Blackwell St, Durham, NC 27701
Order: Speedy: Carolina Baby Back Ribs platter with fries, collards, and Pork Slap Farmhouse Ale; Monk: Chopped whole hog BBQ platter with collards, mac and cheese, and Mother Earth Weeping Willow (link to menu)
Monk: Ever since Speedy checked out Ed Mitchell’s Que back in May, I’ve been looking for excuses to make it to Durham myself. Our annual trip to the Hopscotch Music Festival afforded a great opportunity to do exactly that on our way into Raleigh (you may recall we had previously checked out Allen & Son, The Pit Raleigh, and Hursey’s during Hopscotches past).
Speedy: As this was my second trip, I knew what to expect when walking in, but I did get a pleasant surprise when the man Ed Mitchell himself was sitting at the bar. Honestly, I was a bit awe struck, so Monk and I let the man be for a bit while we got down to business.
Monk: I knew that I had to try the whole hog barbecue, Ed Mitchell’s speciality, so that was a no brainer. In his lone wolf review of Que, Speedy let it slip out that he actually likes eastern style just as much as Lexington style. At the time I found it to be a little blasphemous, but tasting Ed Mitchell’s whole hog barbecue has definitely changed my thinking that much more. It was perfectly moist and had just a hint of spiciness. Not a ton of bark, which is to be expected in whole hog barbecue, but the pork was really smoked to perfection.
Speedy: I can’t say much about the whole hog that I didn’t say before except to say that it was just as good this time around. Consistency can be difficult to achieve in the barbecue world, but with a pro like Ed Mitchell, it was a non-issue.
Monk: I think the takeaway here is that when you have a master working his craft – be it at Wayne Monk at Lexington Barbecue, Rodney Scott at Scott’s Bar-B-Que, Aaron Franklin at Franklin Barbecue or John Lewis at la Barbecue – regional styles shouldn’t get in the way. Just sit back and enjoy the deliciousness – and I certainly did on this trip.
Speedy: I didn’t have the ribs last time I was at Que and noticed they’ve since been renamed “Throwdown ribs” to pay homage to Ed Mitchell’s smack down of Bobby Flay. The ribs came out with a light glaze of sweet western style sauce and were seriously meaty. They were cooked too well – tender enough to come off the bone easily, but not so tender that you can’t get a good bite. The flavor was quite good. If I had one complaint, it’s that the western style sauce is slightly sweet for my taste, but it didn’t stop my from cleaning off my share of bones.
Monk: Speedy and I went splitsies with our meals since they don’t do combo plates, and these were the largest baby back ribs I’d ever seen at a restaurant. And as Speedy said, they were quite tender. The sides were scratch made in house and I didn’t taste anything wrong with either my collards or my mac and cheese. The collards were fresh and perfectly cooked while the mac and cheese was great. At this point, I haven’t tasted anything wrong with Ed Mitchell’s Que.
Speedy: I agree, Monk. Sometimes, as a world-renowned blogger (we are that, aren’t we?), I feel the need to find something negative to say about any place that I eat, but when treated to an amazing meal, sometimes its best to just sit back and enjoy it.
Monk: On his first visit, Speedy initially toyed with a 5 hog rating before eventually backing off to a 4.5 hog rating. We were having a very similar conversation as we wrapped up our meal this time around too. As we got our check, Ed Mitchell himself came around to check to see how things were and to make sure we enjoyed our food. Naturally, we took the opportunity to snap a quick photo with the legend (posing with his portrait and “The Pitmaster” from the back wall in the background at his insistence). And I must say, Ed was extremely gracious and kind, thanking us for coming in. In the car, Speedy and I discussed more and decided that Ed himself was reason enough to go with a 5 hog rating. Because if that kind of hospitality from the owner and pitmaster (in addition to his amazing food) isn’t reason enough to up the overall rating, I don’t know what is.