Name: Buxton Hall Barbecue
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)
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.”