South Main Street BBQ – Waxhaw, NC

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Name
: South Main Street BBQ
Date: 8/8/18
Address: 116 E South Main St, Waxhaw, NC 28173
Order: Chopped pork sandwich with slaw, chips, and Cheerwine (link to menu)
Price: $9

Monk: On an excursion to Frontier Meats just south of Waxhaw to research potential meats for future smokes, I stopped by South Main Street BBQ, a self-proclaimed “Tex-Lex” barbecue restaurant in charming downtown Waxhaw located in the former JB’s Lazy Pig BBQ location. Owner John Crane, who also runs the Killer Q food truck, purchased the business in September 2017 and relaunched it as South Main Street BBQ this past April since it was, you know, located off of South Main Street.

When I tried Killer Q in September 2015, I was a fan of the smokiness in the meat and noted how they had just acquired a BQ stick burner (the kind that Sam Jones uses). I’m not sure if they are using that smoker here but unfortunately, I did not taste that same smokiness in their storefront. While the large sandwich had good texture between the pulled pork and the slaw, when I pulled strands of pork out I just didn’t get a lot of smokiness.

Speaking of slaw, what is normally added for free will cost you an extra $1 here. Obviously, it’s just a dollar, but on a $7 sandwich it seems a bit excessive. Another gripe – the lunch combo came with a bag of Lays where I would have preferred cornbread (that’ll cost you another $2 extra).

South Main Street BBQ does offer brisket (i.e. the “Tex” in the “Tex-Lex”), but only on Saturdays. I’ll have to try that if I make it back to Waxhaw either for Frontier Meats or to check out The Dreamchaser’s Brewery across the railroad tracks downtown. Perhaps if I do, the pulled pork will be a little smokier.

Ratings:
Atmosphere/Ambiance – 2 hogs
Pork – 2.5 hogs
Sides – N/A
Overall – 2.5 hogs

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Friday Find: Howard Conyers and Rodney Scott Talk Sauce on Episode 3 of “Nourish”

Episode 3 of Howard Conyer’s PBS Digital Series “Nourish” focuses on barbecue sauces with James Beard-award winning Rodney Scott.

Did you know your BBQ Sauce preference says a lot about where you come from? If you call a place like South Carolina home, your taste in sauce can be a clue to your hometown. BBQ expert and award-winning Chef Rodney Scott helps break down the regions and flavors in this episode.

Linkdown: 8/8/18

– Sadly, the NC Historic Barbecue Trail joint Jack Cobb BBQ and Son in Farmville is closing on August 18

– All aboard the barbecue train!

Fans can hop on the BBQ express for less than $100 a person and travel through spectacular mountain views. Passengers onboard will get their own basket of Southern-style barbeque goodness with hand-pulled pork slider, a couple pork ribs, and chicken drumstick accompanied by baked beans and house-made coleslaw.

And, of course, no respectable Southern barbeque would forget to warm up some apple cobbler for dessert.

– Both Speedy and Monk are quoted throughout this article from Million Mile Secrets on Best BBQ in USA: 25 Joints You Can’t Miss

– James Beard-award winning writer Adrian Miller is writing a book on black-owned barbecue joints and has started his research

– You can walk in or fly in to Stanton’s Barbeque in Bennettsville, SC near the NC/SC border

– A short review of Prosser’s Bar-B-Que, a restaurant with a barbecue and seafood buffet in Murrells Inlet (near Myrtle Beach)

– Mighty Quinn’s, who has expanded to 15 locations across the world, has launched a franchising program in aims of becoming the “Chipotle of barbecue”

– Good to know if you are making this drive:

– Aka “the dream”

– Speaking of Texas barbecue, if actor Ike Barinholtz didn’t know about Barbecue Twitter before, he sure does now (click on tweet to read the literally hundreds of replies)

Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint – Nashville, TN

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Name
: Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint (Downtown location)
Date: 7/21/18
Address: 410 4th Avenue South, Nashville, TN 37201
Order: Big Poppa Sampler (Full Rack Ribs, 12oz Pork, 12oz Brisket, ½ Chicken, mac and cheese, green beans, fries) with 6 Memphis dry rub wings, 2 orders of hush puppies, and 2 cornbread hoe cakes (link to menu)
Price: $141 (for 6)

Speedy: With Monk coming to town, I had to take him to my favorite ‘cue in town – Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint. I had reviewed the OG location of Martin’s many years ago, but since then, three other Tennessee locations (as well as two Kentucky ones) have opened. While I greatly enjoy the food, I took Monk (and crew) to the downtown location, which is one of my favorite places in Nashville – barbecue or otherwise.

Monk: The downtown location of Martin’s is amazing – flat out. As soon as we stepped up into the upstairs beer garden, I knew it was going to get 5 hogs for atmosphere and ambiance. The upstairs was an airy, open air space with plenty of natural lighting and big ass fans to keep the air circulating. Besides the smokeroom off to the side, it had a small stage, two small bars flanking either side of the room, several long beer garden-style tables, ping pong, shufflepuck, and dartboards. If we ever hit it big from barbecue blogging, I will be taking photos of this space to an architect to replicate at the loft I would buy once I’m flush with all that theoretical barbecue blogging cashish.

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Speedy: With six of us in tow, we ordered the Big Poppa Platter, which consists of a full rack of ribs, 12 oz pork, 12 oz brisket, ½ chicken, and 3 pints of sides. We tacked on a few extra sides and a half dozen wings and we were good to go.

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I’ll start with the ribs. We ordered spare ribs instead of baby backs since they are bigger and we had six hungry men. The rack of ribs was massive – plenty for us all to eat. We ordered dry ribs, and they showed up heavily seasoned as a full slab. The ribs were tender, cooked perfectly, and delicious. I do wish we had ordered baby back ribs, as the quality of the meat is better. On the spare ribs, there was a big more tendon than I like, but that’s a nit-picky complaint. Overall, I could have used a little more spice in the rub, but the ribs are very, very solid.

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Monk: Martin’s is one of the few restaurants in Tennessee (or anywhere else, for that matter) that is still doing whole hog barbecue. With the purchasing power of a growing regional chain, I imagine they are able to make the economics work, but regardless I applaud them for continuing the whole hog tradition. As for the pork itself, our portion was a mixture of pork that was overall lighter than the darker meat of the shoulders predominantly used in the NC piedmont (though shoulders are also available on the menu). I’m not quite sure what the nuances are between western TN whole hog and what you’ll find in eastern NC or the Pee Dee region of SC (a topic which I’ll gladly earmark for more research later), but I quite enjoyed what Martin’s served.

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Speedy: The brisket is about as good as you can find in Tennessee. It had good bark and was cooked pretty well (maybe ever so slightly overcooked), but it is not on the same level as some of the Texas joints. Martin’s brisket does have nice tug and flavor, and has good bark, but it just doesn’t quite have the peppery goodness needed to reach the upper brisket tier. However, if I’m hankerin’ for a good brisket in Tennessee, Martin’s is the best choice there is. As a side note, while not sampled on this visit, Martin’s does offer a cheeseburger topped with brisket that simply is not to be missed. Beef on beef – brilliant!

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Monk: We don’t normally order chicken but seeing as how it came with the Big Poppa, we embraced it. Smoked chicken is not my jam but it definitely worked when dipped in the Alabama white sauce that came with the tray.

Speedy: The wings were good – using the same dry rub as the ribs (other flavors are available, but we went with the dry rub). They were smoked well, but could have stood to be a little meatier. Like everything at Martin’s, the wings were very good. Smoked wings can be a little difficult to find, so I appreciate a place that does them right, and Martin’s is that.

Monk: There were literally no complaints about any of the sides we got. Some of our group raved about the mac and cheese, others loved the green beans, and I thought the hush puppies were solidly above average. But I was most intrigued by the cornbread hoe cakes, an item I’ve not ever seen on a barbecue menu before. In western NC, our cornmeal comes in the form of hush puppies whereas in the east you’ll see cornsticks or more traditional cornbread. The hoecakes were savory and not overly sweet  but I would definitely get them again – I know Speedy gets them most times he visits. Oh, and they have Cheerwine and Sun Drop in glass bottles! So awesome.

With Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint in Downtown Nashville, all of the meats are consistently above average, the sides were great, and the space was awesome. One more thought on the space – after we finished our meal, our group stuck around for another hour or so, grabbing another pitcher while playing darts. I would have gladly stuck around for several more hours, but alas we were headed to Third Man Records before throwing axes in East Nashville (side note – Speedy showed the guys a great time that weekend in Nashville). I can see why Martin’s is Speedy’s favorite joint in the city and I would gladly go back for another meal at this or any of the other locations.

Ratings:
Atmosphere/Ambiance – 5 hogs
Pork – 4 hogs
Brisket – 4 hogs
Ribs – 4 hogs
Chicken – 3.5 hogs
Wings – 4.5 hogs
Sides – 4.5 hogs
Overall – 4.5 hogs

Friday Find: The ‘Vous Trailer

This was forwarded to me by Captain Bob of the Cotton Pickin’ Porkers, whose brother-in-law is working on this documentary. This trailer gives a taste of what the documentary will be, and I can only imagine the stories that the joint has seen. To be released sometime in 2019.

“The ‘Vous” is a feature length documentary about the world famous barbecue restaurant The Rendezvous as a microcosm for Memphis and the South from the 1940s to today. In addition to memories and celebrity stories from the larger than life waiters of “the ‘Vous,” the film explores the culture, politics, music, and societal struggles that embody Memphis’ rich history.
**To Be Served in 2019**

Linkdown: 8/1/18

– House of Swank in Raleigh designed an iconic NC barbecue t-shirt but has recently learned that the design has been ripped off by Tervis tumblers that are being sold at some Bed, Bath, and Beyonds

– Has Lockhart lost some of its luster?

– Savor Virginia has a Richmond barbecue tour

– No, of course Franklin Barbecue is not closing

– Aaron Franklin does, however, have a new cookbook in the works that isn’t about barbecue but is sticking with beef

– The Y’All Sauce Co. out of Winston-Salem is a new line of barbecue sauces inspired by Tennessee, Kentucky, and Mississippi; sauces from North Carolina, South Carolina, and Louisiana are in development

– Steve Raichlen remembers Jonathan Gold

– What are your thoughts on the term “pitmaster?”

– Nice find by Twitter user @MatthewTessnear

Sweet P’s Barbeque & Soul House – Knoxville, TN

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Name
: Sweet P’s Barbeque & Soul House
Date: 7/19/18
Address: 3725 Maryville Pike, Knoxville, TN 37920
Order: Sampler (brisket, pork, and ribs) with side salad, slaw, greens and beer (link to menu)
Price: $29

Monk: In 1999, the Knoxville, TN funk-soul band Gran Torino had a modest regional radio hit in the southeast with “Moments with You.” I recall liking it in high school but listening today, it seems a bit overproduced and saccharine. In any case, fast forward 10 years and the band is no more but lead singer Chris Ford has found another passion in barbecue. After years of catering, he opens up a barbecue restaurant just outside of Knoxville in a former marina off the Little River, Sweet P’s Barbeque & Soul House. Six years later, he is successful enough to open a second location in downtown Knoxville. While the music life may have not ultimately worked out for Chris Ford, he seems to be in the early stages of building a mini barbecue empire in Knoxville.

I knew that Grant of Marie, Let’s Eat! was a fan of Sweet P’s from his visit and it was his suggestion to stop there two years back when I was last passing through Knoxville on the the way to Lexington, Kentucky. Unfortunately, it would have been too much of a detour on that trip, so I stopped at Full Service BBQ instead (which worked out ok). This time through, I was heading to Nashville, so a swing through south Knoxville to hit Sweet P’s made much more sense.

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I had been on the road for 4+ hours from Charlotte after a small breakfast so went for the sampler platter of pork, brisket, and ribs which came with 3 sides. Grant mentioned in his review that he was a big fan of the pork (the only meat he got on his visit) when he went and for me it was by far the best of the three meats. The pork came unsauced and sitting in a bun but I opted not to eat as a sandwich and instead used a fork. It was smokey and moist and with a few dashes of the table vinegar sauce (one of three available), it stood out above the rest of the meats.

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The brisket was a bit overdone (or perhaps held and reheated from the previous day based on the texture) and sprinkled with a sweet and savory rub that just was not pleasing for me. A few bites in and I knew I didn’t have to finish my portion.

The ¼ rack of ribs were better than the brisket while still being just slightly above average. It was also sprinkled with the same rub as the brisket, though this harkened to more of a Memphis dry rub so didn’t bother me as much as the brisket. They weren’t overdone and pulled away from the bone properly with each bite.

As for sides, the slaw was standard but the greens were a bit of a mess. Knowing what lay ahead in terms of drinking and eating that weekend, I chose a side salad as my third side, which ended up being the side that I ate the most of.

Outside of the pork and side salad most of the meal ended up in the to-go box. If you are stopping at Sweet P’s Barbeque & Soul House while in the Knoxville area, my suggestion would be to save some money and stick with the chopped pork plate.

Ratings:
Atmosphere/Ambiance – 3 hogs
Pork – 3 hogs
Brisket – 2 hogs
Ribs – 2.5 hogs
Sides – 2 hogs
Overall – 2.5 hogs
Sweet P's Barbeque and Soul House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

Friday Find: Tim Carman Drops By The Winnow Podcast to Give Tips on Ranking Barbecue

Robert Moss is in the middle of compiling and ranking a list of his Top 50 Southern BBQ Joints for Southern Living magazine and in the first half of this podcast episode, he gets tips from Washington Post food writer on a couple of questions he is working through: 1) How do you handle a situation like Scott’s Bar-B-Que in Hemingway and Rodney Scott’s BBQ in Charleston? and 2) Do you judge a restaurant based on the whole experience, just the meats, or everything on the plate? And what about dessert?

Moss also tells Tim and co-host Hanna Raskin why he is ranking the top 10 restaurants in this year’s version of the list.

Click the link in the tweet above or access it here

Linkdown: 7/25/18

– The food writing world lost a titan last week. RIP Jonathan Gold.

– Rudy Cobb of the famed Jack Cobb BBQ and Son in Farmville is retiring next month and closing the restaurant

– Food and Wine has a list of best barbecue joints in each state (plus a few runner-ups)

– Art’s BBQ and Deli and Bar-B-Q King are on this list of classic Charlotte restaurants you must try

– The #1 barbecue sauce on Amazon is based out of Charlotte, and they are making a hot version of it

– The NC BBQ Society website has been redesigned

– Barbecue is a sport

– A Brooklyn man with Greenville, NC connections is selling eastern Carolina-influenced ribs and chicken at the corner of Albany Avenue and Pacific Street in Crown Heights

– The last remaining smokehouse (for smoked hams) in Smithfield, VA has closed

– An oldie but goodie

Monk Participates at a Barbecue Roundtable at the 2018 NC State BBQ Camp

Monk: A few months back, I was fortunate enough to be invited to participate on a barbecue roundtable at the NC State BBQ Camp by Dana Snow, professor of Food Science at NC State. Considering I am both a NC State grad and a barbecue aficionado, I could think of no greater honor and accepted immediately.

The camp itself was early last month, and on day 2 I arrived shortly before the roundtable during a break in the camp. And to my surprise, they had beer! It had been at least 15 years since I had drank a beer on campus at State (not counting football games of course), so I was in a great frame of mind ahead of the roundtable discussion underneath the big tent.

The roundtable was moderated by the great Bob Garner and joining me on the panel was Joe Beasley of Haywood Smokehouse in the Asheville/Waynesville area as well as Tripp Hursey, the great grandson of the Hursey family that runs the Hursey’s Bar-B-Que restaurants in Alamance Count. While those guys could provide the perspective of owning and running a barbecue restaurant, I was on there to give a different perspective as a barbecue blogger.

Bob kicked off the panel by prompting each of the panelists question or two about our experiences before opening it up to the campers. I recounted the story of how Speedy, Rudy, and I got the idea for the blog in 2012 and also told stories of how Mrs. Monk puts up with my barbecue obsession. I may look a bit pensive and anxious in the photos that Mrs. Monk captured from the discussion, but once I got going I felt more and more comfortable (the couple of beers also helped). Unfortunately, after about 40 minutes a downpour came and made it extremely hard to hear any discussion under the tent so Bob made the executive decision to call it in favor of a happy hour before the pig pickin’. More beer!

And to my surprise, the two beers on tap were both beers made on campus. And a sour at that! Predictably, the sour was not for everyone and most campers went for the Wolfpack Pilsner. Oh well – more sour for me. Soon enough, it was time for the pig pickin’ and  a huge 200 lb porker that had been smoked offsite more than ably fed all of the 30 or so campers plus the 10-15 or so guests. Being in this part of the state, it was of course served eastern style with a vinegar sauce and white slaw. And it tasted amazing. Finally, for dessert peach cobbler with Howling Cow (the ice cream made on campus) capped off the meal perfectly.

It truly was an honor to participate in this year’s NC State BBQ Camp. Big thanks to Dana Snow for the invite and hopefully I can participate again next year.