Linkdown: 11/25/20

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Eater Atlanta’s Mike Jordan speaks to a number of Atlanta-area pitmasters to get their take on “Georgia-style” barbecue, with the consensus that there is a style, but that you have to get out of Atlanta to try it and its not quite up there with the other “major” styles of barbecue.

The question of “what even is Georgia barbecue” seems to come up every few years and while I’m far from an expert when it comes the Peach State, I follow the lead of people who know more than me. Robert Moss notes in his latest issue of The Cue Sheet that Jordan didn’t quite venture far enough outside of Atlanta to get a true sense of Georgia-style barbecue. That is, chopped barbecue sandwiches, Brunswick stew, cole slaw, and sometimes a regional dish called chicken mull from the Athens area.

Finally, to get an even more impassioned defense of Georgia barbecue, I highly recommend you read our friend Grant’s missive from a few years back over at Marie, Let’s Eat. Grant knows more about Georgia barbecue than just about anyone out there, having done the legwork to travel to the farthest corners of the state in search of true barbecue. When it comes to Georgia barbecue, heed his word. In particular, he urges you to explore the Athens area:

What you might want to do is start in Athens, because some of the best barbecue in the country can be found here. Not too many people pish-poshed this notion, but a couple did, so let me be very clear: I think that Memphis is one of this country’s best barbecue cities. It’s home to Payne’s, Leonard’s, and the Bar-B-Q Shop, and they’re all amazing, and there are at least a dozen other darn good places there. I agree that Lexington NC is certainly one as well. I have only been here three very short times, but I’ve had four downright excellent meals and would love to return for a very long trip. I’m perfectly prepared to accept that Lockhart TX is one. It is unlikely that I will visit anytime soon, but I can believe the hype I hear. Its advocates are reliable correspondents. Kansas City, quite probably. Calvin Trillin believes in Arthur Bryant’s, and if you haven’t figured out how much debt I owe Trillin, you’re not paying attention.

So I’m not dismissing any other city when I say that the Athens area deserves to be given the same accolades. There’s room for it as well. I’ll say that the triangle formed by Zeb’s in Danielsville, Paul’s in Lexington, and Hot Thomas in Watkinsville is the region that I mean, and those three remarkably good restaurants are all in my top twenty somewhere. (They’re actually not in my top ten, about which more in a moment.) The photos accompanying this story come from our last weekend in Georgia before the move. We revisited Paul’s and Hot Thomas, along with Bill’s, which is just across the Clarke County line, outside of Hull, and Scott’s & BJ’s, the only one of these four with an actual Athens address.

(Not so) coincidentally, here’s Eater Atlanta’s list of best barbecue restaurants in the area they rolled out along with the “What is Georgia Barbecue?” article.

Native News

Adding Perry’s Pig Pickin’ BBQ in Mint Hill to my list

…same with The Smokehouse at Steve’s in Graham, courtesy of John Tanner’s Barbecue Blog

New merch from Stamey’s

Bear’s Smokehouse BBQ has opened its first location outside of Connecticut in Asheville’s South Slope by permanently parking a food truck on Coxe Ave

Non-Native News

The new Buc-ee’s in Florence, South Carolina will serve South Carolina barbecue alongside Texas barbecue

Home Team BBQ recently broke ground on its sixth location in Greenville, SC

Midwesterner on Midwest barbecue

How to make John Lewis’ green chile barbecue sauce at home, courtesy of Eater

Helen’s Bar-B-Que, by John T. Edge

Adrian Miller’s “Black Smoke” makes this list

Sometimes people are the worst

…but sometimes things work out

LOLZ

Barbecue Bros Book Club: “Southern Belly: The Ultimate Food Lover’s Companion to the South” by John T. Edge

Not that we’re anywhere close to being qualified enough to evaluate books but more so as a public service announcement we will periodically discuss barbecue and barbecue-related books.

Monk: John T. Edge’s book “Southern Belly: The Ultimate Food Lover’s Companion to the South” is the latest in a series of similar-but-unrelated books I’ve read recently that fall into a similar bucket. That is, short profiles on classic restaurants – be they southern, soul food, barbecue joint or otherwise. What ultimately sets “Southern Belly” apart is that it covers the entire south state-by-state from East Texas to Virginia as well as the writing of John T. Edge. Man, that guy knows how turn a phrase.

Any posts or stories about John T. Edge should acknowledge the recent accusations of him. A New York Times story from the summer called him the “white gatekeeper of southern food” and noted the numerous calls from current and former staff members and contributors for him to step down as director of the Southern Foodways Alliance after 20 years in favor of a person of color. What a 12-person audit conducted over the summer ultimately led to was Edge keeping his position for the time being but promising “to make immediate improvements and launch a long-term strategic review of the nonprofit group to diversify a predominantly White staff and leadership tasked with the study of a food culture created largely by enslaved people.” Critics of the audit outcome note the lack of specificity when it comes to a plan or even a timeline for Edge’s departure. Worth following for sure if and when more specifics are announced.

In a year when the James Beard Awards was cancelled allegedly due to no black winners, it seems as if 2020 is the year of chickens coming home to roost for the historically white food institutions.

Ultimately, I decided to still read “Southern Belly: The Ultimate Food Lover’s Companion to the South” in light of all of the recent accusations regarding John T. Edge. It’s still a worthy read and can point you to some great restaurants (at least those that are still around since the original 2007 publish date). Take that for what you will, but if you do check it out, be sure to read with eyes open.

Friday Find: How a Vietnamese Pitmaster is Bringing New Flavors to Texas Barbecue

Monk: Houston-based Khói Barbecue is a “Viet-Tex” pop-up that melds Vietnamese flavors with Texas barbecue in dishes like brisket pho or beef ribs marinated with kalbi (which is technically Korean) or a Vietnamese bò lá lốt sausage made from brisket trimmings. For more information, check them out on Instagram.

Description: At Khói Barbecue, brothers Don and Theo Nguyen use the Vietnamese ingredients and cooking methods from their childhood to influence their Texas Barbecue pop-ups, creating dishes like brisket pho and smoked chicken rice & yuzukoshō.

Jack’s Bar-B-Que – Nashville, TN

Name: Jack’s Bar-B-Que
Date: 11/11/20
Address: 1601 Charlotte Ave, Nashville, TN
Order: Three meat combo – brisket, pork, sausage, collards, baked apples, cornbread (link to menu)
Pricing: $

Speedy: One place in Nashville that does not get nearly enough love (including from yours truly) is Jack’s Bar-B-Que, a true OG of the Nashville ‘cue scene. Jack Cawthon opened his first restaurant on lower Broadway in 1989, and now has three locations including a different spot on Broadway, in the North Gulch on Charlotte Ave (where I visited this day), and in North Nashville. I have visited the Broadway location several times, but usually weekdays during lunch (back when people went to offices), or weekends while honky tonkin’ (back when people went to bars). I always told myself I’d write a review when I had time to visit and order more of the meats, and that time finally came.

Monk: I remember offices and bars…

Speedy: The Charlotte Ave location is much more spacious than on Broadway (I haven’t been to the North Nashville location), but in both places, you walk up to a cafeteria style line to order. Like a good Texas joint, the brisket and sausage is sliced right in front of you, but the pork has been pre-chopped. The sides, likewise, are in warming bins. The order of a three meat combo was an obvious one, though I was sad to leave out the ribs. Alas, next time.

Before diving into how everything tasted, let’s talk about value. The three meat combo is $17, which includes generous portions of each meat, two sides, and cornbread. If that was weighed out and served by the pound, you’d be paying close to twice that. Their by the pound prices are several dollars lower at each meat, including only $16.25 for a pound of brisket.

Great, so the barbecue is priced like it’s 2013, but how does it taste? Damn good. The brisket has a nice pepper flavor, and plenty of bark. It’s moist and tender and tastes great. It doesn’t quite melt in your mouth like the top-tier Texas brisket, but overall, it’s very good.

The pork at Jack’s is Tennessee pork shoulder. This may not be a popular opinion, but I prefer the shoulder to whole hog. The reason? The outside brown. The shoulder from Jack’s has plenty of outside brown chopped in. I didn’t taste any dip chopped in, but it was not dry at all. They call it Tennessee pork, but this is the closest I’ve come to finding Lexington-style pork shoulder (which we all know is the best) in Tennessee. Truly outstanding.

Monk: Now this Tennessee pork shoulder is intriguing, and something I gotta try the next time I’m in Nashville.

Speedy: The sausage was the one meat that was a slight disappointment to me. While smoked well, the flavor was a little plain. Next time, I’ll skip the sausage.

I don’t talk about sides much in my review, but I enjoyed the apples and the collards and absolutely loved the cornbread. Just a nice stamp on a great meal.

All the times I’ve been to Jack’s Bar-B-Que, it’s consistently been quite good. While not the sexiest place in Nashville (and certainly not the newest), it remains one of the best.

Ratings:
Atmosphere/Ambiance – 2.5 hogs
Brisket – 4 hogs
Pork – 4.5 hogs
Sausage – 2.5 hogs
Sides – 4 hogs
Overall – 4 hogs

Jacks Bar-B-Que Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato