Rodney Scott’s BBQ – Charleston, SC

IMG_9666
Name
: Rodney Scott’s BBQ
Date: 5/24/17
Address: 1011 King St, Charleston, SC 29403
Order: Whole hog plate with hush puppies and coleslaw (link to menu)
Price: $13.50

Monk: Coming into my vacation week in the Charleston area, I was just as excited for Rodney Scott’s BBQ as I was for Lewis Barbecue. I was fortunate enough to have visited Scott’s Bar-B-Que in tiny Hemingway, SC (pop. 573) a few years back taking the long way from Charleston back to NC. First trying Scott’s whole hog at a plastic table in that tiny convenience store was one of the top five or so best barbecue experiences in my life.

Thankfully, Rodney Scott has made it little more convenient to try his barbecue for those who can’t make the trek to Hemingway by opening up a store in Charleston earlier this year, adding to the city’s already booming barbecue scene.

Remembering that styrofoam tray back at Scott’s, I focused on the pork plate as I stepped up to the counter to order. In hindsight maybe I should have tried the ribs as well, but there’s always next time. In terms of setup, Rodney Scott’s is fast casual and covered in the same soothing light blue as the original which reminds me of a classic diner. It has booths on either side of the small-ish dining area with a raised community table at the center of the restaurant.

I’ll start by saying that the whole hog was very good. Still, I don’t think it quite lived up to how I remembered it from the original store. Perhaps it’s unfair to compare it to a memory of one of my favorite barbecue bites, but in any case it didn’t quite measure up. Both were tender and I favored the spicy table sauce in each instance. One difference between the two stores though: whereas the original has coarsely pulled strands of pork the Charleston location was coarsely chopped. But, like I said, it was still very good.

Keeping it traditional, I got hush puppies and white slaw on the side. The hush puppies in particular were very good, served with honey butter which I always like to see.

Like Lewis Barbecue, Rodney Scott’s BBQ falls victim to the Charleston effect when it comes to prices. A plate with two sides will run you almost $14 and that’s before a drink or beer. Some may quibble whether that’s worth it, but for whole hog of that quality in a town filled with tourists, that’s about what I’d expect.

For me, the whole hog of Rodney Scott’s BBQ doesn’t quite capture the magic of the original Hemingway location but there’s still a lot to like about the Charleston location.

Ratings:
Atmosphere – 3.5 hogs
Pork – 4 hogs
Sides – 4 hogs
Overall – 4 hogs

The Smoke Pit – Salisbury, NC

img_7722
Name
: The Smoke Pit
Date: 2/11/17
Address: 117 E Innes St, Salisbury, NC 28144
Order: Three meat combo (brisket, sausage, ribs) with baked beans and fries (link to menu)
Price: $28.95

Monk: On occasions such as my birthday, the Monk clan meets my parents (and occasionally the in-laws, like my mother-in-law this time) in Salisbury which is conveniently located exactly halfway between Charlotte and High Point. Lo and behold, The Smoke Pit, a favorite of ours in Concord, opened a second location there about a month ago. So that was an easy decision.

This location is an old brick building in Salisbury’s historic downtown and is a sit-down, full service restaurant as opposed to the fast casual model of the original location. It does have a bar and serves local beer on draft from New Sarum Brewing, Salisbury’s only brewery which is located just a few blocks away. I don’t recall the Concord location having beer on draft, so this is a welcome change.

Splitting a three meat tray with my dad, I went with the Texas Trinity – brisket, ribs, and sausage. As is the case in Concord, the portions are huge and this tray ended up being far more than my dad and I could even come close to eating for lunch that day. We each took home a box, so it really made for about 4 servings.

The brisket was well smoked if not perhaps a little on the fatty side (a choice of lean vs fatty isn’t offered). The two links of sausage come pre-sliced and was my favorite meat of the meal, particularly when dipped in the mustard. The ribs came a little too easily off the bone but still had good flavor. All were very good and consistent from the last time I went to the Concord location.

As for sides, the beans were standard and the fries had nice seasoning. The Texas toast and cornbread that came with the meal were both nice accompaniments, with the cornbread being of the sweeter variety that I always like.

After my meal, I traded Facebook comments with Joey, who manages both restaurants. He is splitting his time between the two locations, and I think it shows when it comes to the consistency. The Smoke Pit has done well with their Salisbury location, and based on a packed lunch on a Saturday, I think the town is a fan.

Ratings:
Atmosphere – 3.5 hogs
Brisket – 4 hogs
Ribs – 3.5 hogs
Sausage – 4 hogs
Sides – 3.5 hogs
Overall – 4 hogs

Big Tiny’s BBQ – Mooresville, NC

img_7599

Name: Big Tiny’s BBQ
Date: 1/16/17
Address: 179 N Main St, Mooresville, NC 28115
Order: ¼ lb brisket, ¼ lb Texas sausage, ¼ lb pork spare ribs, Natty Greene’s Session IPA (link to menu)
Price: $16.59

Monk: While you can find a couple of pretty darn good briskets in and around Charlotte (Midwood Smokehouse and The Smoke Pit immediately come to mind), it’s usually at a place that serves a little bit of everything in terms of barbecue cuisine (John Shelton Reed calls that model the “International House of Barbecue” model). Big Tiny’s BBQ is a newish joint in Mooresville that is truly trying to replicate a Texas style joint in NC – think Rudy’s Country Store and Bar-B-Q (mainly because that is exactly what they are going for).

In addition to being super nice people, owners John and Elizabeth Maddox are both Texans that have been in Mooresville for the past 15 years. After years of John smoking as a hobby and then as a side job, they opened their location in downtown Mooresville in a beautiful space last summer. Being that they are both new to the restaurant industry – John worked in auto racing and Elizabeth in insurance – they are learning more about running a restaurant and consistency of product each day. Based on what I saw 4 months in, they are off to a great start.

The layout of Tiny’s is has guests form a line as soon as they enter before they are greeted by a couple of tubs filled with beers and soft drinks in glass bottles before stepping up to a counter where they order meats by the ¼ or ½ pound. Those meats are then sliced and weighed in front of the customer. Even for fast casual barbecue restaurants in the area, this is a unique experience where you are paying by the pound even if you aren’t buying in bulk. They wrap the meats in foil and place into a plastic carrying container (apparently another cue from Rudy’s) with butcher paper and white bread. Then off the customer goes to the long picnic-style tables with red and white gingham table cloths where they can spread out and dig in.

As for the meats, Big Tiny’s is using a Cookshack pellet smoker from Oklahoma. I am not sure if I’ve ever eaten barbecue smoked on a Cookshack but in any case they are able to get a lot of smoke onto the meats. The brisket – I don’t recall there being a choice between lean or fatty – was moist and had a nice peppery bark as well as a good tug to it. The sausage is imported from Texas and had a nice snap and spice to it. The rib was smoked nicely and didn’t pull completely away from the bone with each chew. And the turkey, which I got a few sample slices of after I sat down, was lean, well smoked, and a nice alternative. In general the meats are consistently pretty excellent.

One thing you won’t find on the menu is chopped or pulled pork, and John assured me that will always be the case, no matter how many times they may get asked from locals who are used to barbecue joints automatically serving pork. They want to stay true to their Texas roots, and in a way I can respect them for that approach.

While I only ordered meats (after having just come from Bar-B-Q King in Lincolnton), I got a small sample of the corn casserole which was fantastic. It has been adapted from a family recipe, as has several other of the scratch made sides on the menu.

Named after their first dog, whose large portrait is one of the first pictures you see as you get in line, Big Tiny’s BBQ is a worthy addition to the barbecue scene in the Charlotte area. It ably fills a niche in our pork-centric barbecue culture, and I hope that the locals give John and Elizabeth Maddox’s Texas-style joint a fair shake. I certainly plan to go back next time I’m in the area.

Ratings:
Atmosphere – 3.5 hogs
Brisket – 4 hogs
Sausage – 4 hogs
Ribs – 4 hogs
Turkey – 3.5 hogs
Sides – 4.5 hogs
Overall – 4 hogs

Midwood Smokeshack – Matthews, NC

img_6574Name: Midwood Smokeshack
Date: 9/30/16
Address: 3335 Siskey Pkwy #400, Charlotte, NC 28105
Order: Well-Fed combo platter with pulled pork (x2), brisket, and sausage with creamed corn, collards, and cornbread  (link to menu)
Price: $24

Monk: Readers may recall that I had previously checked out Midwood Smokeshack in early September on the invitation of FS Food Group owner Frank Scibelli for the primary purpose of meeting the new pitmaster, Michael Wagner. I didn’t want do an official review of that visit but this time around I took the family there on a Friday night to check it out on my own dime.

During our couple of minutes wait in a short line, I was able to convince Mrs. Monk to go in on the “Well-Fed” platter containing 4 meats and two sides with the stipulation that two of the meats be pork since she she wasn’t interested in eating any brisket (we also got sausage as our fourth meat).

Midwood Smokeshack is utilizing the same rotisserie-style, stick burning smoker used at the full-sized Midwood Smokehouse locations and while there may some slight variations, all in all I found the meats to be pretty consistent in quality and flavors. The chopped pork had flavorful chunks of bark throughout and I really enjoyed mixing some of the eastern NC sauce in. I requested a mix of fatty and lean brisket and it had the peppery bark you would expect from Midwood Smokehouse. And the sausage with the South Carolina mustard sauce was a hit with both myself and the missus.

I’m usually pretty consistent when it comes to sides at Midwood Smokehouse: slaw and hush puppies. But with Mrs. Monk picking out sides (another stipulation of getting the Well-Fed platter), we were a bit more adventurous. I hadn’t tried the creamed corn before and after tasting it, I’m not sure why I hadn’t – I loved it and will definitely order it again. The collards with chunks of brisket mixed in were just ok and I’ve tasted better.

The other difference between Smokeshack and Smokehouse is they have opted for cornbread over hush puppies. Partially for logistical reasons – a deep fryer in a crowded serving area would be dangerous – but I also got the sense from speaking with Frank last time that they also wanted to try something different. Their version of cornbread was little bite-sized muffins and was delicious.

I love the original Midwood Smokehouse and will continue to frequent that establishment when the occasion calls for it. But fast casual is increasingly the way people want to eat these days (families, in particular) so its really smart for FS Food Group to build out the Midwood Smokeshack concept (along with their Mediterranean concept Yafo). The fact that they execute a slimmed-down version of the same menu with no drop off in quality is impressive, and I predict that I will find myself frequenting this establishment pretty darn often.

Ratings:
Atmosphere – 3 hogs
Pork – 4 hogs
Brisket – 4 hogs
Sausage – 4 hogs
Sides – 3.5 hogs
Overall – 4 hogs

Old Etowah Smokehouse – Etowah, NC

img_6386
Name
: Old Etowah Smokehouse
Date: 9/17/16
Address: 6577 Brevard Rd, Etowah, NC 28729
Order: Three meat plate with pulled pork, brisket, and sausage with slaw, collards, and barbecue hash; hush puppy basket,  (link to menu)
Price: $21.50

Monk: When I met Elliot Moss of Asheville’s Buxton Hall Barbecue back in June, he recommended I check out Old Etowah Smokehouse started by a buddy of his Mike Moore, co-founder of Blind Pig Supper Club and former owner of Seven Sows. Etowah is a small mountain community about 15 minutes west of Hendersonville, which is itself about 30 minutes from Asheville. On a recent apple picking day trip in the mountains (#dadlife), this allowed me a good opportunity to continue my mini quest to try all of the new wave whole hog joints in NC. This makes 3 of 4 including aforementioned Buxton Hall and Picnic.

As I understand it, Old Etowah Smokehouse took over a location that used to house another barbecue spot called The Barbecue Shack. They’ve since added a patio around the side that overlooks a golf course. And on a mid-September Saturday, the shaded patio provided a nice spot to eat. One quirk is that if you are eating on the patio, you actually order at the hostess station and it is brought out to the patio – as opposed to ordering via a waitress at the table if you sit inside the main dining area. There’s also a buffet, which makes a third way of ordering.

I ordered a 3 meat platter with pork, brisket, and sausage (didn’t plan to, but accidentally ordered “the Texas trinity”) because Mrs. Monk wasn’t going for the deluxe combo that would have added chicken and ribs. The pulled pork was very well smoked and moist. I tried the Eastern sauce and it definitely enhanced the meat like a good sauce should.

The brisket was a mix of fatty and lean (no choice given when ordering) and had a good peppery bark. It was a very good approximation of central Texas style and I’d say above average for a brisket in NC. I’m unsure of the origins of the sausage and whether it’s imported from Texas or made in house, but it was fine but maybe slightly dry.

As a starter, we ordered a hush puppy basket and lo and behold, it actually comes with a side of melted pimento cheese. I had never seen this before and I gotta tell you, I didn’t mind it. Though I still probably prefer honey butter or served just plain, I’m glad I tried it. The collards were Mrs. Monk approved and the only miss of the meal for me was the barbecue hash. The flavor of the gravy had a slightly burnt taste that was a bit off-putting. Perhaps it was an off day for the hash.

While overall I enjoyed the meal at Old Etowah Smokehouse and the direction they’re going in since opening in just June, of the new wave of whole hog joints I’d rank it behind Buxton Hall but ahead of Picnic. Sam Jones BBQ, you’re up next hopefully soon.

Ratings:
Atmosphere – 3.5 hogs
Pork – 4 hogs
Brisket – 4 hogs
Sausage – 3 hogs
Sides – 3 hogs
Overall – 4 hogs

Luella’s Barbecue – Asheville, NC

IMG_0501
Name
: Luella’s Bar-B-Que
Date: 6/26/16
Address: 501 Merrimon Ave, Asheville, NC 28804
Order: Chopped Plate with Fries, Slaw and Hushpuppies, Cheerwine (link to menu)

Speedy: A day after visiting Buxton Hall, I decided to have a treat yo’ self meal at another ‘cue joint, so I texted Monk to see where he thought I should go. He mentioned that he’d wanted to try Luella’s for a while, but hadn’t gotten around to it, so I undertook the task. Walking in, Luella’s has ample seating and a nice, long bar, as well as some outdoor seating. Overall, it seemed like a great place to have a meal.

The menu advertises the chopped pork BBQ as eastern style, so that was my order, along with fries, slaw, and hushpuppies. The food came out quickly and I dug in.

The pork was, simply, divine. It had great smoke flavor, lots of bark, and was cooked and chopped perfectly. I think it could have used a little more tang, but I’m definitely splitting hairs. When compared to Buxton Hall, this pork had more bark and smoke, but was just a little behind in terms of tenderness and tang. Knowing Monk, I think he’d disagree, but I’d have to give Luella’s a very slight edge. But you can’t go wrong either way.

The sides were also good. The vinegar based slaw was enjoyable, even if it didn’t quite stack up to the Lexington style barbecue slaw. And the hush puppies were no slouch either.

Monk:  Before Buxton Hall and even Etowah Smokehouse came along, Luella’s had been on my radar. So that’s great to hear that it worked out for you. I mean, 4 hogs? That’s high praise.

Speedy: Overall, I only had time for a quick meal at Luella’s, but I’ll definitely return. I hate that I didn’t get a chance to try any of the other meats, but this is definitely a place worth visiting.

(For another review of Luella’s Bar-B-Que, check out Marie, Let’s Eat!)

Ratings:
Atmosphere – 3.5 hogs
Pork – 4 hogs
Sides – 3 hogs
Overall – 4 hogs
Luella's Bar-B-Que Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Black’s Barbecue – Austin, TX

IMG_5038
Name: Black’s Barbecue (Austin)
Date: 5/23/16
Address: 3110 Guadalupe St., Austin, TX 78705
Order: 2 Meat Sandwich, Marshmallow Sweet Potatoes, Tea  (Link To Menu)
Price: $14.19

Rudy: It had been a long time since I had done a review and I had been wanting to try the Black’s Austin location. Speedy and I had visited the original Lockhart location a couple of years ago but since then they had opened a new place near the University of Texas campus. I thought lunch would be a great chance to check it out. It is located in a strip-mall type building, but does have a parking lot next door, which allowed for easy access. The Austin location is much smaller than the Lockhart one, but I thought it was much nicer and had gotten rid of the cafeteria-style set up that they have in Lockhart.  They also have a small patio outside for dining.

Monk: Was getting rid of the cafeteria-style set up a good thing or nah?

Rudy: I like it much better without the sides sitting out in the open. It also looks more like a restaurant and not a cafeteria. In the past I had always gotten larger plates with a few sides and couple different meats in order to complete a full review. This time I wasn’t as hungry, so I opted for just a sandwich and side. I selected their two-meat sandwich with moist brisket and Jalapeno-Cheddar sausage and a side of their mashed sweet potatoes. This was a great choice because it allowed me to try two different meats, but wasn’t overkill.  

Monk: Let me just remind you that I’ve previously gotten flack for only getting a sandwich but I’m with you – don’t go crazy if you aren’t looking for a full platter (particularly in the middle of the day).

Rudy: Normally when you get a brisket sandwich, it is chopped brisket mixed with sauce (which Black’s does offer) but that was not the case this time. Instead, it was a couple of full slices of brisket on the bun with the sausage ring on top. And it was amazing, because the fat from the brisket was soaked up by the bun, giving it a rich moist taste. The spice from the jalapenos also gave the sandwich some great flavor.  The brisket was the same great brisket you are accustomed to getting from Black’s, as was the sausage.  

Monk: This sandwich sounds like the turducken of barbecue, and I correct me if I am wrong but this is the first time something like this has been reviewed for the blog.

Rudy: I think it is, but if other places offer it instead of the chopped brisket, it may be the way to go in the future. Though if I had it to do again, I would not have ordered the sausage on the sandwich because the casing of the sausage was too much of a change in texture from the brisket. Don’t get me wrong, the flavor was great, I just didn’t like the softness of the fatty brisket set against the snap of the casing in each bite.  

The sweet potatoes were amazing. Very creamy and sweet with the marshmallow on top of them. They looked to have a many other good options for sides for future trips to Black’s Barbecue, which I will be making.

Ratings:
Atmosphere – 4 Hogs
Brisket – 4 Hogs
Sausage – 4 Hogs
Side – 4 Hogs
Overall – 4 Hogs
Black's Barbeque Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Black's BBQ

IMG_5043 IMG_5045 IMG_5044 IMG_5042 IMG_5040 IMG_5041

The Smoke Pit – Concord, NC (RE-REVIEW)

IMG_4498
Name
: The Smoke Pit
Date: 1/30/16
Address: 796 Concord Pkwy N, Concord, NC 28027
Order: Pork, brisket, ribs, and sausage combo with bbq slaw, fries, cornbread, and drinks (link)
Price: $23.95

Monk: After a very promising initial impression of The Smoke Pit, I knew I had to revisit with Speedy to get his take and confirm just how good it was – or at least how good I thought it was. Also, with him there it would allow us to order a 4 meat combo and try more meats without me having leftovers for the next week. Luckily, Speedy was getting his car serviced in Concord so we had the perfect opportunity. Spoiler alert – it was better than the last time.

Speedy: I’m a skeptic at heart, so even though Monk and I have pretty much the similar taste in a lot of things (barbecue, music, women – what up Mrs. Monk?), I had to try the Smoke Pit for myself to see what the fuss was about. First things first, the Smoke Pit is attached to a butcher shop – a great sign if I’ve ever seen one. Secondly, it’s just a classic ‘cue joint where you wait your turn, order, sit down, and wait for someone to bring the food to you. The menu is solid, but with so many meats, can they all be good? Time to find out.

Monk: The large portion of chopped pork was just as smokey and moist as I had recalled from my first visit in November. It was nice to see that consistency didn’t seem to be an issue here. The sausage, a meat I had not tried yet, was a house made sausage that had good flavor but which I found to be a little dry. I’m certainly no expert when it comes to sausage, but perhaps it needed some more fat as part of the grind? Still, while it was the least successful of the meats on that day, it was still above average.

Speedy: The ribs were ordered dry, but came out glazed, but not overly sauced by any means. The big, meaty spare ribs were cooked well and had a nice bit and good flavor. I thought they could’ve stood to be seasoned a bit more and I always prefer St. Louis cut when I’m eating spare ribs, but overall, these were pretty good. I can’t say the same for the brisket, though, because it was incredible. My disdain for NC brisket is well documented, so my expectations were pretty low, but one bite of the moist, flavorful meat changed everything. The brisket had the perfect amount of bark, was not too fatty, but not too lean either. And there was just enough smoke on the meat to let you know it was there without overpowering the flavor. I won’t go so far as to say this is the best brisket I’ve ever had, but I’d stack it up with most any Texas joint I’ve been to and it far outshines anything I’ve had east of the Mississippi. While the other meats were in the solid to good range, I can guarantee that I’ll never visit the Smoke Pit without getting an order of that brisket. My mouth is literally watering as I type this.

Monk: After my first visit and subsequent photos on Facebook, the manager/owner Joey said to let him know next time we were in, so we asked for him at the register and towards the end of our meal he came out to chat and give us a tour of the facilities. He first walked us back to the two Southern Pride smokers (a third is on the way to handle additional capacity) and let us know that they smoke 24 hours a day to handle demand. On one smoker they would sell out around 2pm while now with two they are able to make it until about 6pm. The Southern Prides are rotisserie smokers that allows them to smoke using a variant of hickory wood (I forget exactly which). He then let us peek our heads next door into the butcher shop (which he also owns) and the walk-in freezer filled with the thousands of pounds of meat that they will finish smoking that day (they will be expanding the walk-in soon to handle capacity)

Speedy: I will say that Monk was wrong about one thing – we still left with a week’s worth of leftovers. In the case of The Smoke Pit, that turned out to be a good thing.

Speedy post script: I needed to add here that I had also had a co-worker sing the praises of the Smoke Pit. Since I threw him under the bus a bit in a review a few years ago, I needed to say D – you totally redeemed yourself! Looks like you’ve been in the South long enough that your ‘cue recommendations need to be taken seriously.

Ratings:
Atmosphere – 3.5 hogs
Pork – 4 hogs
Brisket – 4.5 hogs
Ribs – 3.5 hogs
Sausage – 3 hogs
Sides – 3 hogs
Overall – 4 hogs
The Smoke Pit Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
The Smoke Pit

IMG_4455 IMG_4457 IMG_4459 IMG_4454

The Smokin’ Pig – Williamston, SC

IMG_2364

Name: The Smokin’ Pig
Date: 6/20/15
Address: 720 Anderson Drive, Williamston, SC
Order: Monk: Two meat combo plate with pulled pork and brisket, slaw, fries Speedy: Three meat combo plate with pulled pork, ribs and brisket, fries, okra (link to menu)
Price: $35

Speedy: Recently, Mrs. Monk and I planned a secret Atlanta trip to surprise a friend for her birthday as well as Monk for Father’s day. Knowing this would inevitably lead to eating some ‘cue while on the road, I asked former co-worker and friend of the blog Reid for some suggestions in the greater Greenville area. He came back with The Smokin’ Pig. Heading that way, Monk asked, “hey Speedy – does this guy know what he’s talking about?” My response: “Well, he does have a Green Egg.” And that was enough for Monk.

Monk: That’s exactly right, Speedy. I figured if he had a Green Egg then he was pretty darn credible as referrer of barbecue. Just as you always talk on and on about how Tyrion is a credible referrer of kings on Game of Thrones. The Smokin’ Pig has two locations, and driving south on I-85 the closest one to us at the time (albeit farther off the highway) was in Williamston. The other one is on the way to Clemson University and we overheard the waitress say to another booth that a third location was opening soon (though we didn’t hear where). On the side of the small brick establishment are an American flag and the large block letters “BBQ”. As soon as I saw this glorious sight, I knew we weren’t going to be let down by friend of the blog Reid (of the Green Egg). Just as Tyrion wasn’t let down by Varys, or so you always say.

Speedy: Don’t get me started on the Spider, Monk. We all know he has a tender heart under that smarmy, bald exterior. Anyhow, as everyone who’s been reading this blog knows, I love a good combo plate, so my order was easy. I had sworn off Carolina brisket previously, but I was feeling saucy (pun intended) so went for it anyway. In addition to pork and brisket, I was given the choice of wet or dry ribs. I opted for the dry.

Monk: Unlike Speedy, I try to be more in tune with my body and how much I can actually eat so I went for a two meat combo plate with pork and brisket. On looks alone, both were great. The brisket had a good peppery bark and was outstanding. Easily the best I’ve had in South Carolina, and it’s not even close. The pork, while maybe just a hair dry, was still tender with smoky chunks of bark mixed in. The pork stood pretty well on its own, but I as well as Speedy and Mrs. Monk added some of the scratch made vinegar sauce at the table (a house made mustard and a more ketchupy sauce were also available). I almost started to say that this was the best pork I’ve had in South Carolina before Speedy reminded me that I’ve been to Scott’s. Still, after that it is way better than anything else we’ve tried.

Speedy: I agree with all of that. The brisket was way better than I expected and the bark on the pork really helped it shine. Like the other meats, the ribs had a good amount of smoke and great flavor from the awesome dry rub. I thought they were just a little bit over cooked and the membrane on cooking style is not my preference, but overall, this is a very good baby back rib. I wouldn’t hesitate recommending any of the meats to anyone going.

Monk: For some reason, the first thing I reached for on my plate was a fry and as standard as they were, they had some great seasoning and were a signal of things to come. The slaw was a white slaw and was good not great. I didn’t finish either, focusing on the meat, but both were fine. The oddity here was the butter-topped yeast roll that came with the combo platters as opposed to corn bread of some sort. Sucker for a yeast roll that I am (I see you, Quincy’s), this was a good one but I couldn’t help but feel it was a little out of place at a barbecue joint

Speedy: Overall, this was a really great ‘cue meal. The Smokin’ Pig is a bit in the middle of nowhere, but it was a great find. I’m really interested in trying other the other location (soon to be locations!) and may have found a go to spot on the road to Atlanta.

Ratings:
Atmosphere/Ambiance – 4 hogs
Pork – 3.5 hogs
Brisket – 4 hogs
Ribs – 4 hogs
Sides – 3 hogs
Overall – 4 hogs
Click to add a blog post for Smokin Pig on Zomato
IMG_2371 IMG_2375 IMG_2376 IMG_2378 IMG_2380 IMG_2382 IMG_2361 IMG_2386 IMG_2388

Midwood Smokehouse – Charlotte, NC (Ballantyne)

11112902_10101327077827319_8775589116351399231_o

Name: Midwood Smokehouse (Ballantyne)
Date: 5/22/15
Address: 12410 Johnston Rd, Charlotte, NC 28277
Order: Pig Out combo platter (pulled pork, sausage, ribs, and brisket), collards, and barbecue slaw; Burnt ends platter with mac and cheese and hush puppies (link to menu)
Price: $35

Monk: In a complete coincidence, Speedy and I went to a Midwood Smokehouse on the weekend of our blog-a-versary, just as we did last year. This time the occasion was Midwood’s first expansion into the south Charlotte neighborhood of Ballantyne. Ballantyne has a deserved reputation of being a haven for chain restaurants and while Midwood is fully into expansion mode with future locations announced or expected in Columbia, SC and Huntersville/Mooresville, it was a welcome sight for the Monk clan as we have recently moved to south Charlotte, albeit 12-15 minutes northeast of Ballantyne.

Speedy: And a royal pain in the neck for Speedy who hates getting anywhere near South Carolina during rush hour. However, as our dear readers know, we’ll do anything for good ‘cue. And for this anniversary trip, we brought along Yelp god Dan, a fellow High Pointer turned food critic extraordinaire. Seriously – this guy Yelps more than Jon Snow broods on Game of Thrones (update: Dan’s review here).

Monk: In addition to being an elite Yelper, Dan is also asian and thus takes a ton of photos. Which came in handy since I forgot to bring my camera on this trip. So big ups to Dan for all of the photos in this post. I must say, it was a nice change to just kick back and enjoy the food without worrying about photos.

As for the food, in order to give him a taste of the full range of meats available, we ordered a Pig Out combo plus a burnt ends platter. For their second location, Midwood has utilized an Oyler smoker pretty much identical to the one at the Central Ave. location. Having been open for about 3 weeks, I expected the food to be pretty consistent between the two locations.

Speedy: And consistent it was. The dry ribs were perfectly cooked. Tender without falling off the bone and flawlessly seasoned. The rub really made these bad boys. The ribs might have even been better than I remember. The sausage was good, but didn’t quite hit the mark for me. I felt like maybe it was slightly overcooked, as it was a little drier than I like. But I’m nit-picking a bit – it was still good.

Monk: One thing that was different from Central was that the sausage came out whole as opposed to being pre-sliced for us. May have been an oversight but I guess it’s worth mentioning. My one gripe with the pork was that it was a fairly small portion but it was the eastern style pork I am accustomed to at Midwood. Finally, the brisket was maybe a little below par, but seeing as they were recently named the #6 brisket outside of Texas by The 100 Best Barbecue Restaurants in America (not to mention I’ve personally experienced their greatness), I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.

Speedy: The burnt ends have been a staple for me at the other location since they became a consistent menu item. I think they’re great. The sauce is sweet, but not overly, and the meat is tender and flavorful. We don’t get burnt ends too often here in NC, so I love having a place close by that does such a credible job.

Monk: One thing worth mentioning is that owner Frank Scibelli, who I briefly said hi to as he was patrolling the dinner crowd, isn’t thrilled with their current burnt end recipe and seemed to be considering making a change as he found them to be too sweet. We’ll have to see if that actually happens and whether that changes Speedy’s mind any.

As with (most of) the meats, the sides were consistent between the two locations. I had no complaints, nor did any stand above what I was expecting.

Speedy: Overall, the quality of the food (and overall experience) at the Ballantyne location was pretty consistent with the Plaza Midwood location, which is a good thing. In the midst of the Chain Restaurant Mecca, I feel confident saying one of the best meals you can find is at Midwood Smokehouse.

Monk: We’ve considered giving Midwood Smokehouse a 4 hog rating in the past, but with this one I think we’ve got to do it. 4 hogs it is.

Ratings:
Atmosphere/Ambiance – 3.5 hogs
Pork – 4 hogs
Brisket – 3.5 hogs
Ribs – 4 hogs
Sausage – 3.5 hogs
Burnt Ends – 4 hogs
Sides – 3.5 hogs
Overall – 4 hogs

10458938_10101327078241489_6431225326678958295_o 11267888_10101327078321329_4593803191604239184_o 11312894_10101327078216539_1588749748504756925_o 11334218_10101327078166639_6917978442658228987_o 11165204_10101327077837299_9167806623993590920_o 11103109_10101327077972029_7286476423938646820_o 11252355_10101327077991989_1339142538795451373_o