Linkdown: 1/27/16

– A sneak preview of the February barbecue issue of Our State Magazine from the Red Bridges Facebook page

Our State Magazine - February 2016 Barbecue Issue

– The issue will be on newstands next Tuesday and here’s a sneak peak

– CrossTies Barbecue in Carrboro is an upcoming restaurant that will be a full-service barbecue restaurant “specializing in authentic Carolina barbecue and a variety of smoked meats, including fresh-made sausages and bacon”; it is slated to open in May

– This person’s “best things I ate in Charlotte in 2015” list includes barbecue from Mac’s Speed Shop and I can’t give the rest of the list any credence (also: mozzarella sticks? Really?)

– For Southern Living’s 50th Anniversary, Robert Moss profiles the South’s legendary joints

– Ole Time BBQ in Raleigh (a semi-decent joint where I ate a lot in college) is closed until further notice after a car crashed into it Saturday night

– Jess Pryles has made recent updates to her guide to Austin Barbecue

– Lewis Barbecue is doing a pop-up tour of Charleston breweries the first three Saturdays of February

– Queen City Q’s Ballantyne location (in the old Elwood’s) is open for lunch and to-go orders as of Monday

Midwood Smokehouse – Charlotte, NC (Ballantyne)

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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

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Linkdown: 12/18/13

 – This month’s featured barbecue photographer on TMBBQ is Denny Culbert from Lafayette, Louisiana, who has some great photos from his Barbecue Bus project featuring Stamey’s, Scott’s, Skylight Inn, and more NC joints

Here’s what TMBBQ had to say about the new Texas/Carolina barbecue joint Curly’s Carolina, TX 

A big vertical smoker uses pecan for the pork shoulders and ribs. It’s all cooked with wood, but there are no coals. We love our smokers here in Texas, but in the Carolinas the pork shoulders and whole hogs are cooked directly over hickory coals. It creates a flavor similar to the Texas Hill Country style of cooking, but doesn’t taste much like slow smoked pork. I questioned Jay and John about this and Jay hoped to have a direct-heat cooker operational soon and even hinted that whole hogs could be on the horizon. Until then, the meat won’t have much Carolina flavor until you squeeze on the vinegar sauce.

– Although this article has a somewhat unfortunate title – “Private school students start barbecue business” – it’s a cool story about high school kids in Thomasville (just outside the Barbecue Bros hometown of High Point) starting their own barbecue business; check out more on Butch Cassidy Barbecue here (via)

– Fervent Foodie has a review on Elwood’s Barbecue & Burger Bar in Ballantyne

– Ever wonder what it’s like to cook a whole hog with Rodney Scott? Well this gives you a better idea:

It’s nine p.m. at Charles Towne Landing, a six-hundred-acre park just outside of Charleston, South Carolina, and Steven Green is holding a blowtorch to an opening in a repurposed oil drum that is filled to the top with damp pieces of oak. Flecks of rain fall across two cleaned, beheaded, and butterflied pigs sitting on a sheet-metal barbecue pit nearby. Tomorrow, the pigs will feed hundreds of Garden & Gun readers who are in town for the first Jubileefestival. Right now, Green and his boss, pit master Rodney Scott, are just trying to get the fire going.