Old Hickory Bar-B-Q – Owensboro, KY

IMG_1566
Name: Old Hickory Bar-B-Q
Date: 7/1/17
Address: 338 Washington Avenue, Owensboro, KY 42301
Order: Combination plate – mutton, mutton ribs, pork (fries and onion rings) (link to menu)
Price: $14.50

Speedy: After my recent relocation to Nashville, I found myself to be in close proximity to the state of Kentucky, which really only has two things I care about – horse racing and bourbon. On a Saturday afternoon starting a long weekend, I found myself with nothing to do, so I decided to make the drive up to see if I could add ‘cue to my “reasons to go to Kentucky” list. I chose Owensboro, as the that seems to be the most famous place for Kentucky’s meat of choice – mutton.

Monk: As always, I appreciate the dedication in driving long distances to try new joints. And seeing as how I don’t see Rudy or me making it to Western Kentucky anytime soon, thanks for biting the bullet and checking out the mutton. I couldn’t have been more curious as to how you would find it once I saw you were checking it out.

Speedy: After the considerable drive (which may have included stops at a couple of distilleries)…

Monk: …ah, there it is…

Speedy: …I pulled into Old Hickory Bar-B-Que to see a traditional looking ‘cue joint with a sign claiming “five generations of quality bar-b-q”.

Monk: So far so good, although can we talk about how Owensboro fancies itself to be the “Barbecue Capital of the World”? Were you aware of this during your trip and if so, how did you feel betraying Lexington, NC like that?

Speedy: No, I wasn’t aware, but I’m not surprised. There are a lot of false idols in this world, Monk, and you can’t avoid them all.

I walked in and was seated at a booth, where I quickly ordered a combination plate with three meats – I chose two kinds of mutton (traditional and ribs) and pork (you can take the boy out of North Carolina…). The food came out quickly and I dug in.

The portions were more than generous. I started with the pork, which was chopped super fine – even finer than Lexington style. In fact, it almost looked like a sloppy Joe. But the flavor was good – it was pre-sauced with a vinegary sauce. It was pretty decent and didn’t require any more sauce, but I felt it did lose a bit of the pork flavor. I also would have loved to have a little bark in with the pork, but it was just fine.

Monk: From the photos, I do believe that pork looks to have the consistency of refried beans just a little bit. At least it was still somewhat tasty, according to you.

Speedy: As for the mutton, I’ll have to describe both cuts of meat at the same time, because I honestly couldn’t tell the difference. There were big chunks of mutton meat that were tender and easy to pull. The tenderness was the best part of the meat. The flavor was somewhat bland and gamey. Adding either sauce (a vinegar base and a sweet heat sauce) helped, but overall, I didn’t find the mutton to be that enjoyable.

Monk: I could really try to shoehorn a “Seinfeld” quote in here, but I think I’ll refrain…

Speedy: The sides were fine (I stuck to the fried variety), but overall, I didn’t think the meal was that great. I don’t feel great writing this review, as I don’t think Old Hickory Bar-B-Q did anything wrong – I just think mutton is not a great meat, which is why no one else cooks it.  

For more reviews of Old Hickory Bar-B-Q, check out:
Marie, Let’s Eat!

Ratings:
Atmosphere/Ambiance – 3.5 hogs
Pork – 3 hogs
Mutton – 2 hogs
Sides – 3 hogs
Overall – 2.5 hogs
Old Hickory Bar-B-Q Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

IMG_1563

Friday Find: YETI Presents: Tootsie

From Yeti (a brand which appears to be universally loved by just about every celebrity pitmaster), a profile on the 81 year old Texas pitmaster who goes by one name: Tootsie.

Custodian by day, Texas barbecue pitmaster by night, Tootsie Tomanetz wrote the book on hard work and dedication. At 81, she’s spent the best part of the last 15 years making the best barbecue in Texas at Snow’s BBQ.

Whether tending to the grounds at Giddings High School, or ​keeping the fire going at Snow’s BBQ, pitmaster Tootsie Tomanetz doesn’t have a lazy bone in her body. In this YETI Presents video, visit Lee County and a renowned Texas barbecue pit, where Tootsie doesn’t see herself putting on the brakes anytime soon. Slowing down just wouldn’t suit her.

Linkdown: 7/19/17

– From Joe Haynes, the author who brought us Virginia Barbecue, comes Brunswick Stew: A Virginia Tradition out in October:

– Grant finds some decent cue but some great fries at Love That BBQ in Knoxville

– Elliott Moss’s favorite spots for hash in his home state of SC

– The supposed golden age of Texas barbecue means “waiting is the price you pay for transcendence”

– In search of great barbecue at last weekend’s Windy City Smokeout

– Aaron Franklin with tips to improve your backyard smoker in Esquire

– Stubb’s (the restaurant) will be changing names after settling a lawsuit with Stubb’s (the sauce)

– From the G&G archives

The Smoke Daddy – Chicago, IL

IMG_1525
Name: The Smoke Daddy
Date: 6/17/17
Address: 1804 W Division St., Chicago, IL
Order: Taste of the Daddy – baby back ribs, burnt ends, pulled pork, fries, collards (link to menu)
Price: $25

Speedy: By now, most of my friends are aware of this little barbecue adventure I’m on with Monk and Rudy, and so they have a tendency to suggest ‘cue when I come to visit. This has turned out really well in some cases, terrible in others (I’m looking at you, Boomsauce). Let’s see how the Smoke Daddy stacks up.

Monk: With a name like Smoke Daddy….well, I actually don’t know what to expect. I do know that that I am definitively not a fan of that name, though. Speaking of Boomsauce, Smoke Daddy does sound like somewhere he’d take us. A place where they’d have crappy t-shirts with bad graphics and not-clever innuendo all over it.

Speedy: First off, I want to say a big thanks to my (non-barbecue) bro Berg for letting me put in the full order. He really knows when to let the pros step in. The ribs were part of the deal, and pork was a given. I tacked on burnt ends because I don’t get them too often. Add on fries and collards and we were set.

The food came out looking great, but there was a lot of sauce on everything. I get this on ribs and burnt ends, but I prefer for pork to not be overly sauced. The meat was nice and tender, though, and pulled into decent sized chunks with a nice bark. I would rate the pork as decent to good, but not anything better than that.

The burnt ends were similar. While I expect these to be sauced coming out, I still want the meat to do most of the talking. That wasn’t really the case here, as the sauce was the star. Still enjoyable, and cooked well, but I wanted a little more.

The ribs were my favorite meat. Even though they were baby backs, they were nice and meaty. They were cooked to a nice tenderness without falling off the bone. I got a nice pork flavor, which this time mixed well with the sauce.

Monk: Any idea what kind of smoker they are working with here?

Speedy: No, but I have to assume it was a gasser, just based on the space the occupied. Not sure where they’d fit a stick burner in a crowded Chicago neighborhood.

Overall, the Smoke Daddy puts out a nice product. I think they purposefully feature the sauce in all of their dishes, which I think is a bit of a shame, as I think they do a good job with their smoke. So if you find yourself in Chicago with a hankerin’ for ‘cue, you could do worse than the Smoke Daddy

Ratings:
Atmosphere/Ambiance – Not rated (outdoor patio was nice, but I never went inside)
Pork – 3 hogs
Burnt Ends – 3 hog
Ribs – 3.5 hogs
Sides – 2 hogs
Overall – 3 Hogs
Smoke Daddy Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Friday Find: Who Has the Right to Make Barbecue?

A must-listen: authors John T. Edge and Nicole Taylor join the NY Times’ Jenna Wortham and Wesley Morris on their Still Processing podcast for more thoughtful discussions on barbecue and its cultural and historic implications.  Arrogant Swine gets a shout-out in each of the first two segments of the podcast before getting an eventual visit from the two hosts in the final segment.

Monk

Linkdown: 7/5/17

– The Battleground Ave location of Stamey’s will reopen in the next few weeks after a fire last summer and has even added a drive-thru

– A visit to Keaton’s Barbecue in Cleveland, NC near Statesville, known for their spicy chicken

– Keaton’s also gets a write up in this month’s Our State

– The Fayetteville Observer reviews Buddy’s Bar-B-Q, an eastern NC joint which opened 72 years ago in 1945

– Eater jumps on the “Charleston as a barbecue hotspot bandwagon”

– Stick with me here: Tim Carman of The Washington Post says that the brisket at Hill Country, which just recently switched off the gas assist on their Ole Hickory smoker, is “as good or better than Franklin’s”

– Austin 360’s Matthew Odam then takes exception to that statement

Look, I’ve never been to Hill Country barbecue in D.C., or the flagship in Manhattan opened by a man with Texas roots who modeled his restaurant on Kreuz Market in his family’s hometown of Lockhart. But I don’t need to to know that the brisket there, or anywhere in D.C., can’t touch that at Franklin Barbecue.

– The Washington Post then responds back immediately, calling Odam’s take “food chauvinism”

– Scott Moore, the pitmaster at Tejas Chocolate, writes about the experience After Texas Monthly, or ATM, when they were named a top 10 joint

– The Christian Science Monitor takes a macro view of barbecue today, starting from its roots up through this year’s Memphis in May competition

Barbecuing, of course, has always been bound up in the politics and race of the nation. Six years before colonists dumped tea in Boston Harbor to protest British tariffs, the royalist governor of North Carolina, William Tryon, tried to appease local militiamen by roasting a whole ox. The men responded by tossing the roast in the river, an act of affirmed loyalties hence referred to as the Wilmington Barbecue.

– Barbecue the film is available next week

Swig & Swine – Summerville, SC

IMG_9901
Name
: Swig & Swine
Date: 5/27/17
Address: 1990 Old Trolley Rd, Summerville, SC 29485
Order: 3 meat plate (pulled pork, brisket, and sausage) with hash & rice, collards, and mac & cheese (link to menu)
Price: $24 (for two)

Monk: I have a confession, dear readers, and not one that I like to readily admit: sometimes I do get sick of barbecue. It doesn’t happen often but it usually happens after I’ve had a particularly bad meal. After having 4 meals in 6 days on the Monk family vacation I was actually completely fine with hitting something quick on the road back to Charlotte so we could just get back to real life. The last meal at Smoke BBQ had broken my enthusiasm for the week, it would appear.

However, in an unexpected twist, Mrs. Monk had looked up reviews of Swig & Swine’s Summerville location and insisted that we stick to our original plan. Her enthusiasm helped push me and on we headed about 35 minutes from Mount Pleasant to Summerville, SC. Sometimes the missus really does just get me.

This Swig & Swine, unlike the West Ashley location that Speedy previously visited, has enough room to smoke whole hogs and that was the main draw for me. Besides that, they do go the “international house of barbecue” route with a little bit of everything in terms of smoked meats.

The pulled pork single-handedly restored my faith in barbecue after the disaster of a meal the day before. The lighter meat was pulled into long strands and dare I say, might I have enjoyed it a bit more than Rodney Scott’s BBQ? Perhaps so.

The brisket had well-rendered fat and a nice tug to it. While the whole hog was the main draw, I would just as soon as go back for the brisket.

The housemade sausage was another solid entry and at this point in the meal, Swig & Swine was running laps around my previous meal at Smoke BBQ. In Speedy’s review of the West Ashley location, sausage was by far his favorite part of the meal and I found it to be really juicy with a nice snap to the casing.

My hash & rice fascination continued at Swig & Swine and I realize should take better notes when it comes to hash, because the subtle differences are probably lost on me. Still, that plus the collards and mac & cheese really brought it.

Swig & Swine capped my trip off nicely with a great meal of barbecue. This was the fifth and last barbecue meal in seven days of vacation to and from Charleston – almost certainly the most amount of barbecue I’ve eaten out in a week-long stretch. There was only one real dud, and overall most of my other experiences were really positive. But after this trip, I’m not ashamed to admit that barbecue and I decided to take a little bit of a break from each other for a week or two – and a welcome one at that.

Ratings:
Atmosphere – 3.5 hogs
Pork – 4.5 hogs
Brisket – 4 hog
Sausage  – 4 hogs
Sides – 4 hogs
Overall – 4 hogs

Linkdown: 6/28/17

– A writer for the Virginian-Pilot tools around Greenville, NC and eats barbecue for breakfast, lunch, and dinner

– The legacy of Maurice Bessinger will live on the site of a former Piggie Park location despite a new owner’s wishes, specifically because Bessinger meant for it to

Unfortunately for Daras, he doesn’t own the flagpole-sized plot, though, because Bessinger sold the flag pole and the land it’s sitting on to a Confederate veterans’ group, precisely so he could ensure it would never be taken down.

– Sean Evans of First We Feasts Hot Ones, tries all of the barbecue at the Big Apple Barbecue Block Party

– Food & Wine on the culinary fusion happening in Texas barbecue

– The latest barbecue stops for Marie, Let’s Eat! are both in Chattanooga: Big Jeff Barbecue and Moe’s Original Bar-B-Que

The runners up to the Texas Magazine Top 50 BBQ list

– Relevant:

Smoke BBQ – Mount Pleasant, SC

IMG_9826
Name
: Smoke BBQ
Date: 5/26/17
Address: 713 Coleman Blvd, Mt Pleasant, SC 29464
Order: The Tommy B. Monster Sampler Platter (pork, pastrami brisket, “Charleston brisket”, chicken) plus “perfect rib” and a beer (link to menu)
Price: $35

Monk: I hadn’t planned to visit a fifth barbecue spot during our vacation week but when I saw how close Smoke BBQ was to our Airbnb in Mount Pleasant I couldn’t resist sneaking away one afternoon to check it out. Unfortunately it turns out I shouldn’t have wasted my time or money.

Since I was there I went for it and got the Tommy B. Monster Sampler platter which comes with 4 meats. I then added a “perfect rib” to round it all out. When my platter of meats was delivered each meat was sitting in a pool of grease and appeared to have been reheated. Fresh off the smoker these definitely were not. I won’t bother to go through each meat individually – but I will say that after a bite or two of each one I decided to move on, finding each to be as equally bad as the previous.

The “smoke style slaw” is their take on coleslaw and comes with green apples and candied pecans topped on red cabbage and carrots. I didn’t find it to be a successful barbecue side. The baked macaroni and cheese was the best food part of the meal and was the only real edible item for me.

There was very little that was redeeming about my meal from Smoke BBQ and I ended up tossing most of the takeout container in the trash once I got home. At least I got to enjoy a beer on their nice covered patio. So there’s that.

Ratings:
Atmosphere – 3 hogs
Pork – 1 hog
Brisket – 1 hog
Pastrami – 1 hog
Rib – 1 hog
Chicken – 1 hog
Sides – 1.5 hogs
Overall – 1 hog

Photo Gallery: Midwood Smokehouse’s new Park Road location

IMG_9960

It had been about 4 weeks since the latest location of Midwood Smokehouse opened in Park Road Shopping Center’s now bustling Back Lot. That’s about the amount of time I like to give new restaurants to work out their kinks so between that and Father’s Day weekend it made for the perfect occasion to check it out.

On a Friday night it was predictably busy, and owner Frank Scibelli mentioned that for this location they had ordered the largest capacity Oyler smoker available (the same manufacturer they use at all of their other locations). They aren’t cooking to capacity yet but at this location it shouldn’t be too long before they are close.

I tried most of the smoked meats this night via the Chef’s Choice Platter (off menu). The pork, brisket, pork ribs, and burnt ends I had all tried before – but this was my first time experiencing the pork burnt ends. If I’m recalling correctly, they are a Friday night special only and they’ve always been out when I had previously tried to order them. Speaking of specials, Midwood Smokehouse is now offering a beef rib, though only on Saturdays and Sundays so I wasn’t able to try it this night.

While the Ballantyne and Columbia locations of Midwood Smokehouse do smoke a whole hog quartered in their Oyler rotisserie smokers on certain days, the Park Road location is getting a BQ whole hog smoker (the eastern North Carolina brand used by Sam Jones as well as The Pit) delivered in mid-July. I couldn’t be more excited for that to come and to try Pitmaster Matt Berry’s take on whole hog. I plan to visit shortly after and will report back. Until then, you can expect more of the same from the new location of Midwood Smokehouse, and that definitely ain’t a bad thing.

Monk