Linkdown: 2/14/18

– The upcoming Randy’s Barbecue in Statesville will utilize a type of three-dimensional sign that was just approved by the city’s zoning ordinance in December

– The Michelin Guide to the 4 best barbecue restaurants in NYC includes Arrogant Swine’s eastern NC whole hog

– Tuffy Stone’s barbecue book gets a good review

– The more you know:

– A few photos from the late 50’s at the former Harrill’s Bar-B-Q in Charlotte

– A review of Prissy Polly’s in Kernersville

– Deets on a barbecue panel at SXSW 2018 in a few weeks

– The Whole Hog Barbecue Summit is Feb 24 in Kinston

– Can you find real barbecue in New Hampshire? Now that’s a question.

– Smaller menu, location in Plaza Midwood or Belmont or NoDa, and Cheerwine on the menu? WELL I’M INTERESTED:

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Linkdown: 2/7/18

– Not sure why this resurfaced recently (it originally posted in 2006) but a NC-born editor now living in Johnson City, TN implores “Never trust politicians who don’t eat barbecue”

– A Virginia barbecue movie is coming to Facebook

– Joe Haynes, featured in the movie above, has some thoughts on the word barbecue and *surprise surprise* he claims it traces back to Virginia

– J.C. Reid on the look of modern barbecue

– Food and Wine thinks Jim ‘N Nick’s Bar-B-Q is a southern chain that should be everywhere

– Welcome back Big Wayner to the world of barbecue blogging, and he comes back with a recap of his 2017

– Philadelphia Deli in Charlotte, which is in a building that a long time ago housed Harrill’s Bar-B-Q, is closing this Friday after an ugly legal dispute

– A great story

 

Linkdown: 1/31/18

– An oldie but goodie from Our State

 

– Travel and Leisure stops in Charleston and checks out the barbecue scene while they are there

Southerners have long nurtured a debate over whether Carolina-style pork or Texas-style brisket is the true king. Charleston has decided you can have it both ways. On Upper King Street, one year ago, Rodney Scott opened Rodney Scott’s BBQ, a brick temple to the low, slow, whole-hog style that put South Carolina barbecue on the map. Less than half a mile away, at Lewis Barbecue, you can sit in a gravel courtyard under the shade of a live oak and enjoy some of the best brisket in the country, Texas-style.

– John Shelton Reed has a guest post at Barbecue Bible to remind folks about True ‘Cue

– Guy Fieri recently spent some time filming “Diners, Drive-in’s, and Dives” in the Wilmington area and apparently learned some things while he was there:

When asked if he favored Eastern or Western North Carolina barbecue, Fieri said he pleaded the fifth.

– From last summer, Food and Wine on where to eat and drink in Charlotte includes Midwood Smokehouse

– Seoul Food Meat Co is one of the restaurants in Southend where you can eat lunch for less than $10

– Kathleen Purvis preaches on Charlotte barbecue

Linkdown: 12/20/17

– Newsday has a solid list of good barbecue in cities across North Carolina worth a “barbecue pilgrimage”

Although there’s fantastic barbecue found throughout the state, you don’t have to leave the state’s biggest cities for an unforgettable down-home barbecue meal. Instead, loosen your belt at any of these must-visit restaurants for a quintessential North Carolina experience.

– On their list of best Charlotte barbecue restaurants, Charlotte Agenda predictably got some feedback

– ICMYI

– Speaking of Texas barbecue…

– Food and Wine explores the Atlanta barbecue scene including some Barbecue Bros faves

– Greenville, NC native Bob Garner began a regular column for the Greenville Daily Reflector on Sunday in which he might occasionally touch on barbecue

I love to listen as people get downright misty-eyed about food. For me, it’s about rural landscape and seasons, community sense, celebration of finished tasks and observing solemn events.

Monk’s 10 Favorite Barbecue Meals of 2017

Trying something new: a year-end list for my favorite barbecue meals of the year. I used to do this for music, film, and tv but in recent years that has fallen off. Perhaps this will stoke the coals of my list-making motivation in other areas, but at the very least its worth documenting the hobby which has taken up so much of my (and my poor wife’s) free time for the past 5.5 years. Come to think of it, the timeline of this blog lines up almost perfectly with my drop off in listmaking…

In any case, hope you enjoy. This will conclude our reviews and original for 2017, but we will be back in 2018.

Monk

10. Swig & Swine – 4 hogs (review)

The Summerville location of Swig & Swine included a whole hog smoker (whereas their West Ashley location does not have enough space for one), following the popular trend of the past few years. The whole hog was quite good but their brisket and hash and rice wasn’t too bad either, 1990 Old Trolley Rd, Summerville, SC 29485 swigandswinebbq.com

9. Hill’s Lexington Barbecue – 4 hogs (review)

Hill’s claims to be the original “Lexington Barbecue” in name (but definitely not first to serve in that style). They may be a notch below the better places in Lexington, but they are certainly not doing the style any disservice. 4005 Patterson Ave, Winston-Salem, NC 27105 

8. Barbee’s Barbecue – 4 hogs (review)

This was truly a surprise for me. I kinda-sorta knew of this place and had passed by it many times , but I had no idea it would be (as I referred to it in my review) “the platonic ideal of the NC roadside barbecue shack”. A must visit, if only to step back in time a bit. Glenn Falls St, Peachland, NC 28133

7. Bill Spoon’s Barbecue – 4 hogs (review)

In 2017, I am happy to say that I rediscovered Bill Spoon’s after a few years away. It’s about as close as we have to a barbecue institution in Charlotte (54 years and counting), and though they are an eastern NC joint and I’m a Lexington-style fanboy, I simply believe that I need to go more often. 5524 South Blvd, Charlotte, NC 28217 spoonsbarbecue.com

6. Rodney Scott’s BBQ – 4 hogs (review)

While my expectations of the brand new Rodney Scott’s BBQ were sky high, I must say that the whole hog didn’t quite match the perfection of Scott’s BBQ back in Hemingway. Nevertheless, taking it for what it’s worth, we should all be glad that Rodney Scott has made his pork accessible without having to drive in the middle of the Pee Dee region of South Carolina. 1011 King St, Charleston, SC 29403 rodneyscottsbbq.com

5. Bar-B-Q King – 4.5 hogs (review)

Bar-B-Q King is another NC barbecue institution, though I only discovered it in early 2017. They do seem to be a little underrated on the NC barbecue scene despite smoking over wood for the past 46 years. Hopefully this will change. 2613 E Main St, Lincolnton, NC 28092 barbqkingnc.com

4. B’s Cracklin’ Barbeque – 4.5 hogs (review)

B’s Cracklin’ Barbeque was just named best restaurant in Atlanta by Eater (note no “barbecue” modifier), and for good reason. Bryan Furman is another one of the torch bearers of whole hog barbecue, but don’t sleep on his brisket or hash and rice. 2061 Main St NW, Atlanta, GA 30318 bscracklinbbq.com

3. Jon G’s BBQ – 4.5 hogs (review)

It appears that Jon G’s has taken a well-deserved break due to the birth of Garren and his wife Kelly’s first child, but I can’t wait until they are back out there slinging some legit Texas-style brisket out of their recently-purchased food truck. Marshville, NC facebook.com/JonGsBBQ

2. Lewis Barbecue – 4.5 hogs (review)

Unlike Rudy and Speedy, I hadn’t really had a taste of true Central Texas barbecue since I sadly haven’t made it out there since the start of the blog. That recently changed earlier this year because John Lewis (formerly of La Barbecue) brought central Texas to Charleston and I tasted is sublime brisket. All hail the king, apparently. 464 N Nassau St, Charleston, SC 29403 lewisbarbecue.com

1. Red Bridges Barbecue Lodge – 5 hogs (review)

In a year where I did not have a meal at Lexington Barbecue (my ride or die) Red Bridges is going to easily take the #1 spot on this list. Sadly, it had been nearly 4 years since my last visit but rest assured, it won’t be that long before my next. After 70+ years, they’ve still got it. 2000 E Dixon Blvd, Shelby, NC 28152 bridgesbbq.com

Honorable Mentions: The Smoke Pit – Salisbury, NC (review), DAS BBQ – Atlanta, GA (review)

Linkdown: 12/13/17

– Sad news as Midwood Smokeshack has closed in Matthews. However, there is some good news in that the employees will keep their jobs at other Midwood Smokehouse locations and FS Food Groupd will be looking to build a full service Midwood Smokehouse in the Matthews area at some point.

– D.G. Martin’s list of last minute book gifts includes one of my all-time favorite barbecue books which was just re-issued on paperback, “Holy Smoke: The Big Book of North Carolina Barbecue” by John Shelton Reed, Dale Volberg Reed, and William McKinney

– Charlotte Agenda: “Noble Smoke could give Charlotte a true barbecue flagship”

– However, one recently-elected city councilwoman will not be patronizing Noble Smoke when it does open due to his support of HB2 in 2015

– Carolina Smokehouse brings western NC barbecue to Carolina Beach’s boardwalk

– Congrats to B’s Cracklin’ BBQ!

Photo Gallery: Rough Draft Brewing Beer Dinner at Midwood Smokehouse Park Road

IMG_1057 (2)This past Wednesday night, I was invited by Sarah from Midwood Smokehouse (shouts to Sarah!) to a beer dinner featuring some California-inspired dishes which incorporated smoke in various ways paired with four beers from Rough Draft Brewing Company out of San Diego. I hadn’t previously had the pleasure of trying any beers from Rough Draft and the courses for this dinner were different from the usual barbecue beer dinner fare, so this would be a night of new experiences for me. Here’s the highlights:

Appetizers: Rock Shrimp Tostada, Bacon Wrapped Jalapenos, Jalapeno-Jack Cornbread paired with Weekday Session IPA

Now this was a great start to the dinner. My first bite of the evening was a good one – the crunch of the freshly fried corn tostada contrasted well with the acidity of the rock shrimp and ceviche. I had two of these. The bacon-wrapped jalapeno is a normal offering on the menu but this version featured a “queso Chihuahua”. Lastly, the cornbread topped with pulled pork and pico was good but ranked third in my passed app hierarchy (patent pending). The Weekday Session IPA was a smart move to not come out of the gate too hot.

First Course: San Diego Pier Taco paired with Grapefruit Weekday IPA
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A southern California classic – the fish taco. The grouper was fried in a beer batter made with the Grapefruit Weekday IPA mixed with ground corn into a maseca but was still light enough for a first course. The Grapefruit Weekday IPA is made from the same recipe as the session IPA but as the name implies, is infused with grapefruit. This tied in nicely with the grapefruit-avocado crema that topped the taco and the smoke in the dish came from the smoked tomato salsa. I could have had at least 2 more of these, but thankfully they didn’t allow that because I would have been too full for…

Second Course: Ancho Rubbed Tri-tip paired with Hop Therapy Double IPA
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My first taste of tri-tip. I don’t know this preparation compares to classic Santa Maria tri-tip (Midwood smoked over hickory as they do with all meats), but I do know that I really liked it and in particular the ancho rub. Midwood Smokehouse has previously featured it as a Barbecue Month special in years past and if its on the menu next May I may have to make a special trip out. As good as the tri-tip was, the sweet potato tamale was every bit its equal. Made from sweet potatoes from a Barbee Farms out of Concord, the use of sweet potato in a classic tamale presentation blew my mind. This course paired with the Hop Therapy Double IPA which was a more malt-forward double clocking in at 9%. Thankfully, they weren’t serving more than about a half pour because this guy was dangerously drinkable and I could see it sneaking up on me.

Third Course: Key Lime Rye Cake paired with Sea State Blackberry Rye Ale
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FS Food Group (the restaurant group owned by Frank Scibelli that owns Midwood Smokehouse among other concepts) recently hired a full-time pastry chef and while I unfortunately can’t recall her name, this rye cake with smoked blackberry sauce was her topper to the dinner. It paired nicely with the Sea State Blackberry Rye Ale.

Linkdown: 11/29/17

– A tiny new joint in the mountains of NC called The Tin Shed has opened on a farm in the tiny town of Spruce Pines

– RIP Douglas Oliver, longtime pitmaster at Sweatman’s Bar-B-Que

– Dino Philyaw, a former University of Oregon and Carolina Panthers football player originally from Dudley, NC, has brought (among other things) Eastern Carolina barbecue to Eugene

Dino Philyaw cooks all kinds of barbecue but he is partial to the type of vinegar and pepper sauce-based barbecue from eastern North Carolina, where he’s from.

– How our differences show our similarities

Even before I was old enough to be given my first rifle, I was aware of the difference between eastern and western N.C. barbecue. Eastern BBQ, strangely enough, was almost considered a foreign dish. More than one elder statesman from the Piedmont informed me that the sauce was indeed different — it could be “downright bitter!” Adding ketchup to slaw, furthermore, was just what one did. It complemented the sliced or chopped pork shoulder. With my provincial yet well-informed definition of barbecue and sides, I kept chomping away, whenever there was an opportunity to do so.

– A few long-but-not-forgotten barbecue restaurants get a brief mention in this Charlotte Five article on most missed Charlotte restaurants – Old Hickory House, Olde Original BBQ, Ol’ Smokehouse, Rogers Barbecue

– HECK YES:

Linkdown: 11/22/27

– Big news!

More coverage on Noble Smoke from the Charlotte Business Journal

– The LA Times has an easy guide to pairing beer with barbecue

– Re-opened yesterday

– A Texas man is the first pitmaster to make Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list

– More coverage from TMBBQ on Grant Pinkerton

– An Austin rag “takes the temperature” of the barbecue scene in Brooklyn and with one exception finds that it doesn’t quite add up to Austin

– Everyone has a dark past, and NC barbecue is certainly no different; it had a beef phase

The Improper Pig – Charlote, NC (RE-REVIEW)

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Name: The Improper Pig
Date: 11/3/17
Address: 110 S Sharon Amity Rd Charlotte, NC 28211
Order: The Cotswold Platter with pulled pork and smoked andouille with asian slaw and collards (link to menu)
Price: $14.99

Monk: Back in late 2014, Speedy and I checked out The Improper Pig within a few weeks of it opening and found it somewhat promising but that they were perhaps still working out the kinks that come with opening a new restaurant. Fast forward nearly 3 years later, and to paraphrase former Arizona Cardinals head coach Dennis Green, they are who we thought they were.

The restaurant interior has changed a bit in the past 3 years. Whereas it used to be dimly lit (which I recall made it hard to take decent photos), the restaurant is now much brighter inside. I also think they have become popular with families with kids, so it would make sense not to have it so dark inside.

I didn’t take a peek into the open kitchen this time around, but I assume The Improper Pig is still using a Southern Pride gasser. Out of it, they are still able to coax some decently smoky meats – pork and andouille sausage this time around for me – but its still not quite there in order to be one of the better barbecue restaurants in Charlotte.

As was the case on our first visit, they still get creative with their sides and many have a slight asian bent. Mrs. Monk and I did try a southern egg roll, but the texture inside was mostly mushy as it is just sweet potato hash and collards inside with a drizzle of hot asian mustard. Certainly not as well executed as the southern egg rolls I’ve tried from The Pit in Raleigh. The asian slaw was more or less a small salad with ginger dressing, though, and I regretted ordering it just a tiny bit. The collards were fine but perhaps overly spicy. While the sides were the best part of the last meal years ago, they didn’t measure up on this visit.

So where does this land us? The restaurant is kid-friendly and I could see myself trying their brisket and ribs next time but I won’t necessarily be in a rush to make it back out. The Improper Pig is still a pretty good concept but yet again the execution isn’t quite there for me.

Ratings:
Atmosphere – 3 hogs
Pork – 3 hogs
Sausage – 3 hogs
Sides – 2.5 hogs
Overall – 3 hogs
The Improper Pig Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato