Photo Gallery: Midwood Smokehouse’s new Park Road location

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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

Linkdown: 6/21/17

– Rodney Scott surprisingly smoked ribs instead of whole hog at this year’s Big Apple

– The Washington Post’s Jim Shahin has a list of favorite barbecue books this season, and it includes Elliott Moss’s “Buxton Hall BBQ Book of Smoke”

– I couldn’t disagree more but Charlotte Agenda refers to Bubba’s Barbecue as a “hidden gem”

– Whole hog in the most unlikeliest of places? Gravy’s got the scoop

– NC barbecue in Virginia at Willard’s BBQ in Reston

– The Houston Chronicle has an article on barbecue camps, focusing on the one at Texas A&M but with a passing mention of a few in NC (though it mistakenly mentions that the NC State Barbecue Camp only started this year; this was its second third year)

– The Smoking Ho has some nice barbecue photos from his quick trip to LA

– What else would you expect from an Alabaman?

Linkdown: 6/14/17

– The latest in the News & Observer Good Eatin’ series is a look at B’s Barbecue in Greenville

At some point in the late ’80s, the road on the side of the restaurant took on its name, but spelled “B’s Barbeque Road” with a “q.” To little surprise, the sign has gone missing several times. B’s Barbeque Road is the first left turn when coming into Greenville from the west on U.S. 264.

– City Barbeque opens its University location June 19 with a grand opening party on June 24

– The NC Blueberry Festival BBQ Cookoff, part of the Whole Hog Barbecue Series, is this weekend in Burgaw

– Bacon-wrapped bacon:

– Marie, Let’s Eat! finds some decent barbecue in Chattanooga in Big Jeff Barbeque

– Zagat’s and The Huffington Post has 12 pitmasters you need to know as part of their BBQ Nation microsite

– The Chicago Tribune is updating daily in June for 30 days of Chicago barbecue

– Robert Moss will be part of a hash panel in Greenwood, SC on July 7

The making of kettle-cooked hash is a culinary tradition unique to the Palmetto State, according to food and drink writer and culinary historian, Robert F. Moss.

“It’s something you can only get in South Carolina,” Moss said. “It’s one of the great barbecue stews. It’s sort of like a really delicious, thick, slow-simmered meat gravy.

“It really developed in South Carolina as part of fall hog-killing time, as a way to use up all the pieces and parts of the hog,” Moss added.

– SC is home to 4 different barbecue sauces: here’s recipes for each

– Happy belated Bojangles Day, you guys!

Linkdown: 5/31/17

– Helen’s Bar-B-Q makes a big impression on Marie, Let’s Eat!

– They also quite liked Papa KayJoe’s BBQ in Centerville, TN though they are currently operating with a different smoker due to a fire

– National Geographic’s list of best barbecue in America runs through a few options in several barbecue locales

– From 2013, Relish Magazine has their own list of the 10 best barbecue restaurant that was clearly tweeted out for Memorial Day

– Honorable mentions for the TMBBQ Top 50 inclues the meats, desserts, and atmosphere that didn’t quite make the list

– Jim N’ Nick’s has opened in Mount Pleasant

– Sauceman’s has expanded both its building and its hours and Charlotte Agenda has the details on that as well as their grand reopening this Friday that will feature two whole hogs

– While the NCAA investigation of UNC reaches its 7th year, there’s at least this:

Linkdown: 5/24/17

– The 2017 TMBBQ Top 50 is here and Snow’s overtakes Franklin in the number one spot

– The Smoking Ho was a lucky contributor to the list and wrote a little about his experience

– JC Reid of the Houston Chronicle has some thoughts on the list as well

– Not to be outdone, the top 10 barbecue restaurants in New Orleans

– La Barbecue’s trailer could be set up in Los Angeles by September after moving to their permanent Austin location

– Midwood Smokehouse and Seoul Food both have some of the best fried dishes in Charlotte

– Congrats to Mac’s Speed Shop for winning second place in whole hog at Memphis at May this past weekend

– I’m composing this from my iPhone but some photos from my vacation thus far

City Barbeque – Charlotte, NC

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Name: City Barbeque
Date: 5/6/17
Address: 11212 Providence Rd W, Charlotte, NC 28277
Order: Judge’s Sampler (pulled pork, brisket, 1/2 slab ribs, and 1/4 chicken) with mac and cheese, collard greens, hush puppies, and two beers (link to menu)
Price: $12 (the $26.99 judges platter was covered but did not affect my review in any way)

Monk: City Barbeque is an Ohio-based chain that in the past 2 years has begun to make inroads into NC and even more recently, Charlotte. The Ballantyne location was the first in the area to open in 2016, and since then a Matthews location has opened with a University location on the way later this year. Speedy had previously checked out the Cary location a few years back and came away fairly impressed, so I knew to expect a fast casual set up with decent barbecue from a gas-assisted wood smoker and scratch made sides. 

For the first Charlotte location, I was invited to check it out and provided a gift card for a free Judge’s Sampler which allowed me to check out 4 of the meats. Mrs. Monk and I got an extra side of hush puppies and a couple of beers on top of it, plus a kids meal for the Monk-ette. All in all, the amount of food we got ended up providing more than enough for 3 total adult meals, so the portion sizes are nice.

The pork and brisket were in small portions next to each other on the tray and were so hard to distinguish between each other that at first glance to the point where I wasn’t sure that we had gotten any brisket at all (we were initially missing our order of hush puppies so it wasn’t too far fetched). Though I will say the folks at City Barbeque were nice enough to provide us extra brisket even though clearly it was a mistake on our end. As for the meat, both were decently smokey. The pork was moist and was nicely accentuated by the spicy vinegar sauce on the table. The brisket was haphazardly sliced and came across as chopped in texture – which led to our mistake in the first place – but was tasty nonetheless.

I found the half slab of ribs to be the best meat of the meal. The heavily-applied rub created a dark, flavorful bark on the ribs and the meat pulled away from the bone nicely. I would go for these ribs here again for sure.

Chicken is not a smoked meat I normally go for (and I didn’t think to substitute it out on this visit) but I will say that it was pretty good. You could do a lot worse if that is the meat you prefer at a barbecue restaurant.

Mrs. Monk was disappointed that the mac and cheese was not baked (she’s a bit of a snob that way) and while I didn’t mind that fact as much as she did, I could see her point. The collards had plenty of pulled pork and were pretty good. The corn bread and Texas toast that came with the sampler were actually quite good but the hush puppies were the best sides we had. Needless to say, we were fine on carbs for the rest of the day (and weekend for that matter).

When it opens, the University location will be pretty convenient to my work and I wouldn’t have to be convinced too hard to go there for lunch. In terms of chains I’ve had, City Barbeque are on par with Jim ‘N Nick’s and way above Moe’s Bar-B-Que.

Ratings:
Atmosphere – 3 hogs
Pork – 3.5 hogs
Brisket – 3.5 hogs
Ribs – 3.5 hogs
Chicken – 3 hogs
Sides – 3 hogs
Overall – 3.5 hogs

Linkdown: 5/17/17

Happy belated National Barbecue Day!

– Jim Shahin steps back and looks ahead to the future of barbecue not just in NC but in other barbecue capitals across the country

One weekend last October, some of the nation’s top young pitmasters gathered on a pig farm just outside Durham, N.C., to participate in an event called the N.C. Barbecue Revival.

On undulating farmland, the cooks, veiled in wood smoke, tended their creations while Duroc and Berkshire pigs trundled freely in the surrounding woods. Without setting out to, these pitmasters — they’re all in their 30s and opened their places in just the past few years — were making a statement: that the next generation of barbecue has arrived.

– Aaron Franklin in Bloomberg (huh?): Eight Things You’re Doing Wrong When You Go Out for Barbecue

– The story of how Heirloom Market Bar-B-Que came to be

– Grant continues his Memphis barbecue trip at Pollard’s Bar-B-Q and ended up digging the side of barbecue spaghetti

– Kosher barbecue festivals are starting to pop up in cities in the south like Memphis, Atlanta, and Charlotte

– Tickets are now available for a Lenny Boy Brewing and Midwood Smokehouse beer and barbecue dinner

Join Lenny Boy Brewing’s Owner and Founder, Townes Mozer, and Midwood Smokehouse Pitmasters in a three course beer pairing event. Sip on Lenny Boy’s famouse Citraphilia IPA, Burndown Brown English Style Brown Ale, and a small batch suprise created special for this evening while enjoying a three course slow smoked menu coming soon.

– How a small town north of Fort Worth, TX became a barbecue destination

– Daniel Vaughn screencapped the barbecue scenes from Master of None season 2

– Cheerwine’s 100th birthday celebration is this Saturday in Salisbury and includes a barbecue competition; more details here:

Dan Good Que (food truck) – Charlotte, NC

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Name
: Dan Good Que
Date: 4/21/17
Order: Pulled pork barbecue plate with coleslaw and baked beans (link to menu)
Price: $9.50

Monk: When we started this blog almost 5 years ago, the original intent for me and Speedy (when he was still living in town) was to find the best barbecue in Charlotte once we realized we were each too much of a barbecue snob to depend on suggestions from Yelp. In the time since, I’ve had some very good barbecue in Charlotte and I’ve had some that is not so good – all in the name of being as exhaustive and thorough as possible.

I do try to be as positive as possible when reviewing barbecue, focusing on other more positive aspects to the experience (plus, Speedy is better at being snarky than I am). Our friend Grant at Marie, Let’s Eat! is a really good example of focusing on the positive, but then again his posts aren’t reviews as much as they are chapters within a larger, ever-continuing story.

Dan Good Que is a new-ish food truck that’s begun popping up in Charlotte and I tried it at the same weekly food truck festival where I tried Rocky Top BBQ Company a few weeks earlier. I may have been a bit harsh on Rocky Top and in the spirit of continuous improvement, let me simply say that I was disappointed in the lack of smoke in the chopped pork on this day from Dan Good Que. The cole slaw and baked beans were middling and while this may seem a little bit of a backhanded compliment, I imagine mixing all 3 would have created a perfectly acceptable barbecue sundae.

I am open to giving Dan Good Que another try at a later date but will be sure to give them enough time to work out the kinks. Here’s hoping they do.

Ratings:
Atmosphere – N/A
Pork – 1 hog
Sides – 2 hogs
Overall – 1.5 hogs

Linkdown: 5/10/17

– We are honored to be recently added to the list of patrons of True ‘Cue alongside our buddy Grant from Marie, Let’s Eat

– Grant tries a “catfish” sandwich from Scott’s-Parker’s BBQ, which is not a fish sandwich as you might expect based on the name

– Not a good look, pt 2: An update on the Smithfield’s v Raleigh PD story, which may have been greatly embellished

– Good news from our new-ish Charlotte #1: Jon G’s BBQ is getting a food trailer

– One of the things you may not have known about Cheerwine (but probably did if you grew up in NC): Cheerwine is often the number one or two brands sold at BBQ restaurants

– Three Wilson men were honored by the Chamber of Commerce last week

While the trio don’t date back to Parker Barbecue’s opening in 1946, they have been a part of the iconic restaurant on U.S. 301 for more than a century collectively. Williams joined the staff in 1963 as a waiter before heading into the kitchen to cook ‘cue alongside one of the original owners, Ralph Parker. He stepped into an ownership role in 1987, eventually bringing Lamm and Lippard along for the ride. Lippard started working in the kitchen in his twenties while Lamm started in 1985.

– Speaking of Parker’s, Our State Magazine tweeted out their profile of them back in 2013

– Could barbecue be why Seymour Johnson Air Force Base near Goldsboro came to be? That’s apparently how the story goes, according to writer Julian Pleasants

And, Pleasants writes with a smile, the Seymour Johnson air base came about when “the War Department, in search of delicious eastern North Carolina barbecue,” designated the municipal airport near Goldsboro “as essential to national defense.”

– Some of our favorite pitmasters – Sam Jones, Elliott Moss, John Lewis, among others – will be in Greenville, SC in September for a barbecue brunch as part of Euphoria Greenville

– The new Whole Foods store in south Charlotte is having a barbecue and bluegrass opening on May 20; no word on where the barbecue is from

– The latest location of Midwood Smokehouse opens Thursday, May 18

– Charlotte Agenda includes dishes from Bar-B-Q King, Bill Spoon’s, and Art’s Barbecue & Deli on this list of 50 must-try Charlotte cheap eats under $10

Photo Gallery: A Free Range Pig Pickin’ with Sam Jones

For the second year running, Free Range Brewing and Order/Fire combined powers to host a premiere screening of an episode of the web series with a pig pickin’ to follow. While last year’s episode featured four NC breweries (Burial Beer Co., Fonta Flora Brewery, Fullsteam Brewery, and Free Range Brewing), this year’s episode was on Sam Jones and Skylight Inn. Sam joined the festivities and smoked a 230 pound hog the night before for the pig pickin’. The whole shindig and its $10 suggested donation for the barbecue benefited the Community Culinary School of Charlotte, so there was an abundance of reasons to make it out to Free Range on a Sunday afternoon.

The 40 or so minute episode of Order/Fire was primarily a discussion between Sam and host Mark Jacksina that took place at Skylight Inn with topics ranging from the history of Sam’s family and barbecue to his first experiences gaining exposure outside of Ayden and his involvement with the Fatback Collective. It was a casual conversation between the two, with Sam peppering in his usual mix of one-liners and idioms. The packed house enjoyed the screening and you can view it here once it is made available online.

Now the first time I tasted Sam Jones’s barbecue, it was at when he smoked a whole hog at Midwood Smokehouse’s Southern ‘Cue Supper in 2013 and the whole hog literally (actually figuratively) blew my mind. I had not yet tasted cracklin’ skin mixed in with whole hog barbecue and absolutely loved that texture. The whole thing was a “revelatory experience” I hadn’t been able to try in the 3.5 years since. That is, until this day, and it definitely did not disappoint in the slightest. I’m still thinking about that pork as I type this, as a matter of fact.

Afterwards, I made a resolution: I will visit Skylight Inn and Sam Jones BBQ in 2017. Mark it down.