Despite the incendiary words against Lexington-style barbecue (as well as a few mis-truths about beef and mustard), “More Than a Flavor” is well-produced 25-minute documentary that details the history of eastern NC barbecue (from the Wayne County Government nonetheless!). It even has a nice breakdown of the barbecue family tree for eastern style starting with Arnold Sasser, something which I hadn’t personally seen detailed out before – unlike the Lexington-style tree starting from Sid Weaver and Jess Swicegood I’m so familiar with.
The documentary also details the pork industry that is so big in Wayne County, and which nicely lends to the barbecue history in the area.
Description: Learn about the history of BBQ in Wayne County and across Eastern North Carolina in this documentary, More Than A Flavor!
Name: R&R Bar- B-Que Date: 3/1/19 Address: 755 Pitts School Rd NW, Concord, North Carolina 28027 Order: Small Brakeman’s BBQ tray with red slaw and hush puppies, small brisket sandwich (no bread), Cheerwine (link to menu)
Monk: There are really only a handful of “old school” style barbecue joints in the Charlotte area. And by that, I’m not talking about anything with a full-service bar or that doubles as a diner or even open for a certain number of years. When you think about an old-school feel, Bill Spoon’s Barbecue and Bubba’s BBQ are two restaurants that have history and fit the bill. As does R&R Bar-B-Que, a train-themed barbecue restaurant in Concord. Curiously, all three serve eastern NC-style barbecue, as I had noted in my previous review.
On a rainy Friday, I checked out R&R for the second time since my only visit a little over 5 years ago. This time, I liked it a bit more. I speculated that they smoked with some sort of gas or electric smoker not aided by wood (a la an Ole Hickory or Southern Pride), and according to the NC BBQ Map that appears to be the case. No surprise, since there wasn’t any smoke wafting around the parking lot on either of my lunchtime visits. Still, the barbecue that was presented was nicely chopped and moist. A few dashes of the hot vinegar sauce didn’t hurt, either.
The beef brisket, a Tuesday and Friday special, was another story. I ordered only out of morbid curiosity and not because I expected it to be any good. My concerns were validated a couple of bites in so I didn’t feel the need to finish my portion.
R&R does nail their red slaw, a pretty perfect representation of a Lexington vinegar-based slaw. It had the right balance of sweetness to tang and was served properly chilled. The hush puppies tilted more to the savory end of the savory-sweet spectrum but were still solid. Finally, they offer Cheerwine from the fountain, as every proper barbecue joint should (unless they have it in bottles, of course).
So R&R Bar-B-Que is still not essential barbecue, but for Charlotte its not bad and ably fills the niche of an old school barbecue joint.
The “Milestone” Edition: In this week’s linkdown, we have links on a new barbecue restaurant opening, a big expansion of an existing one, plus Chef Vivian Howard’s favorite eastern NC barbecue restaurants and a milestone birthday for the city of Charlotte.
Congrats to Sweet Lew’s BBQ on finally opening today!
Chef Vivian Howard, a NC State grad who just finished her acclaimed PBS show “A Chef’s Life”, grew up in eastern NC and lives there now. You can bet she definitely knows her stuff when it comes to eastern NC barbecue.
That’s why your traditional view is what I argued in my 1995 first book. It sold a ton of copies in hardback, far more than any of my subsequent books, and nearly all of them were sold in-state.
But, I have to accept that “North Carolina Barbecue: Flavored by Time” is now out of print. We can only visit the memory and greatness of those places at Rocky Mount’s park display commemorating the city’s barbecue heritage.
I could insist on continuing to scribble history books many people won’t buy. Not many among them seem to read history any longer. Doomed to repeat it? I don’t know.