Kepley’s Barbecue – High Point, NC

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Name: Kepley’s Pit-Cooked Barbecue
Date: 7/10/14
Address: 1304 N Main St., High Point, NC
Order: Chopped plate with fries, slaw, hush puppies (link to menu)
Price: $7.20

Speedy: I was recently in the home place of High Point during a work day, just working from my parent’s house. This seemed like as good a time as any to go back to my roots and grab some ‘cue from Kepley’s for lunch. It has been a long time since I had eaten at Kepley’s, as I generally make the drive to Lexington in lieu of eating High Point ‘cue, but after this meal, I think I’ll opt for Kepley’s more often.

Monk: You know, it’s sad to say that I’ve only eaten at Kepley’s once, and it was just 4 years ago. Sounds like I’ve been missing out on quality barbecue all these years.

Rudy: I’m the same, it was a couple of miles away from my house and I rarely went, however I always enjoyed it when I did go.

Speedy: The restaurant itself isn’t much more than a trailer – I’d be surprised if it could fit more than 30 people. But it is quaint and is exactly what you think of when you think of a traditional ‘cue joint. They do have a separate small smokehouse for smoking the pork shoulders and there was a large wood pile sitting outside the smokehouse – always a great sign.

Monk: So I’ve been missing out on wood smoked barbecue in my backyard all these years! And not 2 miles from our high school. Man, I feel like an idiot.

Speedy: One thing I love about these restaurants is the order process. As the menu at most Lexington style joints is pretty consistent, all I have to say is “chopped tray with hush puppies and a Cheerwine” and I’m good to go. The food is then served quickly and you’re ready to eat.

The pork at Kepley’s is really, really good. There’s just the right amount of smoke and bark. It’s clear these guys know what they’re doing. My serving was just a tad dry, but adding some extra dip provided on the table cleared that up immediately.

The sides are also very good. The slaw could use a little more tang (I add more dip here too, as well as some Texas Pete) and the fries are just your standard crinkle fries, but both are good. I’m not a huge fan of the pickle slices that come on top of the slaw, but they don’t really affect the flavor of the slaw once removed, so no harm done. The hush puppies at Kepley’s are perfect – definitely among the best you’ll find anywhere.

Monk: Well that’s settled. I’m definitely heading to Kepley’s next time I make it home.

Speedy: All in all, Kepley’s is a very good barbecue restaurant. If you moved it to the middle of Lexington, it would stack up well with the other joints in town. If you find yourself in downtown High Point, I’d say Kepley’s Barbecue is definitely the place to go to check out some ‘cue.

Ratings:
Atmosphere/Ambiance – 3.5 hogs
Pork – 4 hogs
Sides – 4.5 hogs
Overall – 4 Hogs
Kepley's Barbecue on Urbanspoon
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Heirloom Market BBQ – Atlanta, GA

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Name: Heirloom Market BBQ
Date: 6/27/14
Address: 2243 Akers Mill Rd., Atlanta, GA 30339
Order: Spicy korean pork with kimchi slaw, and brunswick stew (link to menu)
Price: $12

In advance of a recent long weekend to visit friends in Atlanta, our original plan was to go to Fox Brothers but after I consulted with Grant of Marie, Let’s Eat! on Twitter (who then wrote a funny letter to Mrs. Monk) we decided that Heirloom Market BBQ would be a better way to go. Not that Fox Brothers wouldn’t have been good (especially since Mrs. Monk and I could have used a beer or three after a 4 hour drive with a sometimes fussy 15 month old), but it probably wouldn’t have been as representative of Atlanta as Heirloom Market seeing as how Fox Brothers is a Texas-style joint.

Heirloom Market is located at the opposite end of a convenience store and doesn’t offer much in the way of seating other than an outdoor deck that is standing only. Diners can also take respite in the tent over a long rectangular table or in the shade next to their mobile smoker, as some did on this slightly steamy late-June afternoon. Also out back is the smokehouse, into which I periodically saw a worker carting pallets of split logs for smoking.

The spicy Korean pork comes in chunks as opposed to pulled or chopped. The platters come with a substantial bun so folks can make a sandwich with a portion of the meat and then finish the rest with a fork. I piled on the kimchi slaw and a little spicy korean sauce called “KB” and the resulting sandwich was a revelation. I hadn’t tasted any barbecue like this before, with the smokiness of the pork from the wood smoke mixing with the spicy korean sauce and the crunchy kimchi slaw. There are no words to express just how fantastic it was.

I was also able to taste both the regular pork and the brisket from Mrs. Monk and my buddy Jimbo. Mrs. Monk didn’t come close to finishing her pork platter, so naturally I obliged in helping her do so. I found it to have nice smokiness, good bark, moist texture. The brisket had a Texas-style black bark, but was a tad on the dry side that day. Still, both were fantastic albeit maybe a level below the spicy pork.

I already mentioned the kimchi slaw I had with the bread, and my second side was Brunswick stew; I’m not a huge Brunswick stew fan but “when in Georgia,” I figured. Though honestly, hot stew didn’t make a lot of sense on an hot day in June when I was already sweating due to the spicy pork, even if the stew did have chunks of smoky pork and obviously not frozen veggies. Worth getting, but preferably during the cooler months or if you take it back to home or work in AC. I also tried some of the collards, which were also quite good.

Even though I left a little bit sweaty due in equal parts to the spicy sauce as well as the fact that we found a spot on the deck where there wasn’t much shade, I left very satisfied. Maybe during our next trip down to Atlanta we will make it to Fox Brothers, but it was clear to me that we made the right choice in choosing Heirloom Market BBQ this time instead.

Monk

(For another review of Heirloom Market BBQ, check out Marie, Let’s Eat!)

Ratings:
Atmosphere/Ambiance – 4 hogs
Spicy Korean Pork – 4.5 hogs
Pork – 4 hogs
Brisket – 4 hogs
Sides – 4 hogs
Overall – 4.5 hogs

Heirloom Market BBQ on Urbanspoon

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Hometeam BBQ – Charleston, SC

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Name: Home Team BBQ
Date: 6/16/14
Address: 1205 Ashley River Rd., Charleston, SC
Order: Three meat platter (brisket, pork, ribs) with red rice and collards (link to menu)
Price: $18.25

I had heard a lot of great things about Home Team BBQ and owner/chef Aaron Siegel, so knew I had to check it out when I went with the fam to Charleston for a week. A recent Esquire article only confirmed my desire to check it out. A lazy afternoon presented the perfect opportunity to check it out with my Dad and Bro – two guys familiar with good ‘cue.

Upon arriving, I really enjoyed the atmosphere. Home Team has both indoor and outdoor seating and also has a nice bar. You order at the counter, and both the meat and the sides are sitting in steam trays and ready to be pulled (with the exception of the ribs, which are cut in the back). I found this to be a little bit of an odd presentation, and I’m not sure it helped the quality of the meal.

Digging in, I thought the pork lacked flavor – it was definitely moist (thanks to the steam trays), but I couldn’t really taste any seasoning or smoke on the meat. A lot of places like to “let the meat speak for itself” but I think truly great ‘cue needs to have that smoke flavor and a good rub only enhances it. The brisket was similar – moist, but in need of sauce. Home Team has several sauces – I stuck with the hot red – which helps, but overall, I was a little disappointed in the pork and brisket.

I had higher expectations for the ribs and while those lofty expectations weren’t quite met, I did enjoy them. I was first surprised that they were spare ribs, as I’d expect America’s best ribs to be baby back ribs, which I generally find to be more tender. The spare ribs were presented dry, and had a fair amount of seasoning, which I enjoyed. The ribs were fairly tender, and I did enjoy them, but best ribs in America, they are not.

The sides, on the other hand, were excellent. The collards were perfect and the red rice was enjoyable. The Bro said that the baked beans (which I didn’t sample) were the best he’d ever had, so that’s high praise. There were no hush puppies on the menu, which is always a disappointment, but each platter did come with corn bread muffins, which were also very good.

Overall, the meal at Home Team was a little underwhelming. So much so that I decided to walk around the building looking for a wood pile, as I didn’t think the food tasted wood-smoked. I did find said wood pile, so I think maybe the stream tray hid the smoke flavor. I don’t know much about the Charleston BBQ scene, but I think on my next trip, I’ll check out a new place instead of a return to Home Team BBQ.

-Speedy

Ratings:
Atmosphere/Ambiance – 4 hogs
Pork – 2 hogs
Brisket – 2.5 hogs
Ribs – 3 hogs
Sides – 4.5 hogs
Overall – 2.5 Hogs
Home Team BBQ on Urbanspoon
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R.O.’s Bar-B-Que – Gastonia, NC

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Name: R.O.’s Bar-B-Q
Date: 6/14/14
Address: 1318 Gaston Ave, Gastonia, NC 28052
Order: Minced bbq pork sandwich, hush puppies, half sweet/half unsweet tea (link to menu)
Price: $9.86

After Kyle Fletcher’s, Mrs. Monk was cool with us checking out R.O.‘s Bar-B-Q while we were in Gastonia. Because frankly, we don’t make the trip from Charlotte to Gastonia all that often (slash ever), so might as well take advantage of it. Well me, not so much her; she stayed in the car.

I won’t say it turned out to be a mistake, because at the very least I was able to cross another joint off our list. But it was not even close to being good.

The menu board at the register listed an “oven roasted pork” sandwich, so at least there were no illusions whether or not this was true barbecue. I ordered a barbecue sandwich, hush puppies, and slaw, only to be told that the slaw came on the sandwich. Cool, I thought, since the sides were all a la carte and the hush puppies alone were $2.25 on their own.

Little did I know that the “slaw” that comes on the sandwich is a sauce of what appears to be a thousand island and diced cabbage. Had I known, I would have asked for it on the side. It more or less made the sandwich inedible for me. I had maybe 3 bites before wrapping it back up to throw away.

At least the hush puppies were good – in fact, they were better than the ones we had just had at Kyle Fletcher’s. By far, the best part of the meal.

There must be something that keeps the folks coming to R.O.’s Bar-B-Q since it originally opened in 1946, but I’m not sure what it is. If you are looking for true barbecue in Gastonia, don’t come here. Their version of barbecue is some mutant hybrid that doesn’t fit the definition of traditional barbecue in any way. If you are looking for a good value, you probably shouldn’t come here either. My total was nearly $10, which was more than my meal at Kyle Fletcher’s, and for far less food. That being said, if you are looking for something you haven’t eaten before and likely won’t see too many other places, feel free to check out R.O.’s Bar-B-Q.

-Monk

(For another review of R.O.’s, check out Marie, Let’s Eat!)

Ratings:
Atmosphere/Ambiance – 2 hogs
Pork – 1 hog
Sides – 3 hogs
Overall – 1 Hog

R.O.'s Bar-B-Cue on Urbanspoon

R O'S Barbecue on Foodio54

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