Linkdown: 3/15/17

– Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim to receive barbecue and a subscription to Our State Magazine (among other items) for his comments on Greensboro “adding no value” in hosting the ACC Tournament

– A review of the Barbecue documentary film

– TMBBQ has a post about the Texas smokehouses and barbecue pits of the 20th century

– Marie, Let’s Eat! finds Bears Den BBQ in Ocoee, TN to be similar to Herb’s in Murphy, NC

– A short film on Scott’s-Parker’s Barbecue from the Southern Foodway Alliance

– This article from the Washington Post’s Jim Shahin covers Heirloom Market BBQ among others

Old Brick Pit Barbeque – Chamblee, GA

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Name
: Old Brick Pit Barbeque
Date: 2/15/2017
Address: 4805 Peachtree Rd, Chamblee, GA 30341
Order: Combination platter (pork, ribs) with brunswick stew, slaw (link to menu)
Price: $13

Speedy: Old Brick Pit Barbeque is an old school joint that is just a couple miles north of where I moved in Atlanta. Despite driving by it many times, I never stopped until a recent February evening. Walking in, Old Brick Pit looks like it would fit right in Lexington, so I definitely felt at home. But would the food stack up?

Monk: I know that Marie, Let’s Eat! is a big defender of this place as a good representation of the definitely-not-a-catchall-term “Georgia barbecue”. As I passed by this place leaving Speedy’s place last August, I realized just how close it was. I’ve been really curious how he’d receive it.

Speedy: Of course I ordered a combination platter so I could taste both the ribs and pork and as a bonus, it came with Brunswick stew. The platter was ready shortly after ordering.

The pork was interesting – it came topped with a red barbecue sauce (with more on the side). But the pork was tender and tasty, and I think the sauce actually added an interesting flavor. This was, by a country mile, the best part of the meal. In fact, if I go back to Old Brick Pit, I’ll stick to a barbecue sandwich – available for only $3.

Monk: Based on your description, this sounds a bit like the late Old Hickory House here in Charlotte, which was a Georgia style joint of the chain which only has one location left in Tucker. I was never a huge fan of the tangy sauce that topped the barbecue, but could appreciate that it was a different style than I was accustomed to.

Speedy: Good call, Monk. It did sort of remind me of Old Hickory House. And I’ve been to the one in Tucker – it was not very good. I thought the Charlotte one (RIP) was much better.

As you might have guessed, the ribs were just not good. They were way, way, way overcooked and seem like they had been boiled prior to smoking. The meat was almost soggy. It had OK flavor, but not good enough to make up for the overcooking.

Monk: Seems like the ribs were the favorite of Marie, Let’s Eat! And Burgers, Barbecue and Everything Else. Odd that it was not so great for your visit. Next you’re going to say that you weren’t a fan of the brunswick stew…

Speedy: The brunswick stew was OK, but a little lacking in flavor. I didn’t try the slaw since it was mayo based.

Monk: Well ok, then.

Speedy: Overall, I was disappointed in the Old Brick Pit. I might return for a quick sammie sometime, but I won’t be taking any out of town visitors over.

For more reviews of Old Brick Pit Barbeque, check out
Marie, Let’s Eat!
Burgers, Barbecue and Everything Else

Ratings:
Atmosphere – 3.5 hogs
Pork – 3 hogs
Ribs – 1.5 hogs
Sides – 2 hogs
Overall – 2.5 hogs
Old Brick Pit Barbeque Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Old Brick Pit

Linkdown: 2/22/17

– Congrats to chef/pit master Elliott Moss on his James Beard nomination for Best Chef: Southeast

– Could he win it like Aaron Franklin did two years ago?

– Marie, Let’s Eat! (the blog) turned 7 so they counted down the best barbecue in East Tennessee since they moved there last year

– Thrillist has a list of the most iconic restaurants in every state (and DC), which includes barbecue restaurants for NC and SC both

– Though Kathleen Purvis from the Charlotte Observer thinks maybe they should have looked past barbecue restaurants for each state

– Nice shot:

– Barbecue (the documentary film) will be the very first film premiering at SXSW

-The True Cue guys are at it again, trying to make the fourth Monday in February a new barbecue-related NC holiday

But Reed and Levine also educate us about the connection between politics and barbecue. Their search for such connections took them all the way back to late February of 1766 when “the Royal Governor of North Carolina, William Tryon, attempted to win the New Hanover militia’s good will by treating them to a barbecue. He did not succeed: citizens of Wilmington threw the barbecued ox in the river and poured out the beer. (This was not an early expression of North Carolinians’ preference for pork; they were upset about the Stamp Act.)”

Reed and Levine explain that this “expression” of discontent with British authority came seven years before “the Boston Tea Party of 1773, when some rowdy New Englanders threw boxes of tea in Boston harbor to protest a British tax.”

– From BBQ Hub

Linkdown: 2/8/17

– You’ve got two days left to vote in this very important poll

– More on Mobile, AL’s The Brick Pit being saved by both social media as well as faith

– The latest stop for Marie, Let’s Eat! is Spencer B’s BBQ just south of the Tennessee-Georgia line and it contains some of his discussion with Speedy from their visit to B’s Cracklin’ Bar-B-Q on New Year’s Eve (pardon the long block of text)

I suggested that a big reason I’ve been so disappointed with the options around Chattanooga is that barbecue in Georgia can be so radically different everywhere and anywhere you go that it’s impossible to get bored, and incredibly difficult to predict what any new place will be like. The flavor profiles, the sauces, the techniques, these can all vary spectacularly in the same small town.

Speedy wasn’t ready to agree with that. After all, he grew up eating Lexington-style pork and slaw trays in central North Carolina, and it’s certainly true that in my limited experience, not just in Lexington itself but in the whole Greensboro-Salisbury corridor, you don’t see variety with quite the broad brush that I’m talking about there. So it’s certainly possible that what I’m finding in eastern Tennessee is what comes naturally in other places: people who’ve lived here for decades grow up perfecting a style which draws inspiration from what’s in the community already.

The problem, to put it delicately, is that Lexington-style barbecue is a million, billion times yummier than what’s going on in eastern Tennessee and northwestern Georgia.

– Charleston Eater takes a sneak peek at Rodney Scott’s BBQ in Charleston, which is so dang close to opening

– Here’s a closer look at the menu from Charleston City Paper; while people may have complained, when it opens Rodney Scott’s pork by the pound price will be right in line with the average in Charleston

– In case you missed Andrew Zimmern’s Bizarre Foods, he went to a few barbecue joints in the southeast – including Fox Bros BBQ, Buxton Hall Barbecue, and Shealy’s BBQ

– First We Feast is just asking for a fight from all of the different barbecue factions

The Best Barbecue We Ate in 2016

Whole hog pulled pork plate

Whole hog pulled pork plate from Buxton Hall Barbecue

Q: What was the best barbecue (new or old) that you ate in 2016?

Monk: 

  • Whole hog barbecue from Buxton Hall Barbecue, Asheville – It’s simply a revelation that you can find true eastern NC/Pee Dee whole hog in the mountains of NC. I can’t wait to get back to Buxton Hall.
  • Lamb belly from Hometown Bar-B-Que, New York – I didn’t quite know what to expect with lamb belly. It was pulled similar to their pork but had completely different flavor profile. I don’t know where else I might be able to try it again that’s a little closer to home but I want to in 2017.
  • Hash and rice from True BBQ, West Columbia, SC – Grant of Marie Let’s Eat! said it best about the hash and rice from this West Columbia joint which opened in 2011: “It’s two-hundred mile hash.”

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Speedy:

  • Brisket from B’s Cracklin’ Barbeque, Atlanta – From review: “The seasoning was amazing, and the meat was tender and juicy. Overall, this was in the upper echelon of briskets that I’ve tasted.”
  • Beef rib from Hometown Bar-B-Qu, New York (above) – From review: “It was seasoned well, providing some bark on the outside, and was cooked to perfection – tender but not overly so.”
  • Chopped pork from Lexington Barbecue – Every year.

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Rudy:

  • Brisket and sausage sandwich from Black’s Barbecue, Austin (above) –   From review: “And it was amazing, because the fat from the brisket was soaked up by the bun, giving it a rich moist taste. The spice from the jalapenos also gave the sandwich some great flavor.  The brisket was the same great brisket you are accustomed to getting from Black’s, as was the sausage. “

What was the best barbecue you ate in 2016?

B’s Cracklin’ Barbeque – Atlanta, GA

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Name
: B’s Cracklin’ Barbeque
Date: 12/31/2016
Address: 2061 Main St NW, Atlanta, GA 30318
Order: Sampler platter (pork, ribs, chicken) add brisket, fried okra, collards (link to menu)
Price: $25

Speedy: So it’s no secret that I’ve been a little slack in my barbecue eating since moving to Atlanta. So when Grant from Marie, Let’s Eat! reached out to me letting me know he and Marie (along with their boychild) would be in town on Saturday and asking if I were interested in meeting up for a meal, I jumped at the chance. Grant and Marie used to live in Atlanta, so are very in-tune with the culinary scene, including the ‘cue. Grant suggested that we meet at B’s Cracklin’ Barbeque and after reading his review, I was pumped to check it out.

Monk: Big thanks to Grant and co for dragging Speedy back into the land of barbecue blogging. And let me be the first to say that I can’t wait to see how this visit turned out.

Speedy: I arrived mere minutes before Grant, Marie, and the boychild, and we walked in at 5 pm on New Year’s Eve to find ourselves the only patrons. Grant greeted pitmaster Bryan “B” Furman on the way in, a good sign for sure.

Monk: I’m a little shocked that you were the only folks in there, but I’m assuming that has more to do with New Year’s Eve because everything I’ve read about B’s since its September opening has been supremely positive.

Speedy: Definitely, Monk. And I think there were plenty of people there for lunch, leading to a brisket shortage. But more on that later. Walking in, B’s has an old-school feel with plenty of seating, a big outdoor space, and a counter to place the order. I could smell the smoke upon walking in – not in an overpowering way, but in a way that made my mouth water. Obviously I ordered as much meat as possible on one plate, along with collards and fried okra, while Grant went with the two meat plate (pork and brisket) with a double order of the hash and rice (bold move, Grant). The staff informed us that they were out of brisket for the day, apparently a pretty common occurrence. Our disappointment was short-lived, as pitmaster Bryan told us that he could carve some directly off the smoker for us, as long as we don’t tell anyone. (We didn’t at the time, but now you know the secret loyal readers – blogging pays off.)

The meal was delivered shortly, and we eagerly dug in. Let me say this first off – I had enough food to feed three people easily – portions were not skimpy by any means.

I’ll start with what was my favorite portion – the brisket. Being carved fresh off the smoker, I could tell we got a little extra outside (bonus!). Also, it definitely came from the point of the brisket, as it was on the fatty side. Not that this is a complaint at all – the brisket was absolutely delicious. The seasoning was amazing, and the meat was tender and juicy. Overall, this was in the upper echelon of briskets that I’ve tasted. I’m curious as to what this tastes like in a normal setting, but overall, I was really pleased with a meat that is hard to find done well in these parts.

The pork at B’s is whole hog, which is also rarely found in Georgia. The meat here was also plenty tender, but came unsauced, making it slightly dry. At B’s, there are two sauces on the table – a spicy vinegar and a peach mustard. Normally, I would immediately douse the ‘cue in spicy vinegar, but Grant just raved about the peach mustard, so that’s what I tried first. Despite my well known aversion to mustard on pork barbecue, this stuff was excellent. It’s not anything like the traditional SC mustard sauce, but is rather quite sweet without the expected tang. I ended up having a conversation with Bryan about this sauce while eating – more on that later. Of course I tried the spice vinegar as well. Adding this to the whole hog pork would let it stack up favorably to nearly anything I’ve had in eastern NC. If I had to nitpick (and I do), I would love for some cracklin’ to be included in the pork to give it a little more texture, and I feel it would be fitting given the name. But I would definitely consider the pork and brisket “must orders” at B’s.

Monk: I am shocked (shocked!) to hear that Speedy willingly tried a mustard sauce on his pork. I think this shows real growth. Well done, Speedy.

Speedy: Only  because of the recommendation, Monk. The ribs were also very good. B’s serves big, meaty dry spare ribs that have been seasoned to near perfection. They were cooked perfectly – not too tender to fall off the bone, but well enough that you got an easy, clean bite. I personally prefer baby back ribs, but I can’t say I’ve had too many spare ribs that are better. I didn’t end up adding any sauce to my ribs, but would consider seeing how the peach mustard would taste on it. Overall, though, none was needed.

The chicken was also smoked perfectly and seasoned really well. The plate came with a quarter chicken, including the wing. The skin tasted smoky and good, and the chicken was tender without being dry. As a barbecue lover, this is never my top meat choice, and it isn’t at B’s either, but it was still very enjoyable.

The sides at B’s are also quite good. The fried okra had a really tasty seasoning on it, and the collards (made with turkey) are quite flavorful. I didn’t try Grant’s hash and rice (he offered, but I stupidly declined), but it looked fantastic. I think I’ll try that out next time.

Monk: I will say, hash and rise is becoming one of those dishes that I am becoming more and more interested in. With Grant getting a double order, sounds like it’s a dish I definitely need when we go to B’s next time I’m in Atlanta. Along with everything else you ate because it all sounds pretty darn good. At the very least, we could basically get the same order and you’ll just have less leftovers.

Speedy: I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about how nice of a guy pitmaster Bryan is. He came and spoke with us for quite a while during our meal. To me, the most interesting piece was his upcoming partnership with Heinz for a mustard sauce (not the peach mustard – they wanted that recipe, but Bryan wouldn’t give it to them). Bryan said the sauce the ended up with is close, but not quite the same. He mentioned that it is a sweet mustard sauce, though (“it had to be sweet if I was going to put my name on it”). I’m looking forward to trying it!

At the end of the day, this was by far the best barbecue I’ve had in Georgia. It’s good to have a go to place to take visitors. Bryan, I’ll be seeing you again soon!

Ratings:
Atmosphere – 3.5 hogs
Brisket – 4.5 hogs
Pork – 4.5 hogs
Ribs – 4 hogs
Chicken – 4 hogs
Sides – 4 hogs
Overall – 4.5 hogs
B's Cracklin' Barbeque

Linkdown: 12/14/16

– John Shelton Reed expands on his Hillary/Midwood vs Trump/Stamey’s theory though I must admit I hate to see Midwood Smokehouse get dragged into this

– Grant’s latest barbecue joints includes a visit to the Atlanta outpost of B’s Cracklin’ Barbecue which looks awesome

Now, let’s step aside from talking about this restaurant and the trip and let’s look at the big picture. Four months in Tennessee and the barbecue that I’ve found has been a few pretty good places, a bunch of so-so ones, and a handful of unspeakable disappointments. Nine hours in Georgia and one, two, three, that’s a hat trick, three barbecue meals better than any that I’ve had since moving. Now, next week, I’ll tell you about a very good place we’ve found in Chattanooga, by far my favorite in the city. But as much as I enjoyed it, it is still not anywhere close to being as good as Cleve Edmunds, or Heavy’s, or B’s. My search continues.

– Grant’s other recent reviews: Heavy’s Bar-B-Q in Crawfordville, GA and Old Plantation Bar-Be-Que in Chattanooga, TN

– Q-4-Fun reviews Texas-style joint The Beast in Paris (France  not Texas) and had “the best beef rib [he’s] ever had” (again, France not Texas)

– In case you need some barbecue book recommendations for gifts, the BBQ Hub has you covered:

– Kathleen Purvis, ladies and gentlemen

Linkdown: 12/7/16

– J.C. Reid of the Houston Chronicle: “The death of North Carolina barbecue has been greatly exaggerated”

– The Matthews location of Mac’s Speed Shop is set to open just after New Year’s

– Charlotte’s Got A Lot has 19 side dishes to order at Charlotte-area barbecue restaurants in this Charlotte Agenda post

– Buxton Hall Barbecue is of course on Atlanta Magazine’s list of places to go in Asheville

– Asheville also nabs Lonely Planet’s best places to visit in the US in 2017 list, and Buxton Hall gets a mention there as well

The South Slope area is quickly emerging as a gastronomic hotspot. Housed in a former skating rink, Buxton Hall (buxtonhall.com) offers a modern take on traditional barbecue in this throwback space. Enjoy plates of impossibly tender pork with vegetables cooked in the meat drippings, surrounded by the faded images of decades-old skating figures still visible on the walls. It also benefits from an in-house pastry chef who turns out superb sweet treats such as banana pudding pie to finish off a hearty, hog-based meal.

– The Daily Meal has the best sandwich in every state and for NC it is a chopped bbq sandwich from Lexington Barbecue

– Grant had a great sandwich Duke’s Bar-B-Que in Orangeburg, SC and found a solid spot in August, GA in Cleve Edmunds Bar-B-Que

– Does Georgia have the most bbq joints per capita? BBQ Hub explores that claim but finds that based on some quick and dirty spreadsheets Lexington, NC probably has the strongest claim to that title 

– NC joints get a shout out from Daniel Vaughn in this piece

Despite the difference in preferred protein, I think the closest style to Texas barbecue is in North Carolina. They cook primarily pork, but they still value cooking with wood just as much as we do in Texas.

Linkdown: 11/30/16

– A few more stops in the Carolina’s for Grant: Stephenson’s Bar-B-Q in Willow Spring, Skylight Inn in Ayden, and Sweatman’s Bar-B-Que down in Holly Hill, SC

– Robert Moss has an introduction to Georgia BBQ to kickoff Georgia BBQ Week, which Grant will surely love

– Coming to West Nashville soon from Pitmaster Pat Martin

– Daniel Vaughn of TMBBQ muses on a couple of easy rules for barbecue line etiquette

– From last month, Destination BBQ has an interview with Daniel Doyle of Poogan’s Smokehouse in Charleston

– The highly-anticipated Scott’s BBQ has broken ground at its Charleston location

– John Shelton Reed has a pretty out there barbecue theory on why Donald Trump carried the state of NC and I’ll just let him have at it

The latest, he told me the other day, was Hillary Clinton’s choice of a barbecue stop in Charlotte at the end of the presidential campaign. She and President Obama ate at the Midwood Smokehouse. It has a varied and upscale menu, but it is not a traditional barbecue eatery. Meanwhile, Donald Trump was buying one of those $3.50 barbecue sandwiches at Stamey’s in Greensboro.

“Maybe Clinton’s choice sold in Charlotte,” Reed said, “but the rest of the state was thinking Drumpf was eating at a real North Carolina barbecue stop, a big reason he won and she lost.

 

Linkdown: 11/23/16

– North Carolina apparently smells like blackberry and barbecue according to Homesick Candles

– The Atlanta Journal Constitution blog has a first look at B’s Cracklin’ Barbecue

– Hickory Tree BBQ in Greensboro sells turkey barbecue, and not just for Thanksgiving

– Grant continues his tour of the NC Historical Barbecue Trail with stops at Switzerland Cafe and Speedy Lohr’s of Arcadia

– Marie takes a turn writing a chapter on Stamey’s  for Marie, Let’s Eat!