Name: Smoke Modern Barbeque Date: 2/28/15 Address: 16710 Birkdale Commons, Pkwy #103, Huntersville, North Carolina 28078 Order: Two meat Smokin Q Combo (pork and brisket) with slaw and soda (link to menu) Price: $20
For a state with a, shall we say, lacking barbecue tradition, Colorado at least kinda seems to know what its doing when it comes to barbecue chains. First, Moe’s Original Bar-B-Que expanded into the Charlotte area with its Matthews location a few years back and now Smoke Modern Barbeque has opened a restaurant in Huntersville. Another one is planned in the Ballantyne area of south Charlotte this summer, taking over for the old City Tavern at Stonecrest.
Smoke is nice inside. Like, probably too nice looking. The servers are dressed in all black and the decor is all modern, straight lines (hence the “modern” in the name, I assume). Based on that description, this has to be too nice of a place to actually serve decent barbecue, right?
Well, after my two meat combo I’d say yea, that’s more or less the case. The small-ish serving of coarsely pulled pork had minimal bark and was not all that smokey. Mrs. Monk’s pork sandwich had several huge strands of pork (as well as some unwanted grizzle) that made it tough for her to chrew at times. I will say, at least the bun was a nice substantial potato bun that held up under the weight of the sandwich and slaw. My recommendation to Smoke would be to utilize cleavers to chop up the pork a little more before serving.
The brisket was a little better, if not stellar. It was a bit more thinly sliced than I like but it did have a nice peppery bark, reminiscent of a central Texas-style brisket. My portion came with a mix of lean and fatty, and I would recommend it if you found yourself there. In fact, if I were to go again (likely at the south Charlotte location to try it out once it opens), I’d probably get the brisket but would also try the jalapeno beef sausage which is actually imported from Kiolbassa Meats in San Antonio.
For a nearly $17 combo, its a bit disappointing that you only get one side but I guess that’s to be expected from upscale, yuppie ‘cue. The cider slaw was fine, but I found it odd that Smoke didn’t have any cornmeal options. Neither cornbread nor hush puppies were anywhere to be seen on the menu.
Smoke seems to emphasize their house made sauces available at each table, with our waiter taking us through a “tour of the sauces” since it was our first time there. They had a red vinegar sauce that wasn’t really Lexington style, a thicker sauce recommended for brisket, an even thicker KC Masterpiece-style sauce, and finally a “Georgia Gold” mustard-based sauce. How they came up with that name is a mystery – if Georgia has a mustard sauce tradition that’s news to me.
You might be tempted to check out Smoke Modern Barbecue on a date night because of its modern decor and upscale-iness, however I just can’t recommend it due to its high prices and small portions, not to mention the barbecue itself is a little lacking. Plus, they spell barbecue with a “q” so they obviously can’t be trusted.
– In this week’s blog for The Daily South, Robert Moss profiles a NASA scientist by day, and whole hog barbecue pitmaster by night
A career in engineering took Howard Conyers a long way from Paxville: to an undergraduate degree at North Carolina A&T followed by a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering and materials science from Duke, and then to Louisiana. “I finished my Ph.D. and took my first job at Stennis,” Conyers says. “I lived in Slidell for a year and then moved to New Orleans.” Somewhere along the way, he started to miss his family’s style of whole hog barbecue. “I realized I had left something back home that is unique and special,” he says.
(If you’re wondering, the name came about when we were trying to find a pig-based url for my website. A whole hog joint needs a pig name, and url squatters had most of them. I tried every color pig.com, every variant spelling of hog, all to no luck. Then one day I walked past a poster for a beer called the “Arrogant Bastard Ale.” I wondered if Arrogant Swine was available, and it was, so that became my name.)
– Smoke Modern Barbeque is a new barbecue restaurant in Huntersville from Charlotte restaurateur Dennis Thompson, who is involved in Firebirds Wood Fire Grill and Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar; it opened on Monday
– TMBBQ goes deep on best naner pudding in Texas, though I disagree with their assertion on NC naner pudding – its been served cold everywhere I’ve ever been
First, though, let’s talk about what unifies banana pudding in Texas. That’s temperature. If you venture over to North Carolina, it’ll come piping hot and covered in meringue, but in Texas it’s served straight from the fridge.
Name: Lancaster’s BBQ Date: 3/21/14 Address: 9230 Beatties Ford Rd, Huntersville, NC 28078 Order: Bar-B-Que pork dinner with slaw, brunswick stew and Sun Drop (link to menu) Price: $8.66
By my count, Lancaster’s BBQ is the fourth Charlotte-area barbecue restaurant that serves Eastern NC barbecue (including Midwood Smokehouse, Bill Spoon’s, and Bubba’s). I promise our dear readers that I will stop being surprised by other barbecue styles in Piedmont-located Charlotte because according to Tom Hanchett, a historian at the city’s Levine Museum of the New South and expert on Southern food, “it is a city of newcomers and we have other people’s barbecue.” In any case, I visited the Huntersville location of Lancaster’s last week because I had not had barbecue in the month of March and I was tweakin’.
If you go to Lancaster’s I pray you aren’t annoyed by NASCAR and NASCAR memorabilia. Because it’s literally everywhere. Next to my booth was a car engine, which I had the good fortune of staring at during my meal.
On this Friday, they had a pork barbecue plate special which includes 2 sides and a drink and represents a pretty outstanding value considering the meal is usually $10.75 on its own. Picking that with bbq slaw and brunswick stew as my sides, it wasn’t but 3 minutes later that I had a plate in front of me. Bonus points for quickness.
The pork was moist and fairly tender but had little smoke, even in the pieces of bark in my coarsely pulled plate. The two sauces on the table were a vinegar, eastern sauce and a heavier ketchup-y barbecue sauce. I stayed away from the heavier sauce but the vinegar sauce complemented the meat pretty well. Too bad about the lack of smoke, though – likely due to the pork being smoked in a gas or electric smoker.
Even before you order, you get a basket of hush puppies and mine were fresh out of the deep fryer and once I happily let them cool off, they were great – probably the best part of the meal. As for the sides I ordered, the “bbq slaw” wasn’t the Lexington style slaw its name would indicate but made in the eastern style of the pork with mayo and a little mustard. The brunswick stew needed salt but at least the veggies didn’t taste like they were originally frozen. They did have Sun Drop from a soda fountain, so props on that.
Lancaster’s BBQ has another location further north in Mooresville, but I won’t be rushing there any time soon. If for some reason I happen to be in the area (unlikely), maybe I will check it out since it’s a quick meal with friendly service.