Linkdown: 10/6/20

Featured

The Barbecue Center is often overlooked in the shadow of Lexington Barbecue but those who are in the know believe that it’s every bit as good as its more popular counterpart (perhaps better?).

The late Sonny Conrad started out as a carhop before purchasing the restaurant in 1967 (it originally opened in 1955) and his family has run it ever since, with sons Cecil and Michael taking over day to day activities since their father passed in 2013. More on their family story at the link below.

Next time you are passing through Lexington on Business 85, consider stopping at The Barbecue Center which is just two miles away from Lexington Barbecue off N. Main St.

Native News

More from Lexington: a profile of the city’s history with barbecue with some quotes from the Conrads and the Monks of Lexington Barbecue

Barbecue-gate for Democratic candidate for NC Senate Cal Cunningham, born and raised in Lexington of all places (yes, I’m aware of the more recent scandal)

Parker’s Barbecue in Wilson found itself in the news this week after a customer complained about employees not wearing masks.

I’m going to file this in the “Native News” section even though its from Texas writer J.C. Reid

Non-Native News

Robert Moss finds a mention of pork steaks in Charleston from a menu from 1851

That very same Robert Moss has an updated version of his book out now, and he spoke with The Smoke Sheet last week

Doveshack BBQ is well worth a stop-off from I-95 during the eventual back-up, writes John Tanner’s BBQ Blog

Kevin Bludso of Bludso’s Bar & Que and “The American Barbecue Showdown” talks to the Washington Post about the neglected contributions of black pitmasters among other topics

John Brown Smokehouse’s original location closed this past week, but it will be reopening in a new location this Thursday

Another hard lesson learned in the form of Prause’s Meat Market: don’t take your favorite classic barbecue joints for granted

Linkdown: 5/20/20

Heim Barbecue laments rising meat prices in this piece from the local Fort Worth paper: “I’m afraid these meat shortages are going to be the final nail in the coffin for a lot of independent BBQ joints” 

In NC, JD’s Smokehouse in Connelly Springs has been having issues procuring meat

Rodney Scott’s newest barbecue store won’t open in Atlanta by the end of the spring as originally planned, but they are still moving forward

For those barbecue fans looking for a new ebook

Pork prices have increased by 3%

Five spots for “quarantine barbecue” in Asheville, according to the AVL Today blog

NYC barbecue takeout options

Quite the photo here

Even the NC Museum of History is getting in on “The Last Dance” memes

Linkdown: 4/1/20

With the recent return to curbside service as a result of social distancing, Red Bridges Barbecue Lodge returns to its roots of carhops

Last week’s Smoke Sheet examined how barbecue joints are adapting to Covid-19

Horn Barbecue in Oakland is raising money to help feed the community during covid-19

Josh Bowen of John Brown Smokehouse is raising money for ER workers in NYC

Neil McClure of McCure’s Barbecue and the Deswine Intervention competition team smoked barbecue for Children’s Hospital workers last weekend in New Orleans

The Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest has been rescheduled to Sept 30-Oct 3

There is no ‘I’ in barbecue

Johnson Family Barbecue in Durham had a recent incident with a Postmates driver and the owner Wayne Johnson has made things worse by responding to negative Yelp reviews with racist and inflammatory language

The death of barbecue hash was perhaps premature, writes Robert Moss for Southern Living

Pinkerton’s BBQ owner Grant Pinkerton is interviewed by The Andy Staple Show on The Athletic and discusses how his staff are dealing with Covid-19

Uncorked is a new Netflix movie set in a Memphis barbecue restaurant that serves…brisket?

WILBER’S BACK (soon)

John Brown Smokehouse – Long Island City, NY

Name: John Brown Smokehouse
Address: 10-43 44th Dr, Long Island City, NY 11101
Order: 1/2 lb of burnt ends, 1/2 lb pork belly, and 1/2 lb pulled pork with corn bread and collards (link to menu)
Pricing: $$

A quick work trip to New York City allowed me to accomplish a couple of barbecue-related things while in town (after finishing up my day job requirements, of course): try another New York barbecue joint to see how its barbecue scene continues to develop and also meet up with Sean Ludwig of NYC BBQ and The Smoke Sheet.

Regarding the latter, I had met up with Ryan Cooper (aka BBQ Tourist), the other half of The Smoke Sheet, last year in Charlotte so meeting Sean would complete my Smoke Sheet punch card. Turns out, Sean is also a great guy and I enjoyed “talking shop” regarding all things barbecue and how they run The Smoke Sheet. Sean is a thoughtful guy and gave me a lot of great things to think about when it comes to Barbecue Bros.

In terms of barbecue, I knew I would be limited when it comes to barbecue options after 8pm on a Monday night. Consulting with Sean ahead of time, we settled on John Brown Smokehouse in Long Island City since it’s open until 10 and was convenient to both my midtown hotel and Sean’s apartment. John Brown’s is a Kansas City-style barbecue joint that opened in 2012 and its co-owner and pitmaster Josh Bowen has also opened the Texas-themed Mothership Meat Company a few miles away, but that appears to be more of a warm weather patio spot.

Thankfully, John Brown Smokehouse was able to mostly deliver when it came to barbecue though some meats were understandably out by the time we get there (which is of course always preferable to serving old or not-up-to-par meats). Sean took the lead in terms of the order and we settled on a 1/2 lb each of burnt ends, pork belly, and pulled pork.

I’ll get the pulled pork out of the way since it was my least favorite of the three meats. John Brown Smokehouse served a coarsely chopped pulled pork that had good bark that surprisingly lacked much flavor.

The brisket is apparently not the order at John Brown and instead Sean recommended that we should go for the burnt ends. According to Sean, the brisket is sliced too thin while the burnt ends are taken from the fatty point of the brisket so you should just order them instead. Curiously, the burnt ends were not sauced as you might expect from a Kansas City joint but regardless, they were moist and flavorful.

I’m not sure if pork belly is typical at Kansas City barbecue restaurants or if this was a case of just wanting to have a variety of meats on John Brown’s menu, but it was yet another case of a successful protein available past 9. Similar to the other meats, it came sauceless but the well-rendered fattiness of the pork belly didn’t require any sauce.

Speaking of sauces, be sure to taste test your sauce bottles if you do go for sauce, as the highly spicy variant of the barbecue was mistakenly labeled and could have led to unexpected results had I been overly aggressive with the sauce.

In terms of sides, the cornbread is a must order at John Brown Smokehouse. Though its not a traditional cornbread cake, instead having a texture of a corn pudding. Moist and sweet, their version of cornbread was a different twist on cornmeal I hadn’t seen before that more than made up for their lackluster collards.

John Brown Smokehouse would have been forgiven for mediocre meats at a less-than-optimal time of day. Thankfully, they more than delivered a great meal on a rainy, nasty Monday night and I can imagine earlier in the day it would have been even better.

Ratings:
Atmosphere – 3.5 hogs
Pork – 3 hogs
Burnt Ends – 3.5 hogs
Pork Belly – 3.5 hogs
Sides – 4 hogs
Overall – 3.5 hogs