Photo Gallery: Midwood Smokehouse’s new Park Road location

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It had been about 4 weeks since the latest location of Midwood Smokehouse opened in Park Road Shopping Center’s now bustling Back Lot. That’s about the amount of time I like to give new restaurants to work out their kinks so between that and Father’s Day weekend it made for the perfect occasion to check it out.

On a Friday night it was predictably busy, and owner Frank Scibelli mentioned that for this location they had ordered the largest capacity Oyler smoker available (the same manufacturer they use at all of their other locations). They aren’t cooking to capacity yet but at this location it shouldn’t be too long before they are close.

I tried most of the smoked meats this night via the Chef’s Choice Platter (off menu). The pork, brisket, pork ribs, and burnt ends I had all tried before – but this was my first time experiencing the pork burnt ends. If I’m recalling correctly, they are a Friday night special only and they’ve always been out when I had previously tried to order them. Speaking of specials, Midwood Smokehouse is now offering a beef rib, though only on Saturdays and Sundays so I wasn’t able to try it this night.

While the Ballantyne and Columbia locations of Midwood Smokehouse do smoke a whole hog quartered in their Oyler rotisserie smokers on certain days, the Park Road location is getting a BQ whole hog smoker (the eastern North Carolina brand used by Sam Jones as well as The Pit) delivered in mid-July. I couldn’t be more excited for that to come and to try Pitmaster Matt Berry’s take on whole hog. I plan to visit shortly after and will report back. Until then, you can expect more of the same from the new location of Midwood Smokehouse, and that definitely ain’t a bad thing.

Monk

Linkdown: 5/17/17

Happy belated National Barbecue Day!

– Jim Shahin steps back and looks ahead to the future of barbecue not just in NC but in other barbecue capitals across the country

One weekend last October, some of the nation’s top young pitmasters gathered on a pig farm just outside Durham, N.C., to participate in an event called the N.C. Barbecue Revival.

On undulating farmland, the cooks, veiled in wood smoke, tended their creations while Duroc and Berkshire pigs trundled freely in the surrounding woods. Without setting out to, these pitmasters — they’re all in their 30s and opened their places in just the past few years — were making a statement: that the next generation of barbecue has arrived.

– Aaron Franklin in Bloomberg (huh?): Eight Things You’re Doing Wrong When You Go Out for Barbecue

– The story of how Heirloom Market Bar-B-Que came to be

– Grant continues his Memphis barbecue trip at Pollard’s Bar-B-Q and ended up digging the side of barbecue spaghetti

– Kosher barbecue festivals are starting to pop up in cities in the south like Memphis, Atlanta, and Charlotte

– Tickets are now available for a Lenny Boy Brewing and Midwood Smokehouse beer and barbecue dinner

Join Lenny Boy Brewing’s Owner and Founder, Townes Mozer, and Midwood Smokehouse Pitmasters in a three course beer pairing event. Sip on Lenny Boy’s famouse Citraphilia IPA, Burndown Brown English Style Brown Ale, and a small batch suprise created special for this evening while enjoying a three course slow smoked menu coming soon.

– How a small town north of Fort Worth, TX became a barbecue destination

– Daniel Vaughn screencapped the barbecue scenes from Master of None season 2

– Cheerwine’s 100th birthday celebration is this Saturday in Salisbury and includes a barbecue competition; more details here:

Linkdown: 5/10/17

– We are honored to be recently added to the list of patrons of True ‘Cue alongside our buddy Grant from Marie, Let’s Eat

– Grant tries a “catfish” sandwich from Scott’s-Parker’s BBQ, which is not a fish sandwich as you might expect based on the name

– Not a good look, pt 2: An update on the Smithfield’s v Raleigh PD story, which may have been greatly embellished

– Good news from our new-ish Charlotte #1: Jon G’s BBQ is getting a food trailer

– One of the things you may not have known about Cheerwine (but probably did if you grew up in NC): Cheerwine is often the number one or two brands sold at BBQ restaurants

– Three Wilson men were honored by the Chamber of Commerce last week

While the trio don’t date back to Parker Barbecue’s opening in 1946, they have been a part of the iconic restaurant on U.S. 301 for more than a century collectively. Williams joined the staff in 1963 as a waiter before heading into the kitchen to cook ‘cue alongside one of the original owners, Ralph Parker. He stepped into an ownership role in 1987, eventually bringing Lamm and Lippard along for the ride. Lippard started working in the kitchen in his twenties while Lamm started in 1985.

– Speaking of Parker’s, Our State Magazine tweeted out their profile of them back in 2013

– Could barbecue be why Seymour Johnson Air Force Base near Goldsboro came to be? That’s apparently how the story goes, according to writer Julian Pleasants

And, Pleasants writes with a smile, the Seymour Johnson air base came about when “the War Department, in search of delicious eastern North Carolina barbecue,” designated the municipal airport near Goldsboro “as essential to national defense.”

– Some of our favorite pitmasters – Sam Jones, Elliott Moss, John Lewis, among others – will be in Greenville, SC in September for a barbecue brunch as part of Euphoria Greenville

– The new Whole Foods store in south Charlotte is having a barbecue and bluegrass opening on May 20; no word on where the barbecue is from

– The latest location of Midwood Smokehouse opens Thursday, May 18

– Charlotte Agenda includes dishes from Bar-B-Q King, Bill Spoon’s, and Art’s Barbecue & Deli on this list of 50 must-try Charlotte cheap eats under $10

Linkdown: 4/26/17

– Congrats to The Smoke Pit and Midwood Smokehouse for winning Charlotte Magazine BOB Awards for best brisket and pork respectively

– A nice article from Marie, Let’s Eat! on Ten Underrated Georgia Barbecue Joints; we even get a nice little mention

– A locals guide to Lexington, KY contains Blue Door Smokehouse, which was unfortunately sold out by the time we made it last fall (after reading this article we were probably several hours too late)

– An oldie but goodie from Our State Magazine

– Bryan Furman of B’s Cracklin BBQ, Jeff Miller of Luella’s Bar-B-Que and Wyatt Dickson of Picnic Durham, will serve whole-hog barbecue at a charity event this weekend in Asheville

– Can’t wait for the remix: an audio review of Rodney Scott’s Barbecue in Charleston by Hanna Raskin

– Uptown Charleston: so hot right now

Rodney Scott’s BBQ

Expect a line for chicken, spareribs and pulled pork slow-smoked overnight then drenched in Carolina whole-hog ambassador Rodney Scott’s signature vinegar sauce.

– It me:

Linkdown: 1/11/17

– A nicely written, in-depth article from Robert Moss about the uptick in whole hog barbecue restaurant openings:

– BBQ Hub breaks down the worst barbecue news of 2016

– On this episode of Charlotte Magazine’s #DiscussCLT podcast, Frank Scibelli reveals that the Midwood Smokehouse Park Rd location should open in March(ish) and they are planning to open another one in Lake Norman this year

– Speaking of Midwood, they have a new burnt ends recipe that’s more in line with traditional KC style

– Marie, Let’s Eat! checks out a “Chattanooga-style” barbecue joint called Porkers Bar-B-Que

– Congrats to The Smoke Pit on the opening of their Salisbury location

Ten Underrated Barbecue Joints in North Carolina

(A version of this article was published last year on Tabelog here)

Everybody knows that North Carolina is one of the greatest states in the country to travel around eating barbecue, and there are some amazing, legendary restaurants around which have been open for decades and garnered a whole lot of press and attention, but they’re not the only ones. There are more than four hundred barbecue restaurants in the Tarheel State. Many of them are outstanding even if they fly under the media’s radar. Here are ten that should not be overlooked.

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Backyard BBQ Pit – Durham (link to review)
The Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area, or Triangle, is the DMZ between the two styles of Carolina barbecue. In that zone, you don’t find an easy boundary between eastern and western (or Lexington-style). Such is the case with Backyard BBQ Pit, whose approach is similar to the great Allen & Son in Chapel Hill in that they smoke pork shoulders (the Lexington-style cut) served with an eastern style sauce with red pepper flakes to give it a little kick. Having been previously featured on Travel Channel’s “Man vs Food” you would think that Backyard BBQ would be mentioned more in the conversation of best barbecue in the Triangle. For some reason its not, but it definitely should be.

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The Barbecue Center – Lexington (link to review)
The Barbecue Center is just two miles from Lexington #1 and doesn’t get nearly as much publicity despite the fact that its recently passed owner Sonny Conrad was the major force behind The Barbecue Festival, which draws crowds of 100,000 to the city on one Saturday each October. As for the food itself, it is a classic Lexington-style joint though its dip (table sauce) can be a little sweeter than I prefer. Having grown up on Lexington #1 I certainly have my bias, but many out-of-towners without such bias (as well as plenty of locals) have stated that The Barbecue Center is the best in town. Depending on the day, they might just have a rightful claim.

Pork, brisket, ribs, wings, brunswick stewBoone’s Bar-B-Q Kitchen – Charlotte (link to review)
Dan “Boone” Gibson has his own family traditions when it comes to barbecue that don’t strictly follow the eastern/Lexington taxonomy, but you’d be silly to dismiss his barbecue right off based on that. Having had a hand in starting two Charlotte-area barbecue chains, Boone tired of that life and struck out on his own in a food truck to serve his smoked wares (pork, brisket, sausage, and ribs) directly to the people. Look for him at various food truck festivals around the Charlotte area, and you won’t be disappointed.

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Fuller’s Old Fashion BBQ – Lumberton (link to review)
Heading towards the NC coast can be hit or miss when it comes to barbecue restaurants, but this buffet-style barbecue joint off I-95 is a nice find. While the buffet has salad and seafood as well as fried chicken, the wood smoked barbecue is the main feature and rightly so. Just don’t be surprised if you get there right as it opens and find a line of folks chomping at the bit to get in.

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Johnson Family BBQ – Durham (link to review)
When you are greeted by a sign that states “It’s All About the Wood” and a simple smoker covered by an aluminum shed at a barbecue joint, you know that’s a good start. And oh, did I mention the joint is connected to a gas station off a country highway between Raleigh and Durham? Thankfully, the barbecue follows through with well-smoked eastern style barbecue with a higher ratio of light meat to dark served in a modest dining room covered with red gingham table cloths.

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Midwood Smokehouse – Charlotte (link to review)
Charlotte has been oft overlooked as a barbecue town (and usually for good reason), but Midwood Smokehouse is helping to change that perception with its focus on wood smoked meats from a variety of barbecue cuisines. While it does have an eastern carolina style pork as well as the Lexington style red slaw, Midwood draws from Central Texas in its brisket and sausages, from St. Louis in its ribs, as well as from Kansas City in its burnt ends. Throw in a full bar and you might be tempted to refer to it as “yuppie-que” but whatever you call it just know that the are serving some of the finest smoked meats in the region (the brisket is arguably the best in NC).

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Porkey’s Bar-B-Que – Mount Airy (link to review)
Similar to the coastal plans of NC, once you head west of the Piedmont of NC towards the mountains the barbecue becomes very hit or miss. Which is why stumbling across a Lexington-style joint like Porkey’s in Mount Airy was a nice surprise. It may not quite measure up to the best in Lexington, but if you are exploring the nearby wineries in the Yadkin Valley you can do a lot worse than the chopped pork at this wood smoking joint.

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Richard’s BBQ – Salisbury (link to review)
When it comes to barbecue, Salisbury is very much the little brother to Lexington. According to some, “Lexington style” barbecue – that is, chopped pork shoulders with a vinegar and ketchup-based sauce – may have even originated there. Richard’s is a wood smoking joint that serves coarsely chopped pork with plenty of bark mixed in. Add some nearly perfect hush puppies with the right mix of savory and sweet as well as a classic red slaw, and you’ve got a joint that competes with many of the better ones in Lexington.

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The Smoke Pit – Concord (link to review)
A relative newcomer, The Smoke Pit models its barbecue and presentation after Central Texas. Order a combo platter and you get a tray of meat and sides arranged like what you’d expect in just about any joint in Austin. But with the choice to drink it with a SunDrop (which along with Cheerwine is nearly the perfect drink for barbecue), it still retains some of that North Carolina charm. Much like Charlotte, Concord isn’t known for its barbecue but I’d recommend The Smoke Pit to just about anyone in the area.

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Troutman’s Bar-B-Que – Denton (link to review)
Troutman’s is the archetypal NC barbecue joint: a small, standalone wood shack off a country highway in a rural part of the state. There’s a wood pile out back, two modest dining rooms, and waitresses that take your order as soon as you find your seat. The pork is consistently moist and smokey and paired with the red slaw, hushpuppies, and a Cheerwine, it’s at a price that’s hard to beat.

What other underrated NC joints did we miss?

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

Midwood Smokeshack – Matthews, NC

img_6574Name: Midwood Smokeshack
Date: 9/30/16
Address: 3335 Siskey Pkwy #400, Charlotte, NC 28105
Order: Well-Fed combo platter with pulled pork (x2), brisket, and sausage with creamed corn, collards, and cornbread  (link to menu)
Price: $24

Monk: Readers may recall that I had previously checked out Midwood Smokeshack in early September on the invitation of FS Food Group owner Frank Scibelli for the primary purpose of meeting the new pitmaster, Michael Wagner. I didn’t want do an official review of that visit but this time around I took the family there on a Friday night to check it out on my own dime.

During our couple of minutes wait in a short line, I was able to convince Mrs. Monk to go in on the “Well-Fed” platter containing 4 meats and two sides with the stipulation that two of the meats be pork since she she wasn’t interested in eating any brisket (we also got sausage as our fourth meat).

Midwood Smokeshack is utilizing the same rotisserie-style, stick burning smoker used at the full-sized Midwood Smokehouse locations and while there may some slight variations, all in all I found the meats to be pretty consistent in quality and flavors. The chopped pork had flavorful chunks of bark throughout and I really enjoyed mixing some of the eastern NC sauce in. I requested a mix of fatty and lean brisket and it had the peppery bark you would expect from Midwood Smokehouse. And the sausage with the South Carolina mustard sauce was a hit with both myself and the missus.

I’m usually pretty consistent when it comes to sides at Midwood Smokehouse: slaw and hush puppies. But with Mrs. Monk picking out sides (another stipulation of getting the Well-Fed platter), we were a bit more adventurous. I hadn’t tried the creamed corn before and after tasting it, I’m not sure why I hadn’t – I loved it and will definitely order it again. The collards with chunks of brisket mixed in were just ok and I’ve tasted better.

The other difference between Smokeshack and Smokehouse is they have opted for cornbread over hush puppies. Partially for logistical reasons – a deep fryer in a crowded serving area would be dangerous – but I also got the sense from speaking with Frank last time that they also wanted to try something different. Their version of cornbread was little bite-sized muffins and was delicious.

I love the original Midwood Smokehouse and will continue to frequent that establishment when the occasion calls for it. But fast casual is increasingly the way people want to eat these days (families, in particular) so its really smart for FS Food Group to build out the Midwood Smokeshack concept (along with their Mediterranean concept Yafo). The fact that they execute a slimmed-down version of the same menu with no drop off in quality is impressive, and I predict that I will find myself frequenting this establishment pretty darn often.

Ratings:
Atmosphere – 3 hogs
Pork – 4 hogs
Brisket – 4 hogs
Sausage – 4 hogs
Sides – 3.5 hogs
Overall – 4 hogs

Linkdown: 9/14/16

– Jim Noble is smoking barbecue for the Tabor Bungalow Social this coming Saturday, presumably as a test run for his forthcoming barbecue restaurant Noble Smoke

– Charlotte Observer food editor Kathleen Purvis stopped by Robert Moss’ podcast The Winnow to discuss Charlotte food, restaurant decor and Maurice’s Piggie Park and their tainted history with the Confederate flag at the 30:03 mark

– Grant’s latest stop is a second take at Kevin Brown’s Burgers & Bar-B-Q in Ooltewah

– Rodney Scott’s neighbor-blessed design passed the Charleston Board of Architectural Review (BAR) last Thursday

– Destination BBQ mulls over on the potential restaurant approach for Rodney Scott’s Bar-B-Que

– A pop-up donut shop will be at Franklin Barbecue on October 2

– Midwood Smokehouse has 3 packages for your gamedays this fall