Potbelly BBQ (food truck) (mini-review)

IMG_0579
Name
: Potbelly BBQ
Date: 10/7/17
Order: Chopped pork sandwich (link to menu)
Price: $5.95

Monk: Each fall, the Anne Springs Close Greenway in nearby Fort Mill hosts a Fall Frolic on weekends in October. Tractor rides, pumpkin picking, horseback riding, barrel rides. hay jumping.

Potbelly BBQ was one of a few food vendors set up on a misty Saturday morning and since I hadn’t had any breakfast by mid-morning I went for a sandwich but only a sandwich so as not to spoil my appetite for lunch with the rest of the family.

I stepped up to the window right as a fresh butt was being chopped and ordered a chopped sandwich, adding slaw. The pork was nicely smoked (and obviously fresh), but came with a thicker barbecue sauce on top, which wouldn’t have been my preference. Still, a very satisfying sandwich from Potbelly BBQ. Next time I see them around I’ll try their brisket.

Ratings:
Atmosphere – N/A
Pork – 3 hogs
Overall – 3 hogs

Advertisements

Woodlands Barbecue and Pickin’ Parlor – Blowing Rock, NC

IMG_20170915_125342
Name: Woodlands Barbecue and Pickin’ Parlor
Date: 9/15/17
Address: 8304 Valley Blvd, Blowing Rock, NC 28605
Order: “The Hog” (pork, beef, ribs, and wings) with red slaw and collards (link to menu)
Price: $19.99

Monk: Let me state for the record that visiting Woodlands Barbecue and Pickin’ Parlor (quite a mouthful, that name) in Blowing Rock was neither the choice of Speedy nor me on our annual guys trip. But of course, when our Yelp Elite friend Dan chose it based on friend’s recommendation, we happily obliged. Though, just how would a combination barbecue and mexican restaurant located in the mountains of NC actually turn out? Turns out: not bad but not great.

Speedy: I had passed Woodlands on my drive in, so was definitely intrigued. And seeing a cheap combo platter on the menu made me very happy. Not as happy as when the waitress asked us what college we went to, but happy nonetheless…

Monk: …doing work at 35, son!

Speedy: For our order, we went with “The Hog” – the smaller of the two combo plates, as we were told the bigger combo (“Pig Out”) was the same plus three more sides. Well, we were there for the meat, so that didn’t seem worth while to us. The hog came with pork, brisket (both chopped), ribs, and wings, so it was basically perfect. We added on red slaw and collards.

Monk: Seriously, what two people need six sides? This was the second time in three weeks that I’ve seen chopped or pulled beef on a menu as opposed to sliced brisket. The common denominator? Western NC mountain barbecue joints. A quick search doesn’t yield much information about this style of barbecue but anecdotally I recall hearing in my travels that this was a popular barbecue meat in the mountains of NC. As for this version of pulled beef…it was actually not bad! The pulled strands of beef were smoky and had a good texture. I’m curious as to what cut of beef this was pulled from, but it was in the running with the pork for the best meat of the meal.

Speedy: The ribs, on the other hand, were a bit of a miss. They were big slabs of spare ribs, and could have been trimmed to the St. Louis cut for a much better presentation. When we ordered, the waitress asked us if we wanted spicy or sweet, telling us spicy meant vinegar. Of course, that’s what we chose, thinking it was in context of the pork. Instead, our ribs had the vinegar sauce on it and it just didn’t work that well. The cook and the tenderness of the ribs were OK, but overall, (start Randy Jackson voice) they just didn’t do it for me, dawg.

Monk: These full wings were weird and required makeshift butcher work on our part to separate the drumette from the flat from the tip. The aforementioned spicy vinegar sauce didn’t work as a wing sauce but the other option was more of a KC Masterpiece-type thick sauce so really there were no good options. I simply did not care for them and would not recommend them as an order. None of the sides rose above standard and are worth mentioning.

Speedy: I actually do want to mention the sides, Monk, because the collards were terrible. Throw some pork or bacon in there, people! Overall, however, it was a mostly pleasant dining experience, despite the fact that we had to deal with an obnoxious Yelper while we were eating (Hi, Dan! Also, thanks for the photos!). Would I recommend as worthy of going out of your way to try? No way, but I’d consider stopping in at Woodlands Barbecue and Pickin’ again should I return back to Blowing Rock.

For more reviews:
Yelp God Daniel B

Ratings:
Atmosphere – 3 hogs
Pork – 2.5 hogs
Beef – 2.5 hogs
Ribs – 2 hogs
Wings – 2 hogs
Sides – 2 hogs
Overall – 2.5 hogs
Woodlands Barbeque Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bennett’s Pit Bar-B-Que – Gatlinburg, TN

IMG_0224
Name
: Bennett’s Pit Bar-B-Que
Date: 9/3/17
Address: 714 River Rd, Gatlinburg, TN 37738
Order: Bar-B-Que Combo (chopped pork, brisket, and sausage) with jalapeno mac and cheese and coleslaw (link to menu)
Price: $14.99

Monk: While our last barbecue stop on the Monk family vacation to Gatlinburg, Tennessee was a bit of a bust for reasons other than barbecue we got another opportunity a couple days later while we were playing tourist in downtown Gatlinburg. Across the street from the aerial tram Ober Gatlinburg (our main plans for the day), just happened to be Bennett’s Pit Bar-B-Que and made the decision easy for us.

I know from the review of the Pigeon Forge store from Marie, Let’s Eat! that I was to expect fine-but-not-exceptional barbecue and guess what? Grant was right. The pork was perfectly acceptable but Bennett’s seemed to be very proud of their four sauces found on the table. None of them made a huge difference in the again, perfectly acceptable pork.

The brisket was dry and below average while the best of the three meats that day was the sliced sausage. A little of the table mustard sauce accentuated it nicely. This was the favorite meat of both myself and Mrs. Monk.

Bennett’s Pit Bar-B-Que is part of the locally-owned Johnson Family chain of restaurants that includes pizza, southern, and ice cream with locations in nearby Pigeon Forge and Sevierville. To their credit, they could serve below-average barbecue to tourists simply because they know that they’ll continue to make money regardless but thankfully that’s not the case. While they are a tourist destination that happens to serve halfway decent barbecue, it won’t blow your mind.

For more reviews, check out:
Marie, Let’s Eat

Ratings:
Atmosphere – 2 hogs
Pork – 2.5 hogs
Beef – 2 hogs
Sausage – 3.5 hogs
Sides – 2.5 hogs
Overall – 2.5 hogs
Bennett's Pit Bar-B-Que Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Okie Dokies Smokehouse – Swannanoa, NC

Name: Okie Dokies Smokehouse
Date: 9/1/17
Address: 2375 US Hwy 70, Swannanoa, NC 28778
Order: Big Combo (chopped pork, chopped beef, and ribs) with collards and red slaw (link to menu)
Price: $14.99

Monk: In the Asheville area, there had been still a couple of places in the surrounding towns that have caught my eye to check out when I’m in the area. I thought a much needed dinner break on the way to Gatlinburg, Tennessee would be a great opportunity to knock one off my list – Okie Dokies Smokehouse in Swannanoa . In the end, we made the stop but it turned out to be an abbreviated one to the small joint off US-70 15 minutes east of Asheville.

As Mrs. Monk and the Monkette got some air, I took the liberty of ordering a Big Combo with three of the meats and two sides to share with the missus. Little did I know, we would eventually be taking that order to go and the meal would be evaluated in the car 30 minutes down the road.

The chopped pork was moist and had some decent wood smoke but didn’t knock my socks off. I will say that I do appreciate that Okie Dokies cooks over wood and that you can taste it in the meat.

Chopped beef is not something you see much in NC – I can think of maybe two other places I’ve been to that serve that style – and let me be clear that we definitely aren’t talking chopped brisket like they do in Central and East Texas. This beef was served pulled and chopped in a similar manner to the pork. While moist enough, I think this meat illustrated why you don’t see it more often in these parts – it just doesn’t do anything exciting for the eater.

The ribs were a bit overdone, pulling away from the bone really easily. The rub and sauce had some decent taste to it though.

There’s not too much to say about the sides except that the hush puppies were freaking excellent.

I wish could say more about the atmosphere and the building itself or even had more photos to share but sometimes life (and in this case, the Monkette) intervenes. If it is any indication, next time through, I would stop in again at Okie Dokies Smokehouse on my way to or from Asheville without hesitation though. I liked what I saw for the most part.

Ratings:
Atmosphere – N/A
Pork – 3 hogs
Beef – 2.5 hogs
Ribs – 2.5 hogs
Sides – 3.5 hogs
Overall – 3 hogs
Okie Dokies Smokehouse Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
 

Franklin Barbecue – Austin, TX (RE-REVIEW)

IMG_1612
Name
: Franklin Barbecue
Date: 7/21/17
Address: 900 E 11th, Austin, TX
Order: 2 pounds brisket, 1 pound ribs, 1 pound ribs, 1 pound sausage (link to menu)
Price: $120-ish

Speedy: Less than 24 hours after my excellent visit to La Barbecue, I was ready to get back at it, this time to the legendary Franklin Barbecue. Rudy dropped me off at 6 AM to get in line and went to take care of some things at work, re-joining me about 8. Getting there that early, I expected to be first in line, but in reality, there were three groups and about 12 people in front of me. Fortunately, I was still there in plenty of time to be shaded for my entire wait, which was hugely clutch. I spent most of the time sitting in a tailgate chair and sipping Lone Stars, so all-in-all, it was a pretty good morning.

Rudy: The shade part was the best by far. I don’t know how the people in the 2nd half of the line made it, I guess just more Lone Stars.  

Speedy: Around 9:00, someone came around to ask what we were ordering, in order to get a good idea when food was going to run out. You weren’t bound by the order, but it was a good way to understand how far the food would go.

Around 10:30 am, I went inside to hit the bathroom (which they opened up around 9:30), and I saw the Godfather himself – Aaron Franklin. I was a little bummed he didn’t recognize me as a Barbecue Bro (AARON – ARE YOU EVEN READING??), but it was pretty cool he was there.

Rudy: I’ll chalk it up to him just being intimidated by your presence. I am sure he scampered to the back to make sure everything was up to snuff. In all seriousness, I think it is great that they open the building early to people that need to use the bathroom or want to purchase drinks or merchandise. I feel like many places would keep the doors closed until they open for food. That was a nice touch.

Speedy: Eventually, the restaurant opened, and Rudy and I were to the front of the line pretty quickly. Like at La Barbecue, we were given a bit of brisket to much on, and it was every bit as good as the previous day, only this time I was expecting it. No matter – we placed our order, got our meat, and found a table to sit at and dig in.

I’ll start with the brisket since that’s what it’s known for and my God, it is incredible. The peppery bark was perfect, the meat was tender and flavorful, and it was simply divine. The previous day I had claimed I had eaten the best brisket I’d ever tasted, but this was every bit its equal. Just absolutely phenomenal.

Rudy: I agree, if barbecue places in Texas are judged primarily on brisket, you have to hit it out of the park to be listed as the best, and Franklin’s did. The bark was amazing, but the flavors ran all the way through the meat, so no matter what bite you got, it was great. We got moist brisket, and the fat was perfectly rendered as opposed to many other places where you end up with a huge glob of fat with drier meat around it.

Speedy: Rudy had been raving about the ribs, so they were what I tried next. I’ve eaten lots of awesome ribs in my day, but these ribs stacked right up there with the best of them. They were perfectly cooked – giving a clean bite every time. The flavor was amazing – with just the right amount of rub that had a touch of sweetness. The ribs were glazed, so neither wet nor dry, which worked perfectly. These may not have been the best ribs I’ve ever had, but I’d say they’re in the top 5. Overall, you’d be remiss to skip out on these at Franklin.

Rudy: Top 5?!?! I need to eat some of the places you’ve been eating! I love them because of the flavor, the fact that they are tender and moist without being wet ribs. They are my favorite by far.

Speedy: The pork was also a great showing. Tender and a little vinegary, it was everything you’d expect from a good pulled pork. In a normal setting, I’d write more to rave about the pork, but it was a distant third in this offering. Not to say it wasn’t very good, but brisket and ribs were the co-headliners.

The sausage was good – considerably better than La Barbecue, but I wouldn’t order it again. Stomach room at Franklin is too precious to waste on just an above average meat. At many barbecue places this would be the top offering, but at Franklin, the brisket and ribs rose to the top.

Rudy: The pork was a pleasant surprise for me because I had not had it before. What I’ve had other places is usually a peppery pulled pork (which this included) but the difference here was the slight taste of vinegar that you don’t get with most other Texas pulled pork. That gave it a distinct flavor compared to the other meats and also made it closer to NC pulled pork, which was a welcome bit of home for me. As far as the sausage, I agree, it was good but I could have done without it in lieu of more of the other 3 meats.

Speedy: The question that came up often after the trip was whether Franklin Barbecue was worth the 5 hour wait. It’s not something I’d do every weekend, but I think it was absolutely worth it. Overall, the wait was a rather enjoyable experience, and if I wasn’t already obsessed with barbecue, I’d call the meat life-changing. I can’t wait for my next trip to Franklin’s!

Ratings:
Atmosphere/Ambiance – 4 hogs
Brisket – 5 hogs
Ribs – 5 hogs
Pork – 4 hogs
Sausage – 3.5 hogs
Sides – N/A
Overall – 5 hogs
Franklin Barbecue Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Das BBQ – Atlanta, GA (Rudy’s take)

IMG_6561Name: Das BBQ
Date: 7/15/17
Location: 1203 Collier Rd, Atlanta, GA 30318
Order: 2 Meat Plate with Brisket and Sausage, Side of collard greens and Mac & Cheese. Separate order of ½ pound of pulled pork.  (link to menu)
Bill: $25

Rudy:  I knew that Monk had already reviewed Das BBQ on a trip to Atlanta, but when I went to visit family they told me they wanted to take me to their new favorite barbecue restaurant. Who was I to complain? I didn’t recall how the place had rated, so it was good to go in without any preconceived ideas of what to expect.

Like Monk said, they have a Texas-style feel to them. That’s evident from the menu and also from the decor around the place. I noticed some photos of some of Lockhart’s most famous joints. It is also has a Texas-style menu (meats by the pound), however when I asked them for a single piece of chicken or quarter pound of pork (feeding Rudy Jr) they looked at me like I had two heads. Most places in Texas you can order almost any increment of weight (even ask for a single slice of brisket, turkey, etc.). From what I heard, the owners spent some time in Texas learning the tricks to the trade before opening their venture in Atlanta.

The time that they spent learning about Texas-style barbecue, specifically in relation to the brisket, was time well spent. I got a piece of moist brisket and it was fantastic. The smoke was not too overwhelming and it had a great mixture of salt and pepper in the bark. I tend to have low expectations for brisket outside of Texas because of my past experiences, but I was pleasantly pleased with the offering from Das.

Monk: Couldn’t agree more about the brisket. They are putting those Franklin-spec offset smokers to good use.

Rudy: I opted for the spicy sausage, which I thought was fine but not one that I was in love with. I didn’t notice that much of a spice from it, more just pepper flavor. The other thing, and this is purely a personal preference, I tend to like jalapeno and cheddar sausage over just jalapeno sausage. I feel like the creaminess from the cheese compliments the spice. I know I shouldn’t count off for that because they weren’t even offering that type of sausage, but these are my arbitrary rankings, so I’m counting off.

Monk: Loyal readers may recall that the sausage is imported from Meyer’s Smokehouse in Elgin, TX so its legit authentic. Although come to think of it, I don’t know that I’ve had a jalapeno cheddar sausage before (we know Speedy definitely hasn’t) but that’s now officially on my list to try.

Rudy: The pork was moist and flavorful. Nothing too special about it, but still very good. I liked it more than the sausage and Rudy Jr definitely did. He opted to eat a decent amount of it before turning his attention to the mac & cheese (priorities).

As far as the sides, they were serviceable. Mac & cheese was standard offering. The collard greens were good, but definitely on the spicy side. I did not mind that, but others with my group were not expecting that and were not fans. One side that I did not order, but tried from another person’s order, was the cream corn. I thought it was by far the best tasting side and also the most unique. It was not just a standard side, but had lots of flavor and spice to it.  That would be my recommendation for someone getting a side.

Monk: While you hadn’t checked out my review before checking it out, turns out we ended with pretty close ratings both overall and by meat. I’d say that’s a continued good sign for the quality of Das on two independent visits over 3 months apart.

Rudy: Overall, I was very pleased with Das BBQ and enjoyed getting some barbecue that tasted very similar to back home while I was out of town. I can definitely tell that they have done lots of studying to make sure that their barbecue tastes as close to genuine Texas standards, which is something that many places don’t do when they are that far from the state. Next time I am looking for barbecue in Atlanta, I definitely will head back to Das BBQ.

Ratings:
Atmosphere/Ambiance – 4 hogs
Brisket – 4 hogs
Sausage – 3.5 hogs
Pulled Pork – 4 hogs
Sides – 3.5 hogs
Overall – 4 hogs

La Barbecue – Austin, TX (Speedy’s take)

IMG_1608Name: La Barbecue
Date: 7/20/17
Address: 1906 E Cesar Chavez St, Austin, TX 78702
Order: ½ lb brisket, ¼ lb pork, 1 sausage link (link to menu)
Price: $19

Speedy: After a quick work trip to Dallas, I thought it would be a good idea to pop over to Austin to visit Rudy. We both had to work my first day there, but I was able to get away for lunch and head over to La Barbecue, which Rudy previously raved about.

I got there about 11:30, and there was already a decent line. A guy behind me in line asked how long the wait was from the end – he was told 15, but the reality was 40. After 15 minutes, his order was taken (but no one else’s), so as to not make the worker “a liar.” Also, there was no free beer as there was on Rudy’s visit. Combine this with the hot weather and the business casual attire, and I was a little annoyed. The lack of urgency from the staff to serve people added to my annoyance.

Monk: I know the answer to this question, but you were mad because it was hot in July in Texas and they didn’t offer you free beer, something they aren’t obligated to do? Really?

Rudy: I believe that the free beer is only on Saturdays. You were actually able to visit La Barbecue on one of their last days as a food truck because they have since moved into a brick and mortar location. So while the wait might not be less time, but it could possibly be inside.

Speedy: At long last, I got to the front of the line, ordered ¼ pound brisket, ¼ pork, and a sausage link. Before cutting, the homie cutting the meat handed me a small chunk of brisket, which I popped into my mouth. Every annoyance, and truly every care I had immediately went away. The bit was so peppery and moist and simply divine. I quickly upped my order to ½ pound of brisket, got my food, paid, and went to find a shady spot to sit.

Rudy: They got me with the taste test too. Works every time.

IMG_1610.JPG

Speedy: Every bite of brisket was just as the first. This was, without a doubt, the best brisket I had ever tasted. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. It was absolutely perfect. There’s nothing I would change about it. I’m not an eloquent enough write to justly write about this brisket, so I’ll just say if you ever get a chance, get it.

Monk: I had similar thoughts when I tried Lewis Barbecue in Charleston earlier this year, which we all know is the joint that former La Barbecue pitmaster John Lewis opened about a year ago. I’d be curious how Lewis stacks up to La.

Rudy: Being a North Carolina boy, I didn’t have high expectations with the pulled pork, but digging in, I was blown away. It was tender, smoky, and tangy. I don’t know what was on it, but there was vinegar involved. It also came with pickled onions, which was a perfect pairing. Overall, this was in the top echelon of pulled pork I’ve ever had. I was shocked. If you ever get a chance, get it.

The sausage was disappointing. The flavor was fine, but it was a little dry and fell apart pretty easily. It wasn’t by any means bad – in fact, in a vacuum, i’d probably call it good. But compared to the brisket and the pork, it’s not worth ordering.

I didn’t order sides – I didn’t feel the need to.

In thinking about La Barbecue, my biggest regret is not getting a beef rib (in addition to, not instead of the other things). Yes, it’s expensive, and there’s no way I could eat it all, but damn it looked good.

Overall, my meal at La Barbecue was incredible. The next day, Rudy and I had plans to hit up Franklin’s, so I was pumped to be able to compare the two. Leaving La Barbecue, my only thought was that I had a hard time understanding how it would equal or exceed what I had just eaten.

Ratings:
Atmosphere/Ambiance – 2.5 hogs (bumped down due to heat, lack of free beer, and slow service)
Brisket – 5 hogs
Pork – 5 hogs
Sausage – 3 hog
Sides – N/A
Overall – 5 Hogs (the brisket and pork were good enough that nothing else mattered)
La Barbecue Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

IMG_1611

Bill Spoon’s Barbecue – Charlotte, NC (RE-REVIEW)

IMG_9999
Name
: Bill Spoon’s Barbecue
Date: 7/14/17
Address: 5524 South Boulevard  Charlotte, NC 28217
Order: Large chopped pork plate with slaw, baked beans, hush puppies, and sweet tea (link to menu)
Price: $13

Monk: As I was compiling the latest Charlotte Big Board update in March, I noticed a disturbing lack of NC-centric barbecue joints on the list. Four of the top 5 are Texas-style joints (Jon G’s Barbecue, Midwood Smokehouse and Smokeshack, and The Smoke Pit), and Boone’s doesn’t adhere to either eastern or Lexington-style tradition. Clearly, it was time to revisit some NC joints around town.

First on my list (once I got around to it a few months later) was Bill Spoon’s Barbecue, a whole hog eastern NC joint that is not all that inconvenient for me but which I tend to overlook. The last time we checked in was in 2015 and Speedy focused on the ribs which were a new menu item at the time. I considered the ribs but between the fact that the two-meat combo is a bit pricey and that Speedy wasn’t blown away by them last time, I steered clear and stuck with the large pork combo.

Looking back at old reviews, I think we underrated the pork at Spoon’s just a little bit. The chopped pork was tangy, flavorful, and moist. As I recalled, it was good on its own but was enhanced nicely by the table vinegar sauce. I gotta say, it was a nice change of pace to only get pork for once instead of getting all of the meats and having tons of leftovers.

The hush puppy basket was late in arriving, coming after our plates had come. But that likely saved me from overeating on the delicious, slightly-sweet cornmeal pups. I have come to appreciate the mustard-based slaw, even if it will never be my favorite style. And the beans were fine.

Me and the Monkettes got some naner pudding to go and if I’m being truthful, it was half the reason why I wanted to revisit Spoon’s. Just ridiculously good.

I left the meal full and satisfied, with a thought in my head. Bill Spoon’s Barbecue has been around for 54 years and will (hopefully) be there for many more, but on a Friday night the dining room hovered between 25-50% occupied. If I have anything to do with it, we need to make Bill Spoon’s more of a thing.

For more reviews, check out:
Marie, Let’s Eat! (2009)
Marie, Let’s Eat! (2016)
Big Wayner’s BBQ (2011)
Our original review in 2012
Speedy’s review in 2015

Ratings:
Atmosphere – 4 hogs
Pork – 4 hogs
Sides – 4 hogs
Overall – 4 hogs

Bill Spoon's Barbecue Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

Old Hickory Bar-B-Q – Owensboro, KY

IMG_1566
Name: Old Hickory Bar-B-Q
Date: 7/1/17
Address: 338 Washington Avenue, Owensboro, KY 42301
Order: Combination plate – mutton, mutton ribs, pork (fries and onion rings) (link to menu)
Price: $14.50

Speedy: After my recent relocation to Nashville, I found myself to be in close proximity to the state of Kentucky, which really only has two things I care about – horse racing and bourbon. On a Saturday afternoon starting a long weekend, I found myself with nothing to do, so I decided to make the drive up to see if I could add ‘cue to my “reasons to go to Kentucky” list. I chose Owensboro, as the that seems to be the most famous place for Kentucky’s meat of choice – mutton.

Monk: As always, I appreciate the dedication in driving long distances to try new joints. And seeing as how I don’t see Rudy or me making it to Western Kentucky anytime soon, thanks for biting the bullet and checking out the mutton. I couldn’t have been more curious as to how you would find it once I saw you were checking it out.

Speedy: After the considerable drive (which may have included stops at a couple of distilleries)…

Monk: …ah, there it is…

Speedy: …I pulled into Old Hickory Bar-B-Que to see a traditional looking ‘cue joint with a sign claiming “five generations of quality bar-b-q”.

Monk: So far so good, although can we talk about how Owensboro fancies itself to be the “Barbecue Capital of the World”? Were you aware of this during your trip and if so, how did you feel betraying Lexington, NC like that?

Speedy: No, I wasn’t aware, but I’m not surprised. There are a lot of false idols in this world, Monk, and you can’t avoid them all.

I walked in and was seated at a booth, where I quickly ordered a combination plate with three meats – I chose two kinds of mutton (traditional and ribs) and pork (you can take the boy out of North Carolina…). The food came out quickly and I dug in.

The portions were more than generous. I started with the pork, which was chopped super fine – even finer than Lexington style. In fact, it almost looked like a sloppy Joe. But the flavor was good – it was pre-sauced with a vinegary sauce. It was pretty decent and didn’t require any more sauce, but I felt it did lose a bit of the pork flavor. I also would have loved to have a little bark in with the pork, but it was just fine.

Monk: From the photos, I do believe that pork looks to have the consistency of refried beans just a little bit. At least it was still somewhat tasty, according to you.

Speedy: As for the mutton, I’ll have to describe both cuts of meat at the same time, because I honestly couldn’t tell the difference. There were big chunks of mutton meat that were tender and easy to pull. The tenderness was the best part of the meat. The flavor was somewhat bland and gamey. Adding either sauce (a vinegar base and a sweet heat sauce) helped, but overall, I didn’t find the mutton to be that enjoyable.

Monk: I could really try to shoehorn a “Seinfeld” quote in here, but I think I’ll refrain…

Speedy: The sides were fine (I stuck to the fried variety), but overall, I didn’t think the meal was that great. I don’t feel great writing this review, as I don’t think Old Hickory Bar-B-Q did anything wrong – I just think mutton is not a great meat, which is why no one else cooks it.  

For more reviews of Old Hickory Bar-B-Q, check out:
Marie, Let’s Eat!

Ratings:
Atmosphere/Ambiance – 3.5 hogs
Pork – 3 hogs
Mutton – 2 hogs
Sides – 3 hogs
Overall – 2.5 hogs
Old Hickory Bar-B-Q Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

IMG_1563

The Smoke Daddy – Chicago, IL

IMG_1525
Name: The Smoke Daddy
Date: 6/17/17
Address: 1804 W Division St., Chicago, IL
Order: Taste of the Daddy – baby back ribs, burnt ends, pulled pork, fries, collards (link to menu)
Price: $25

Speedy: By now, most of my friends are aware of this little barbecue adventure I’m on with Monk and Rudy, and so they have a tendency to suggest ‘cue when I come to visit. This has turned out really well in some cases, terrible in others (I’m looking at you, Boomsauce). Let’s see how the Smoke Daddy stacks up.

Monk: With a name like Smoke Daddy….well, I actually don’t know what to expect. I do know that that I am definitively not a fan of that name, though. Speaking of Boomsauce, Smoke Daddy does sound like somewhere he’d take us. A place where they’d have crappy t-shirts with bad graphics and not-clever innuendo all over it.

Speedy: First off, I want to say a big thanks to my (non-barbecue) bro Berg for letting me put in the full order. He really knows when to let the pros step in. The ribs were part of the deal, and pork was a given. I tacked on burnt ends because I don’t get them too often. Add on fries and collards and we were set.

The food came out looking great, but there was a lot of sauce on everything. I get this on ribs and burnt ends, but I prefer for pork to not be overly sauced. The meat was nice and tender, though, and pulled into decent sized chunks with a nice bark. I would rate the pork as decent to good, but not anything better than that.

The burnt ends were similar. While I expect these to be sauced coming out, I still want the meat to do most of the talking. That wasn’t really the case here, as the sauce was the star. Still enjoyable, and cooked well, but I wanted a little more.

The ribs were my favorite meat. Even though they were baby backs, they were nice and meaty. They were cooked to a nice tenderness without falling off the bone. I got a nice pork flavor, which this time mixed well with the sauce.

Monk: Any idea what kind of smoker they are working with here?

Speedy: No, but I have to assume it was a gasser, just based on the space the occupied. Not sure where they’d fit a stick burner in a crowded Chicago neighborhood.

Overall, the Smoke Daddy puts out a nice product. I think they purposefully feature the sauce in all of their dishes, which I think is a bit of a shame, as I think they do a good job with their smoke. So if you find yourself in Chicago with a hankerin’ for ‘cue, you could do worse than the Smoke Daddy

Ratings:
Atmosphere/Ambiance – Not rated (outdoor patio was nice, but I never went inside)
Pork – 3 hogs
Burnt Ends – 3 hog
Ribs – 3.5 hogs
Sides – 2 hogs
Overall – 3 Hogs
Smoke Daddy Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato