Rock Store Bar-B-Q – Stallings, NC (Re-review)

Name: Rock Store Bar-B-Q
Location: 3116 Old Monroe Rd, Stallings, NC
Order: Sandwich combo – pulled pork sandwich, red slaw, cornbread
Pricing: $

Monk: After spending most of my energy the past two year on the Lexington Big Board, I figured it was time to start revisiting some Charlotte joints where it’s been awhile. Case in point: my second visit to Rock Store Bar-B-Q was nearly 9 years after my first. On that visit, I wondered if this might become a regular lunch spot for me due to its proximity to my client at the time. Spoiler alert: it didn’t.

Prices have gone up slightly but my sandwich combo was still a reasonable $7.25 including tax compared to $6 in 2012. Much the same as my last visit, I found that the pork was tender while not having much smoke to it. Through the Great NC BBQ Map, it has been confirmed that they smoke in a gasser with wood added in, which is obviously a little different than the “wood smoked” they advertise on their sign. The sandwich absolutely needed red slaw and their vinegar sauce plus a few dashes of Texas Pete. Once that was done, it was very satisfying.

I chose corn bread as my side and they instantly pulled out a foiled brick from some sort of warming container. Which brings me to one point in regards to the speed of fulfilling the order. Once I placed my order, they pulled out a pre-made sandwich wrapped in foil, a small plastic container of red slaw, and this brick of corn bread within a matter of seconds. Everything was the right temperature and I was eating within a minute or so of ordering, so I don’t really have any complaints but this is obviously a different approach than most places.

As for the corn bread it was definitely on the sweeter side and I like that it was warm. The red slaw was their spin on a barbecue slaw and the cabbage was chopped a little coarser than I’d prefer but it did the trick to complement the chopped pork.

I was happy with my second visit to the Stallings Rock Store Bar-B-Q. It’s not a destination barbecue joint but for a quick and cheap lunch it does a good job. They seem to be doing steady business as well as they were churning out the lunch orders while I was there. I can see them getting a slight bump on the Charlotte Big Board.

Ratings:
Atmosphere/Ambiance – 3.5 hogs
Pork – 3.5 hogs
Sides – 3.5 hogs
Overall – 3.5 hogs

Legal Remedy Brewing – Rock Hill, SC

Name: Legal Remedy Brewing Brewpub
Address: 129 Oakland Ave, Rock Hill, SC 29730
Order: Pulled pork sandwich (link to menu)
Pricing: $$

Monk: Legal Remedy Brewing opened their original brewpub in 2015 in an old auto dealership in Old Town Rock Hill. In addition to the beer, the original location serves upscale brewpub eats with a focus on house smoked meats, going so far as to have a “Warden of Woodsmoke” overseeing the menu. Those smoked meats included pork, brisket, turkey, and wings but there is also a smoked meatloaf dish on the menu.

It would seem as if Legal Remedy is finding success in Rock Hill as they have since opened a second location in the form of a farm to table restaurant dubbed the “Legal Remedy Cantina” that serves seasonal food from local farmers and producers. The brewpub location on the old auto lot has quite a bit of outdoor seating when the weather is nice and it was pretty packed on a clear Saturday night when I visited recently with the Monk clan in tow.

Having ordered the southern poutine appetizer between Mrs. Monk and me, I went simply with the pulled pork sandwich instead of the Carnivore Sampler platter with all of the meats. The southern poutine is topped with smoked jalapeño pimento cheese, pepper jelly, and crumbled LRBacon and was a wonderful, if not exactly needed, start.

The pulled pork sandwich was comprised of pork that was not overly smoky but once the it was topped with the coleslaw and LRBeer BQ sauce it was more than passable. I gobbled it up pretty quickly and without complaint.

In addition to the other standard brewpub fare, there’s also a smoked meatloaf made from the trimmings of  their smoked turkey, beef brisket, kielbratsas (from The Peach Stand), and pork, mixing with ground beef. Brunswick stew is also on the menu as are house cured versions of reuben and pastrami sandwiches. Plus their beer is not too bad either.

Much like Pinehurst Brewing (which I reviewed earlier this year), Legal Remedy has put a focus on smoked meats to above average results. Next time I’m back in the area, I’ll check out the rest of their smoked meats.

Ratings:
Atmosphere/Ambiance – 4 hogs
Pork – 2.5 hogs
Sides – 4 hogs
Overall – 2.5 hogs

The Ultimate Charlotte Barbecue Plate (2021)

Monk: A lot (and I mean, a lot) has changed since the last time I did a “Best of Charlotte” series in 2016. Boone’s Bar-B-Que Kitchen and Queen City Q, both winners in several categories, are both no longer in business. Neither are Sauceman’s or Bill Spoon’s, who in 2016 placed in ribs and pork respectively.

The Smoke Pit had the best brisket at the time and since then Jon G’s, Sweet Lew’s, and Noble Smoke have all opened their doors with wood-smoked brisket that each edges out the offerings from The Smoke Pit.

Midwood Smokehouse didn’t top any one category in 2016 but still had a strong showing by being in the top three in each of the five categories: pork, brisket, ribs, sausage, and other. Thankfully, they are still around and are well represented on this list.

Now, onto our picks for the “Ultimate Charlotte Barbecue Plate.”

Pork – Noble Smoke

Jim Noble and team are carrying on the 100+ years-old legacy of Lexington-style barbecue at Noble Smoke in west Charlotte. Simply rubbed with salt and pepper and smoked directly over wood coals in their custom brick masonry pit (named “John”) whose design was borrowed with permission from family friends the Monk family of Lexington Barbecue, upon tasting the pork transports you an hour or so north up I-85.

Honorable Mention: Sweet Lew’s BBQ

Brisket – Jon G’s Barbecue

The meat that put Jon G’s on the map. Of their many spectacular smoked meats, the brisket is the one must order every time you go. Do it and you won’t be disappointed. Trust me.

Honorable Mention: Noble Smoke

Ribs – The Smoke Pit

This one was a surprise from a recent trip that Speedy and I took to the Gastonia location of the local mini-chain of restaurants in late 2020. On that visit, Speedy noted that the dry rub ribs had the perfect bite with just the right amount of spice. I couldn’t agree more and it was the standout meat of that meal.

Honorable Mention: Jon G’s

Sausage – Cheerwine Hot Link from Jon G’s

A truly unique sausage made in-house at Jon G’s, with Salisbury, NC-based Cheerwine taking the place of the water used in the sausage-making process. The end result isn’t overly sweet or “Cheerwine-y” but it does impart a slight sweetness to counteract the heat of the jalapeno.

Honorable Mention: Sweet Lew’s BBQ

Beef Rib – Midwood Smokehouse

The beef rib is a weekend special at Midwood Smokehouse and upon my last visit is available every week for a cut-rate price of $32, well below what you would pay if it were charged by the pound.

Honorable Mention: Jon G’s BBQ (not available all weekends)

Side – Hash and rice from Sweet Lew’s BBQ

Hash and rice isn’t something you find in Charlotte, much less North Carolina, as its almost strictly a South Carolina barbecue dish. Sweet Lew’s differs from what you would find at True BBQ in West Columbia or Sweatman’s in Holly Hill in that instead of the off parts of the pig it uses pork as well as brisket, but I just love that they now offer it fulltime on their menu whereas it used to be a Wednesday special only.

Honorable Mentions: Pork skins from Sweet Lew’s BBQ, Smoked Meatballs from Midwood Smokehouse, Smoked wings from Noble Smoke

Pinehurst Brewing Company – Pinehurst, NC

Name: Pinehurst Brewing Company & Smokehouse
Address: 300 Magnolia Road, Pinehurst, NC 28374
Order: Smokehouse sampler with hush puppies, mac and cheese, and collards (link to menu)
Pricing: $$

In 2019 as part of Pinehurst’s efforts to maintain and improve upon their courses and resort offerings, Pinehurst Brewing Company opened in the brick building that housed the town’s former steam plant that had powered the resort since 1895. On the beer side, they recruited the head brewer Eric Mitchell from the well-regarded Heist Brewing in Charlotte. As for food, smoked meats plays a huge part in the menu and head smoker Chris Dowd also originally came from the Queen City (though he moved to Laurinburg in 1989). He quit his office job about 20 years ago for barbecue and eventually made his way to Pinehurst Brewing when they opened in 2019.

Inside the historic brick building, they have certainly played up the heritage of the old plant. Weathered photos cover the walls, In the sunroom where we were seated, all tables were made from a single tree that was on the property including the two large high top tables that each can seat 10-12. Underneath the naturally-edged table, the legs are comprised of old pipes, valves, tanks, dials and fittings.

The menu states that the meats from the smokehouse are smoked on “high quality local oak and hickory woods” and while I wasn’t able to lay eyes on the smoker itself, this interview with Dowd claims they are using a stick burner.

As is standard, I went with the sampler to try a bit of everything on the menu. The chopped pork was a large large portion that had some rub sprinkled on top but unfortunately I didn’t get a lot of smoke and found it to be just average. There are four sauces to choose from including an eastern NC vinegar sauce, which gave the barbecue the tang I was looking for.

Brisket came in just one thin slide and had good bark and flavor. The sausage was a bit overdone; charred on the outside, but paired well with the IPA beer mustard sauce. The smoked chicken was well smoked and they managed to make the skin crispy, not rubbery

The sides were strong at Pinehurst Brewing. The sampler comes with two sides and we added another; we went with mac and cheese, collards, and hush puppies. All were well executed and Mrs. Monk gave the collards praise, which isn’t always a given considering how seriously she takes her collards.

Pinehurst Brewing Company will be part of the recently announced Pinehurst Barbecue Festival in September, and they have a good thing going in less than two years up and running. On a warmer day, they have a great beer garden and outdoor bar which would be a nice way to enjoy a beer after a round of golf or after a meal.

Ratings:
Atmosphere/Ambiance – 4 hogs
Brisket – 3 hogs
Pork – 3 hogs
Sausage – 3 hogs
Chicken – 3 hogs
Sides – 4 hogs
Overall – 3 hogs