Brick’s Smoked Meats – Sarasota, FL

Name: Brick’s Smoked Meats
Date: 9/16/21
Address: 1528 State St, Sarasota, FL 34236
Order: Two Texas Trios (Double pork, double brisket, ribs, turkey), add two sausage links, double collards, Brussel sprouts, coleslaw), bacon burnt ends, 2 orders wings, fries (link to menu)
Pricing: $$$

Monk: Long-time readers know that when on our annual guys trip there’s always a good opportunity for two or even hopefully all three Bros to be in the same place. And when that happens, the chance for barbecue-eating is high: we’ve been to The Salt Lick, Boney’s Smokehouse BBQ in Denver, Bitterroot BBQ in Seattle, Martin’s in Nashville, Woodlands Barbeque in Blowing Rock, NC, and last year two spots in Ohio: Ray Ray’s Hog Pit and Rudy’s Smokehouse. As you can tell by the mixed bag of results, we tend to find barbecue places where we travel as opposed to travelling specifically for barbecue.  

Now, with our most recent trip being to Siesta Key, Florida for some deep sea fishing, I didn’t have high hopes for barbecue. But by chance while killing time with friend-of-the-blog Boomsauce at a nearby beer garden waiting for the rest of the crew to fly in, Brick’s Smoked Meats in downtown Sarasota came onto my radar. A little research yielded the fact that despite sitting on the ground level of a parking deck they use “a fire-engine red J&R Oyler Pit smoker that stands almost two stories tall” and that sealed the deal. Next thing you know it, post-airport pickup we’re standing at the door supposedly to a place “where Texas ‘cue meets Florida flair.” We’ll see about that.

Speedy: Brick’s Smoked Meats was on the ground level of the State Street parking garage and had a big dining room and large bar. Our party of seven easily fit at a long table just by the bar, and a server was quickly by to take our order (which was pretty much a little bit of everything). We ordered some beers (including a fave barbecue pairing in Shiner Bock), and we were off and rolling.

As appetizers, the wings and bacon burnt ends came out first. The wings were good, but didn’t get as much smoke on them as I like. We got them tossed in both spicy and sweet barbecue sauce, but I couldn’t tell the difference. So while I’ve had better smoked wings, this was still a pretty good start.

The bacon burnt ends were great. They were melt in your mouth pork belly slathered in a sweet barbecue sauce that perfectly complemented the savory, salty meat. Honestly, we should have saved these for dessert. This is a must order item if you visit Brick’s.

Rudy: Once the main course trays came, I made sure to scout out the different meats and grab a bite of the good stuff before it was taken by others. I always want to make sure to get a piece of the brisket because, for me, it’s the easiest way to determine if a barbecue place knows what they are doing or not. The brisket to me was average at best. It was clear to me that it had been made much earlier and was reheated upon ordering. It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t anything memorable either. With all of the other meats to choose from, I would lean away from the brisket. 

I also made sure to try a rib, which was much better. The meat was very tender, had a good flavor, and didn’t need sauce to go with it (but they did offer 3 different sauces at the table in case you wanted to add to the flavor. As far as a side order, I really enjoyed the collard greens. They were cooked with bacon and had plenty of flavor and tasted like greens that I used to get at ‘meat and three’ restaurants in North Carolina. 

Monk: The house sausage on that day was a jalapeno cheddar link so obviously Speedy was out. I assume they were shipped in and not made in house but were a solid meat on that meal, just a notch above the middle of the road pork.Their slaw looked to be a pre-chopped combo of cabbage and carrots and while it was not offensive in taste, it seemed an afterthought. Quick shoutout to the mini cornbread muffins that came with the combo platters.

Speedy: Loyal readers of the blog know that Monk and I have recently changed our tune and favored ordering smoked turkey. I don’t think Rudy’s there yet, but maybe Brick’s turkey would change his tune. The flavor of the turkey slice was good, and I got the smoke taste, but I found it just a touch overcooked and wanted a little more pepper. Not sure it was good enough to convert Rudy, but I’d order it again.

From a sides standpoint, the standout to me was the roasted brussels. I don’t often see these on the menu at ‘cue joints, but they’re just baby cabbages, so they fit a good barbecue meal. The flavor on the brussels was exceptional, and they were roasted to perfection. Again, something I’d highly recommend ordering.

Rudy: I’m going to have to take your word for it because with a menu full of that many good options, there’s no way I’m fitting turkey onto my plate.

We’ve had mixed results in the quality of barbecue on our trips so it’s hard to know what to expect. I was not anticipating getting any barbecue on this trip, so it was quite the pleasant surprise when Monk told us he found this place. Overall, I was impressed with the overall quality of the ‘cue and the depth of their menu. I would not have pegged Sarasota for having the quality that Brick’s had. Was it the best barbecue we’ve ever had? No. But I really liked it and would make sure to return if I was in the area again. And when you combine barbecue with the good company that we had with us, you can’t go wrong. 

Ratings:
Atmosphere/Ambiance – 3 hogs
Pork – 2.5 hogs
Brisket – 2.5 hogs
Ribs – 3.5 hogs
Turkey – 3 hogs
Bacon Burnt Ends – 4 hogs
Sausage – 3 hogs
Wings – 3 hogs
Sides – 3.5 hogs
Overall – 3 hogs

Randy’s Bar-B-Q – Savannah, GA

Name: Randy’s Bar-B-Q
Date: 6/25/21
Address: 750 Wheaton St, Savannah, GA 31401
Order: Large ribs
Pricing: $

Monk: The Monk family had occasion to spend a few nights in Savannah recently and ahead of that trip, I performed my customary barbecue research and pickings seemed to be a little slim.

B’s Cracklin’ Barbecue closed their location there late last year as Bryan Furman plans his next move in Atlanta’s westside.

Wiley’s Championship BBQ placed #2 by Southern Living readers in the 2020 poll, but its competition lineage gave me slight pause.

Unfortunately, Savannah hasn’t had a barbecue renaissance like Charleston, a city 2 hours north on Highway 17 that it so often gets compared to.

Finally, I settled upon Randy’s Bar-B-Q via True Cue’s Georgia list and despite their having no real social media presence I dropped off the wife and kids in downtown Savannah and made the short trek a few blocks outside of the eastern edge of historic downtown.

Randy’s is a black-owned barbecue joint run by Randolph Frazier, and they have quite the local following. I arrived to a line of 20-25 people which is apparently not unusual for a lunch crowd.

Unfortunately, they were out of chicken so all I went with a half rack of ribs, which came drenched in their bright orangey/yellow sauce and placed on slices of wheat bread (surely they must have been out of white).

Randy’s Bar-B-Q smokes their meat in smokers just outside of the small cubic brick building that was painted once upon a time by Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) students. This building is rather small and Randy’s is takeout only.

The ribs were well smoked and while the tangy sauce wasn’t my favorite, I recognized that Randy wasn’t catering to my taste but instead that of the community in which Randy’s serves.

Randy’s Bar-B-Q is worth a stop not only because of their smoked meats but also to step outside of your barbecue comfort zone.

Ratings:
Atmosphere/Ambiance – N/A
Ribs – 4 hogs
Overall – 4 hogs

Peg Leg Porker – Nashville, TN (RE-REVIEW)

Name: Peg Leg Porker
Date: 6/18/21
Address: 903 Gleaves St, Nashville, TN 37203
Order: Full rack of ribs, pulled pork, smoked wings, Kool-Aid pickles, cole slaw, smoked green beans, french fries (link to menu)
Pricing: $$

Monk: Peg Leg Porker is a new-school Nashville barbecue institution, even inspiring a little bit of a Martin’s vs Peg Leg rivalry for barbecue enthusiasts in the city. Despite Speedy now living in Nashville, our only other review to date was from nearly 6 years ago a few years before Speedy had even moved to Nashville. While we had briefly stopped in for some wings at the bar last time I was in town 3 years ago, I had not officially had a meal there on the books. I made sure to change that with my most recent visit to Nashville to visit Speedy as well as my real life Bros.

Speedy: Peg Leg is not my favorite barbecue in town (in fact, it comes in at #4), but it certainly is worth a visit for anyone spending any amount of time in Nashville. Located in the trendy Gulch neighborhood, it is easy to get to but gets crowded fast, so we showed up for an early-ish lunch and after a short wait, placed our order at the counter.

Monk: My understanding is that the ribs are the star of the show for Peg Leg, and this full rack did not disappoint. Peg Leg does Memphis-style dry rub ribs and there were perfect bites all around.

Speedy: Agree, Monk. The ribs have always been my favorite part of any meal at Peg Leg, and I do think these are probably best in town – maybe in the state. The generous rub offers plenty of spice and flavor, and no sauce is needed. 

The pork (served unsauced) is pretty consistent in that while flavorful, is always a little dry. There are sauces provided, but I always prefer not having to use extra sauce if not needed, but in this case, it is needed. So while still enjoyable, the pulled pork is a notch below the ribs.

Monk: The smoked then fried wings come with the drumettes, wingettes, and wing tip all attached which from my experience isn’t the norm for a wing at a barbecue restaurant.

Speedy: …Quick interjection: Central BBQ wings are also served this way. Ok, carry on…

Monk: The wings are also finished with a dry rub and were more successful than the pork for me. I had the wings on both of my trips to Peg Leg Porker, and I will probably get them on my next visit, whenever that is.

Speedy: Definitely agree, Monk. Wings and ribs are the pro order. And you know what – I’m just fine with that. The other solid order, which was skipped on this go round, is the yardbird half chicken. It uses the same rub and is equal to the wings. This is a popular item at Peg Leg, and for good reason. But not worth passing over the ribs for.

Monk: Of the sides we ordered, the one I want to call out is the Kool-aid pickles. This is a Delta-region delicacy where Kool-aid mix is literally added to the pickle juice so that the pickles take on the color and flavor (looked to be “red” on this day), resulting in a sweet and sour experience in the form of a crunchy pickle. Just awesome.

I agree with Speedy’s statement above that Peg Leg Porker is definitely worth a visit when in Nashville. Now that I’ve experienced a full meal there, I’ll go with the ribs, wings, and Kool-Aid pickles next time I visit Speedy in Nashville.

Ratings:
Atmosphere/Ambiance – 4 hogs
Ribs – 4 hogs
Pork – 3 hogs
Wings – 4 hogs
Sides – 3.5 hogs
Overall – 4 hogs