Linkdown: 1/9/19

Kathleen Purvis is looking forward to Noble Smoke when it opens in a few months

Mac’s Speed Shop opening a store in Wilmington was the #2 food story for the Wilmington Business Journal in 2018

The Improper Pig opened a second store in Fort Mill just after the new year after unexpectedly finding a 100+ year original advertising mural during renovations

Daniel Vaughn’s best Texas barbecue bites from joints outside of the TMBBQ Top 50

Thrillist’s list of best barbecue joints in Kansas City

Speaking of Kansas City, I was recently pointed to a new-to-me barbecue blog by BBQ Tourist called Joe’s Barbecue Quest who recently published a review of Jones Bar-B-Que

More Sweet Lew’s coverage, this time from new alt-weekly upstart QC Nerve

Justin Timberlake joins the ranks of Obama, Hillary, and Bill Murray as patrons of Midwood Smokehouse while in Charlotte. His reported order was burnt ends, collards and beans

Linkdown: 1/24/18

– Three Charlotte barbecue restaurants make this fries list, including The Improper Pig’s sweet potato waffle fries, Midwood Smokehouse’s pimento cheese fries, and Seoul Food Meat Co.’s kimchi fries

 

– Bob Garner’s latest for The Daily Reflector waxes poetic on The Angus Barn in Raleigh

– For these cold we’ve been experiencing the past few weeks, Midwood Smokehouse has seven new soups for the soul including the loaded baked potato with pulled pork and brisket and a brunswick stew

– Men’s site The Manual has a podcast on barbecue and booze

Finally, the conversation turns toward what the panel was all waiting for: booze pairings. Slaughter suggests (and the guys all agreed) the best booze pairing for barbecue is a definitely a whisk(e)y with a smokey, peaty flavor. Scotch is possibly the most appropriate since it calls back to the smokiness of the meat. The group also touches on wine pairings, emphasizing that a bolder, heavier, red wine is best, such as a Zinfandel or a Napa Cabernet.

– RIP

– Bib’s Downtown in Winston-Salem contributed some comfort food recipes for the local Fox affiliate

– Keanu voice: Whoa.

The Improper Pig – Charlote, NC (RE-REVIEW)

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Name: The Improper Pig
Date: 11/3/17
Address: 110 S Sharon Amity Rd Charlotte, NC 28211
Order: The Cotswold Platter with pulled pork and smoked andouille with asian slaw and collards (link to menu)
Price: $14.99

Monk: Back in late 2014, Speedy and I checked out The Improper Pig within a few weeks of it opening and found it somewhat promising but that they were perhaps still working out the kinks that come with opening a new restaurant. Fast forward nearly 3 years later, and to paraphrase former Arizona Cardinals head coach Dennis Green, they are who we thought they were.

The restaurant interior has changed a bit in the past 3 years. Whereas it used to be dimly lit (which I recall made it hard to take decent photos), the restaurant is now much brighter inside. I also think they have become popular with families with kids, so it would make sense not to have it so dark inside.

I didn’t take a peek into the open kitchen this time around, but I assume The Improper Pig is still using a Southern Pride gasser. Out of it, they are still able to coax some decently smoky meats – pork and andouille sausage this time around for me – but its still not quite there in order to be one of the better barbecue restaurants in Charlotte.

As was the case on our first visit, they still get creative with their sides and many have a slight asian bent. Mrs. Monk and I did try a southern egg roll, but the texture inside was mostly mushy as it is just sweet potato hash and collards inside with a drizzle of hot asian mustard. Certainly not as well executed as the southern egg rolls I’ve tried from The Pit in Raleigh. The asian slaw was more or less a small salad with ginger dressing, though, and I regretted ordering it just a tiny bit. The collards were fine but perhaps overly spicy. While the sides were the best part of the last meal years ago, they didn’t measure up on this visit.

So where does this land us? The restaurant is kid-friendly and I could see myself trying their brisket and ribs next time but I won’t necessarily be in a rush to make it back out. The Improper Pig is still a pretty good concept but yet again the execution isn’t quite there for me.

Ratings:
Atmosphere – 3 hogs
Pork – 3 hogs
Sausage – 3 hogs
Sides – 2.5 hogs
Overall – 3 hogs
The Improper Pig Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Linkdown: 9/27/17

– The Whole Hog Barbecue Championship is this weekend in Raleigh (along with the Wide Open Bluegrass Festival)

More coverage from HuffPost

– Marie, Let’s Eat! explores south central Kentucky barbecue; one of the two joints is in the town of Tompkinville, which may have more barbecue joints per capita than Lexington, NC (we even get a brief shoutout!)

– Some photos taken immediately after the fire at Franklin Barbecue

– For the next time you have leftovers after smoking

– Midwood Smokehouse’s burger made of chuck and brisket (and topped with a slice of brisket for an extra $2) makes Charlotte Magazine’s list of best burgers in the city

– Even Phoenix is getting in on the barbecue journalism; their new barbecue column “Smoke Rings” just started

– A couple of barbecue joints on this list – Bar-B-Q King and The Improper Pig

Linkdown: 3/22/17

– Will Bigham and Christopher Soto of The Improper Pig in Charlotte are doing great work feeding 400 homeless while The Salvation Army’s kitchen undergoes renovations

– Congrats to Luella’s  Bar-B-Que in Asheville for 10 years of being open

Luella’s has teamed with Asheville’s Hi-Wire Brewing Co. to create Pig on a Wire Anniversary Ale, an amber honey-wheat ale that goes well with barbecue.

– Elliott Moss is one of Zagat’s 9 southern chefs to watch this year

– Speaking of Buxton Hall, they make the list of Garden & Gun’s fried chicken bucket list for NC

– TMBBQ on Barbecue (the film)

– John Lewis joined CBS This Morning and brought some recipes for his upcoming Tex-Mex restaurant in Charleston, Juan Luis

– Great sign at Chubby’s Bar-B-Q in Chattanooga. The barbecue? According to Marie, Let’s Eat!: ehhhhh

– A short video on Wilber’s Barbecue in Goldsboro from The Southern Weekend

– If you don’t know, now you know:

Linkdown: 5/25/16

– Another writeup on Rien Fertel’s latest book, The One True Barbecue, with the tagline “Get to Ayden before it’s too late”…now too late for what, I’m not quite sure

– Speaking of Ayden, this past weekend it became home to the Kings of Q BBQ Cook-off and Festival

– Three questions with The Improper Pig, who started a food truck just in time for the summer

– A very interesting read on how Daniel Vaughn helped Tuffy Stone’s Cool Smoke competition team lose at this month’s Memphis in May

– Vaughn also weighs in with an appreciation of The Salt Lick, which sometimes gets unfairly maligned as “overrated”

– The Wall Street Journal profiles Melissa Cookston, “the most decorated woman in competitive barbecue” (h/t)

– Grant’s latest Georgia barbecue stops: The Butt Hutt in Athens, Tucker’s Bar-B-Q in Macon, Hudson’s BBQ in Roberta, and Piggie Park in Thomaston

– Catching up with Robert Moss’ latest entries for The Daily South: a writeup on The One True Barbecue and the end of a Savannah BBQ legend; here’s an excerpt from the first linked article on whole hog:

Whether the whole hog tradition is dying out or evolving into a new form is left unsettled. By the end of the story, Chris Siler at Siler’s Old Time has switched to pork shoulders after it got too hard to procure whole hogs, and Ricky Parker is gone, dead from liver disease at only 51. At the same time, a new generation of cooks from other walks of life, like Tyson Ho at Arrogant Swine in Brooklyn, NY, and Elliot Moss at Buxton Hall in Asheville, NC, have made the “journey into the madness of whole-hog fanaticism.”

– Always worth revisiting the basics

Linkdown: 2/17/16

An interview with John Lewis ahead of his move  to bring Texas barbecue to Charleston

– Grant writes about fantastic barbecue around SC for Tabelog

– Speaking of Tabelog, Monk also wrote an article for them on underrated barbecue restaurants in NC

– Over on Marie, Let’s Eat! he revisits Old Clinton Bar-B-Q in Gray, GA

– Picnic, Midwood Smokehouse, and The Improper Pig all mentioned:

– Seoul Food Meat Co, a new restaurant with a “traditional BBQ menu…with an asian twist”, is set to open for dinner sometime this week in Charlotte

– EDIA Maps, the folks behind the Great NC BBQ and Beer Maps, is creating a Charlotte Adventure Map

– It’s been too long; I need to get back to Red Bridges

Linkdown: 5/20/15

– In cool local barbecue and beer news, Birdsong Brewing is brewing a small batch beer with the help of Queen City Q

– Congrats to Mac’s Speed Shop as they took 5th in whole hog at last weekend’s Memphis in May

– Charlotte food writer Kathleen Purvis breaks down 5 new barbecue books from 12 Bones, Franklin Barbecue, and more

– Charlotte Five points out what you can eat at The Improper Pig for under $20 (tip not included)

– Chef Ben Adams of Durham’s Piedmont is leaving that restaurant to open a barbecue restaurant in North Durham with Wyatt Dickson, whom he met back in college at UNC

– Meanwhile, The AP Stylebook gets things horribly, horribly wrong: barbecue is a noun not a verb

– This opinion article from blues singer Pam Saulsby contains some updates on Ed Mitchell’s next venture

A reliable source tells me that while Mr. Mitchell’s Que Restaurant and Blues Experience is no longer in business at The American Tobacco Campus in Durham, there are plans to re-open in a larger location. In fact, Mitchell has his eye on two locations: one between Chapel Hill and Durham and another on the outskirts of Raleigh.

– Robert Moss has a list of the top 5 southern barbecue sides, broken down by region, in his latest column

– Catching up with prior posts from Moss, one on Aaron Franklin winning a James Beard award and another on shoulder clod, “Texas’s forgotten bbq star”

– If you’re smoking barbecue at home (and you should), here’s some great info on what wood to use for what meat

– The Men In Blazers met up with GFOP’s (great friends of the pod) at Joe’s Kansas City last week

Linkdown: 1/14/15

– Barbecue Bros fave Midwood Smokehouse is adding a Ballantyne location so that folks in suburbia can have good barbecue too; it will also allow them to expand their catering operations with the space’s larger kitchen

– Charlotte Observer restaurant critic checks out The Improper Pig and has mixed reviews

The place’s selection of sauces also include a sweet/spicy traditional, an Eastern-style and a mustard one, plus versions dubbed Korean, Thai and teriyaki. You’ll want to try them, and use at least one liberally. A half chicken, smoked, had more moisture than the pork, though not much more flavor. Wings were OK, and go for $10 a pound, in our case eight wings.

– Over in the Triangle, Big Mike’s Brew N Que opens in Cary; half barbecue restaurant, half bottle shop

– Robert Moss breaks down the unique regional variations of brunswick stew

– Speaking of which, in his latest column he moves away from exploring certain dishes to reviewing a barbecue joint; first up, its B’s Cracklin BBQ in Savannah, who only opened last October but is cooking heritage breed hogs over all types of wood

– Steve Raichlen predicts barbecue trends in 2015

The Eater National 38 includes Franklin Barbecue and Gunshow in Atlanta, which serves whole hog barbecue

– Daniel Vaughn’s most underrated barbecue meats and sides in Austin

– Useful NC infographic

– King’s in Kinston gets the Our State Carolina ‘Cue treatment

The Improper Pig – Charlotte, NC

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Name
: The Improper Pig
Date: 12/19/14
Address: 110 S Sharon Amity Rd Charlotte, NC 28211
Order: Monk: Cotswold platter with pulled pork, sliced brisket, asian slaw, and sweet potato hash; Speedy: Half rack of St. Louis ribs with collards (link to menu)
Price: Monk: $12; Speedy: $14

Monk: If memory serves, The Improper Pig might be the first new barbecue restaurant to open in Charlotte since City Smoke over 2.5 years ago (whose disappointment by Speedy in part led to the creation of this blog). It is brought to you by the same folks who run The Pizza Peel and local franchises of The Flying Biscuit and Moe’s and is located in a former Mama Fu’s in the Cotswold shopping center (interestingly, they kept the wok to use in several of their barbecue dishes). So you know that Speedy and I had to check it out at first opportunity.

Speedy: The restaurant certainly has a “new school” feel. Without knowing anything about it, you wouldn’t guess barbecue restaurant walking in. It is not well lit and you’re greeted by a hostess. You can see into the kitchen, including the smoker. While the restaurant isn’t overly pricey, it has more of an upscale feel than your typical ‘cue joint. In order to sample as wide a variety as possible, Monk ordered a Cotswold platter (two-meat combo) with pork and brisket and I ordered the half rack of ribs. We also talked Mrs. Monk into upgrading to the Cotswold platter in order to allow us to try to sausage as well.

Monk: The Improper Pig (great name, btw) and its pitmaster Will Bigham utilize a Southern Pride gasser, which as Speedy alluded to is visible in the kitchen. While it is a shame that they are going this route, it’s not completely unexpected. That’s not to say that you can’t get good meat out of one of these, but you unfortunately you can pretty much tell that they are using a gasser in the pork and brisket. They both have some bark but neither is as smokey as I would have liked. Seeing as this was maybe the second week of the restaurant being open, Speedy and I discussed that they still might be figuring things out with the smoker, so we tried to be somewhat understanding. And to be fair, what they did serve that night wasn’t bad. It just wasn’t great yet.

Speedy: The ribs were somewhat disappointing as well. While they were tender and had decent flavor, they were cooked and served with the membrane still attached, and it was noticeable. I know people have different opinions on this, but I just don’t enjoy eating the membrane, as I think it’s harder to chew. The andouille sausage was decent, but could have used more snap. Overall, I just think that all the meats were overcooked, which was particularly noticeable with the brisket and ribs. It could just be that the pit masters were still figuring out the intricacies of the smoker, so I’ll go back and try again in a month or two. Like Monk, I didn’t dislike any of the meats, but I also wasn’t overly impressed.

Monk: On this night, the sides may have been the best part of the meal, though they aren’t your regular barbecue sides. They don’t have hush puppies or traditional cornbread on the menu, instead going with a small corn biscuit which I could have taken or left. The house slaw was mayo-based, so I went with the asian slaw which was quite good (and a nod to the asian spin on some of their barbecue dishes). The sweet potato hash was essentially mashed sweet potatoes and was different but I enjoyed it. Most of the rest of their sides looked worthy of an order in the future, with nearly all being vegetarian friendly.

Speedy: I thought the collards were really good as well. I’m on record as saying I don’t like taking sides into account when judging a ‘cue joint, but here, they were good enough to really add to the meal. There are also several non-traditional menu items that I’d like to try, including the asian inspired tacos and southern egg rolls. So while The Improper Pig doesn’t top the list of Charlotte barbecue joints, I’ll definitely be back.

Ratings:
Atmosphere/Ambiance – 3 hogs
Pork – 3 hogs
Brisket – 2.5 hogs
Ribs – 2.5 hogs
Sides – 4 hogs
Overall – 3 Hogs
The Improper Pig on Urbanspoon

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