Noble Smoke – Charlotte, NC

Name: Noble Smoke
Date: 8/24/19
Address: 2216 Freedom Dr, Charlotte, NC 28208
Order: The Miss Mary Platter (1 lb brisket, 1 lb pork, 1 rack ribs, 1 lb turkey, red slaw, coleslaw, pickled veggies), 12 wings, hush puppies (link to menu)
Pricing: $$$ 

Monk: In 1919, the first Lexington-style barbecue stand was set up across the street from the courthouse in Lexington, NC by Sid Weaver. Shortly after, Jess Swicegood set up his own stand and both businesses thrived to the point of building permanent restaurants. Eventually, they would go on to train Warner Stamey in the ways of Lexington-style barbecue, and he continued to spread that gospel all over the Piedmont of North Carolina to owners who would go on to open such famed joints as Bridges Barbecue Lodge, Alston Bridges Barbecue, Lexington Barbecue, and Stamey’s own namesake restaurant, Stamey’s Barbecue

Exactly 100 years later and 60 miles to the south in Charlotte, Chef Jim Noble has finally opened up his passion project restaurant in the form of Noble Smoke, continuing the Lexington-style barbecue tradition (though he does offer a variety of smoke meats). Everyone knows Noble as the chef and restaurateur behind higher-end restaurants like Noble Grill, Rooster’s, and King’s Kitchen, but a Lexington-style barbecue restaurant has been 25 years in the making.

Speedy: Monk and I got to spend a couple hours with Noble before the restaurant opened and, though we didn’t get a chance to sample anything, I left that meeting confident that the man knew his ‘cue and had a true passion for it, so I was more than excited to sample the goods. The space Noble built is fantastic – rustic but refined, with ample seating, a large bar, a nice outdoor space, and a brewery joining next door. 

Monk: For our group of 5, the Miss Mary Platter was the perfect order as it gave us a chance to try just about all of the meats and in the right quantity. At the time of our visit, Noble Smoke still hadn’t fired up the brick masonry pits that were styled after Lexington Barbecue, so our pork was smoked in one of the six large offset smokers occupying the smoke room. As he is doing across the board, Noble is using high-quality ingredients (which you pay for, as the platter was $88) and in this case its Heritage Farms Cheshire Pork. On this day, the pork wasn’t quite the crowd favorite while still being very good. I can’t wait to try them now that they’ve fired up those brick pits.

Speedy: Noble clearly studied up on the Texas brisket he was trying to emulate. And I’ll say, he did a nice job. The prime brisket was moist, peppery, and flavorful. I had previously sworn off ordering brisket in the Carolinas, but Noble Smoke is joining Lewis Barbecue on the exception list. I rank it just a tad behind Lewis, but still a top ten brisket I’ve had in my life. I think any Texan would be impressed.

Monk: I couldn’t agree more, and also think that any Texan would also be impressed with the ribs that Noble Smoke is slinging. Rubbed generously with salt and pepper, I was relieved that Noble avoided the temptation to offer a saucy, sweet rib and instead something far more nuanced. North Carolina isn’t known for ribs and they can often be an afterthought, but these were more Texas Trinity than KC Masterpiece. By far, these were the favorite meats on the table in our group that day.

Speedy: I’m on record saying I don’t know why anyone would order smoked turkey at a barbecue restaurant given the choice of other delectable meats from our hooved friends. Well, I’m man enough to admit it – I was wrong. The turkey at Noble Smoke was probably the best I’ve had. Like the brisket, it was seasoned with just salt and (plenty of) pepper, but that was enough to tease out an incredible amount of flavor, all while retaining moisture. This is a hard thing to do with turkey, so hats off to Jim Noble for this. I wouldn’t say it was my favorite thing I had that day (that goes to the ribs), but it was the biggest surprise for me.

Monk: Like everything else, the wings from were delicious and well smoked, even if they were a bit on the small side. Noble gets his heritage chicken from Winston-Salem-based Joyce Farms, which is nice to see them source from a North Carolina operation. 

We ordered a side of the hush puppies made with Anson Mills heirloom grain corn (again, note the high quality ingredients) and the table gobbled them up pretty quickly. The Miss Mary’s Platter came with small sides of both eastern and western (red) slaw as well as pickled veggies in the form of onions, pickles, and beets. The beets were definitely different.

Speedy: Sometimes new restaurants take a few months to get up to speed and everything rolling, but Chef Jim Noble is clearly a pro and the meal we had at Noble Smoke was one of my top barbecue meals all year. Noble Smoke was designed to be a destination barbecue joint, and I think it will be just that. I’m certainly adding it to the list for every time I visit Charlotte. 

Ratings:
Atmosphere/Ambiance – 4 hogs
Pork – 3.5 hogs
Brisket – 4.5 hogs
Ribs – 5 hogs
Wings – 4 hogs
Turkey – 4.5 hogs 
Sides – 3.5 hogs
Overall – 4.5 hogs

Pig Beach – Brooklyn, NY

Name: Pig Beach
Date: 7/21/19
Address: 480 Union St, Brooklyn, NY 11231
Order: Sampler platter with ¼ rack of ribs, ¼ lb of pork shoulder, brisket, and turkey each; 2 links of Yankee red hot sausages (link to menu)
Pricing: $$

Monk: To say I’ve had a mixed history with Brooklyn barbecue would be an understatement. On one hand there was my introduction to Brooklyn barbecue at the now-closed The Smoke Joint in Fort Greene, which may be the single worst barbecue restaurant I’ve ever been to. Then, there’s the ridiculously good, 4.5 hog Hometown Bar-B-Que in Red Hook, expertly run by Billy Durney. If those are the two ends of the spectrum, just where would Pig Beach in Gowanus fall?

Despite the fact that the weekend that Mrs. Monk, the eldest Monkette, and I were in New York was during a heatwave, we opted to go to the beer garden locale of Pig Beach because in addition to having a decent reputation for barbecue it looked like a cool spot and surely there would be some shade right? The restaurant is located just off the Gowanus Canal, but thankfully we didn’t have any issues with any smells from the canal wafting into the beer garden area. In the back corner of the property behind an outdoor bar was a smokehouse comprised of a number of Ole Hickorys, which are gas-assisted wood smokers.

What we got from those Ole Hickory pits was a bit of a mixed bag. The two best meats on this day by a good margin were the brisket, which had a nice peppery bark and was well-smoked, and the “Yankee Red Hot Sausage” which is stuffed with the unique combination of provolone and hot cherry peppers. I’m no sausage expert but I definitely had not seen provolone in a sausage before. Unorthodox or not, it worked for me.

A notch below was the smoked turkey, a meat I don’t usually order at barbecue restaurants. I probably won’t start ordering it on the regular but if other restaurant’s turkey is smokey and moist along the same lines of Pig Beach, then that’s a decent option. 

The pork was bland and forgettable and the rIbs may have been holdovers from the previous day based on how chewy I found them. Both were very forgettable on this day.

For sides we picked coleslaw, mac and cheese (dusted with goldfish crumbs nonetheless), and cucumber salad. All were well executed and above average.

Pig Beach has a great setting that would have been even more pleasant had it not been in the middle of a heat wave in late July. They’ve also got no shortage of drink options from local beers to cocktails, so you can definitely stick around for awhile after you finish your meal. On the Brooklyn Barbecue Spectrum (trademark pending), they are definitely more Hometown than Smoke Joint for sure. 

Ratings:
Atmosphere/Ambiance – 4 hogs
Pork – 2.5 hogs
Brisket – 3.5 hogs
Ribs – 1.5 hogs
Sausage – 3.5 hogs
Turkey – 3 hogs
Sides – 3.5 hogs
Overall – 3 hogs

Pig Beach Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Linkdown: 11/7/18

– Smoked turkeys are available in Charlotte from Midwood Smokehouse and Sweet Lew’s BBQ

– Over 300 people have reported being sick from the annual Poplar Tent Presbyterian Church BBQ in Kannapolis, which has been going on from over 70 years

– The NC State Barbecue Championship will now be held at the Blue Ridge Theater in West Jefferson next August

– This latest (and last) season of House of Cards featured barbecue from The Federalist Pig in DC

One day about six months ago, when the sixth and final season of “House of Cards” was filming on a set outside of Baltimore, two fictional men discussed a plate of real pork ribs. “They’re from a place called Federalist Pig,” one character says to another, adding, “I’ve been told it’s the next best thing to Freddy’s.”

– A report from last weekend’s TMBBQ Festival in Austin

– Future idea:

Product Review: Maverick Industries Bluetooth Thermometer and BBQ Tool Set

In early December, Maverick Industries were kind enough to send me some products for review just in time for my annual Christmas smoke. This year, I was doing a small 5lb brisket that my brother had mailed in from Mount Pleasant Meats in Texas as well as a bone-in turkey breast.

Here was the final results of the meats, and while they didn’t turn out quite as I was hoping – I had some temperature issues which led to not being able to rest as long as I wanted – the tools were certainly not at fault and more than held their own.

-Monk

ET-735 Bluetooth Thermometer (link)

On my own dime, I’ve used previous models of the wireless meat thermometer from Maverick, but the bluetooth version is pretty slick. It has the same unit that connects to the probes that attach to the grill surface and meat. But instead of a separate unit that reads out the temperatures and sets alarms if the temps start to fall out of range, I downloaded the Redi Check app from Maverick which accomplishes the same thing. Instead of having to keep up with the other unit to monitor temperatures, I was able to just keep my phone on me as I normally do.

The package comes with two probes but it can accommodate up to 2 more for a total of four- I could have used one more myself for the turkey breast since one of them was dedicated to the grill temperature. In the app, you can set a range for your grill and meat and get notifications if either fall out of range. I set my smoker temp to stay between 225 and 275 and the get notified when the brisket flat hit 165 so I could then wrap it in foil to finish it out. I was then easily able to monitor the smoker temp using the app and could tell when it was time for more charcoal if it started dipping, All in all, the app set up is pretty intuitive and I can’t stress how nice it is not to have to carry around or keep up with another piece of equipment during the multiple hour smoking session.

Official description:
The weather-resistant ET-735 connects to your iOS or Android device via Bluetooth. No need to stand over the grill or smoker while cooking – you can enjoy your company and monitor the temperature of your food and oven from up to 160 feet away. The ET-735 allows you to connect up to four waterproof probes (ideal when cooking with sticky sauces! – comes with 2) and will alert you via its accompanying app once the desired temperature is reached. The app includes 15 preset temperatures for all types of meat, or you can input a custom temperature.

BBQ Tool Set with Instant Read Thermometer

A complaint in some Weber Style grill tools I got years ago was the fact that it didn’t come with a carrying case and the individual tools in the set could easily get separated from one another. This BBQ tool set from Maverick does have a carrying case, and its a nice heavy duty bag at that. The stainless steel fork, spatula, and tongs included in this set are all high quality and handled the rigors of moving the brisket and turkey breast on and off the smoker and onto the tray and cutting board with ease. And bonus! It also comes with a digital instant thermometer in the vein of the Thermapen that gets a temp reading within a few seconds. A very nice set.
Official description:
Set Includes
  • PT-75 Digital Instant – Read BBQ Thermometer, Stainless Steel Fork, Stainless Steel Spatula, Stainless Steel Tongs, and a Convenient Heavy-Duty Tool Bag
  • Ergonomic Handle and Holes for Hanging
  • Tool Bag Includes Customized Pocket to Hold Thermometer

Big Tiny’s BBQ – Mooresville, NC

img_7599

Name: Big Tiny’s BBQ
Date: 1/16/17
Address: 179 N Main St, Mooresville, NC 28115
Order: ¼ lb brisket, ¼ lb Texas sausage, ¼ lb pork spare ribs, Natty Greene’s Session IPA (link to menu)
Price: $16.59

Monk: While you can find a couple of pretty darn good briskets in and around Charlotte (Midwood Smokehouse and The Smoke Pit immediately come to mind), it’s usually at a place that serves a little bit of everything in terms of barbecue cuisine (John Shelton Reed calls that model the “International House of Barbecue” model). Big Tiny’s BBQ is a newish joint in Mooresville that is truly trying to replicate a Texas style joint in NC – think Rudy’s Country Store and Bar-B-Q (mainly because that is exactly what they are going for).

In addition to being super nice people, owners John and Elizabeth Maddox are both Texans that have been in Mooresville for the past 15 years. After years of John smoking as a hobby and then as a side job, they opened their location in downtown Mooresville in a beautiful space last summer. Being that they are both new to the restaurant industry – John worked in auto racing and Elizabeth in insurance – they are learning more about running a restaurant and consistency of product each day. Based on what I saw 4 months in, they are off to a great start.

The layout of Tiny’s is has guests form a line as soon as they enter before they are greeted by a couple of tubs filled with beers and soft drinks in glass bottles before stepping up to a counter where they order meats by the ¼ or ½ pound. Those meats are then sliced and weighed in front of the customer. Even for fast casual barbecue restaurants in the area, this is a unique experience where you are paying by the pound even if you aren’t buying in bulk. They wrap the meats in foil and place into a plastic carrying container (apparently another cue from Rudy’s) with butcher paper and white bread. Then off the customer goes to the long picnic-style tables with red and white gingham table cloths where they can spread out and dig in.

As for the meats, Big Tiny’s is using a Cookshack pellet smoker from Oklahoma. I am not sure if I’ve ever eaten barbecue smoked on a Cookshack but in any case they are able to get a lot of smoke onto the meats. The brisket – I don’t recall there being a choice between lean or fatty – was moist and had a nice peppery bark as well as a good tug to it. The sausage is imported from Texas and had a nice snap and spice to it. The rib was smoked nicely and didn’t pull completely away from the bone with each chew. And the turkey, which I got a few sample slices of after I sat down, was lean, well smoked, and a nice alternative. In general the meats are consistently pretty excellent.

One thing you won’t find on the menu is chopped or pulled pork, and John assured me that will always be the case, no matter how many times they may get asked from locals who are used to barbecue joints automatically serving pork. They want to stay true to their Texas roots, and in a way I can respect them for that approach.

While I only ordered meats (after having just come from Bar-B-Q King in Lincolnton), I got a small sample of the corn casserole which was fantastic. It has been adapted from a family recipe, as has several other of the scratch made sides on the menu.

Named after their first dog, whose large portrait is one of the first pictures you see as you get in line, Big Tiny’s BBQ is a worthy addition to the barbecue scene in the Charlotte area. It ably fills a niche in our pork-centric barbecue culture, and I hope that the locals give John and Elizabeth Maddox’s Texas-style joint a fair shake. I certainly plan to go back next time I’m in the area.

Ratings:
Atmosphere – 3.5 hogs
Brisket – 4 hogs
Sausage – 4 hogs
Ribs – 4 hogs
Turkey – 3.5 hogs
Sides – 4.5 hogs
Overall – 4 hogs

Linkdown: 11/23/16

– North Carolina apparently smells like blackberry and barbecue according to Homesick Candles

– The Atlanta Journal Constitution blog has a first look at B’s Cracklin’ Barbecue

– Hickory Tree BBQ in Greensboro sells turkey barbecue, and not just for Thanksgiving

– Grant continues his tour of the NC Historical Barbecue Trail with stops at Switzerland Cafe and Speedy Lohr’s of Arcadia

– Marie takes a turn writing a chapter on Stamey’s  for Marie, Let’s Eat!

Fort Mill BBQ Company – Fort Mill, SC

IMG_4373
Name
: Fort Mill BBQ Company
Date: 1/20/16
Address: 737 Stockbridge Drive, Fort Mill, SC 29708
Order: FMBBQ sampler, small side of hush puppies (link to menu)
Price: $14.80

I had tried to visit Fort Mill BBQ Company once before but had failed to pay attention to their hours and didn’t realize they were closed on Mondays. Finally, I carved out another chance and made the drive out to Fort Mill.

Inside, a slightly dark dining room with a short bar is adorned with racing and car memorabilia and a few tv’s tuned to ESPN. The “FMBBQ Sampler” was an easy way to try just about all of their meats (minus the ribs and chicken), and was a steal at $10.99 even if the portions ended up small. To make sure my entire meal wasn’t meat-based, I added a small side of hush puppies.

What followed was a slightly underwhelming plate. The brisket was dry and stiff with a texture almost that of overcooked bacon. My guess was that it was smoked on a previous day and reheated for lunch on this day.

The “chipotle cheese stuffed beef sausage” was nothing more than a split sausage with shredded cheese melted on it – not really as advertised and quite disappointing.

The turkey was dry and mostly bland. The smoked wings were slightly better than the other meats.

As for the pork, well, I initially didn’t get any and had to ask for it. No big deal, but I’m glad that I did since it ended up being the best of any of the meats (while still not being great). It was moist and had large chunks of bark in it but was still on the bland side without the aid of a table sauce. Still, the overall rating below might have been a bit lower had I not followed up on it.

The hush puppies may have been frozen but at least they came with a side of honey butter. I will say, at least the servers were quite nice.

You know that saying how barbecue writers and editors “try bad barbecue so you don’t have to” (I think I first saw Daniel Vaughn of TMBBQ write this)? Well this day’s lunch was definitely a case of that. Bad barbecue might be a bit strong but Fort Mill BBQ Company was definitely mediocre at best.

Monk

Ratings:
Atmosphere – 2.5 hogs
Pork – 2.5 hogs
Brisket – 1 hog
Sausage – 2 hogs
Wings – 2.5 hogs
Turkey – 2 hogs
Sides – 2.5 hogs
Overall – 2 hogs
Fort Mill BBQ Company Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

IMG_4379 IMG_4378 IMG_4372

Louie Mueller Barbecue – Taylor, TX

IMG_4024

Name: Louie Mueller Barbecue
Date: 7/18/15
Location: 206 W. 2nd St., Taylor, TX
Order: 1 & 1/2 Lb Moist Brisket, 2 Jalapeno Sausages, ¼ Lb Turkey, Peach Cobbler, 3 Teas (link to menu)
Bill: $55

Rudy: I had already visited and reviewed two of the top 4 barbecue places in the state according to Texas Monthly BBQ so I figured it was time to make the short drive to Taylor and review Louie Mueller Barbecue, who was also ranked in the top 4. This is the second time I have eaten at Louie Mueller’s, but the first time reviewing what is considered one of the grandfathers of central Texas barbecue. To give you an idea of the history and excellence that is on hand at LM’s: they won the James Beard Foundation Award for excellence, becoming the first Texas barbecue restaurant to win that award. They also are the family where many of the best Texas barbecue restaurants find their roots. The expectations for LM’s was off the charts.

Monk: Wow, they certainly fit the bill of a legendary Texas joint. The family tree aspect almost sounds similar to Warner Stamey and his legacy in Lexington-style barbecue in NC.

Rudy: LM has been in their current location since 1959 and have a great, great atmosphere. They have a large open seating area near where you line up to order, but they also have a great seating area attached that is basically a large screened porch. It has such a classic feel, which makes sense considering how long it has been in that building. Even though it is a top notch barbecue spot only 30 minutes from Austin, both times I have gone to LM’s the line is never more than 10-15 minutes. That immediately skyrockets it’s rating on my board because I have no desire to wait for hours upon hours for barbecue that is on the same level as one that takes 15 minutes to get (even on top of the hour round-trip drive).

I only have 2 knocks on LM. One is the set up they have for drinks (you get them while you are standing in line) makes it hard to get refills because you have to swim through the line. The second is the fact that it is BYOB, but there is no way of knowing that.  It isn’t listed on their website and there is no sign telling you this. However, I did count at least 19 beer signs around the restaurant, so you can understand my surprise and disappointment when I was told that they didn’t serve beer there and I had to bring my own.

Monk: Being BYOB certainly didn’t help you on this trip but now that you know it, that’s great. Will be nice the next time you stop in for sure.

Rudy: On to the food. The brisket. Oh. My. God. It was amazing. AMAZING. Perfect amount of seasoning, not too overpowered with salt or pepper. Fat was perfectly rendered, so it just melted in your mouth. Tender, but didn’t fall apart. I really can’t heap enough praise on the brisket. They provide a side of sauce that can be used as a compliment, but it is not needed in any way. Plus, they cut you a sample of the brisket when you order, so you immediately up the amount that you are planning on ordering. They haven’t been in business this long without knowing a few tricks.

The sausage left a little to be desired. The first time I came to LM’s it was really juicy, but this time it was a little dry. I have given it a lower rating, based on this visit, but I’m willing to give it another try on my next visit to break the tie.

Monk: Since *spoiler alert* you didn’t give them 5 hogs, I wonder if a better sausage next time would put them over the top for you?

Rudy: Absolutely, because everything else was over the top good – even the turkey. That’s right, this was the first time I ordered turkey at a barbecue restaurant. I just have a hard time ordering it and like to stick to brisket, sausage, and ribs. But with Rudy Jr. along for the ride, I figured I would feed it to him. It was a huge hit. He ate the entire thing and was asking for more. I tried a piece and was surprised at how good it was. The meat had great flavor, but most importantly was extremely moist and not dried out as I have seen at other places.

Lastly, we finished it off with peach cobbler and ice cream. It was a bit heavy on the breading and low on the fruit, at least the serving we got, but it was still so good. It was obvious that it was homemade and delicious.

Speedy: I’m a little late to this review party, but I just wanted to chime in that this sounds incredible. Plan on taking a trip next time I’m in town, Rudy.

Rudy: Overall, Louie Mueller lived up the the high expectations and showed why it is always ranked as highly as it is. There is no doubt that I will be making the short drive back up there in the future, and I’ll make sure I bring my own beer next time.

Ratings:
Atmosphere/Ambiance –  4.5 Hogs
Brisket – 5 Hogs
Sausage – 3.5 Hogs
Turkey – 5 Hogs
Cobbler – 4.5 Hogs
Overall – 4.5 Hogs
Click to add a blog post for Louie Mueller Barbecue on Zomato

IMG_4028 IMG_4030 IMG_4032 IMG_4026 IMG_4027 IMG_4031 IMG_4033 IMG_4034 IMG_4035 IMG_4036

Midwood Smokehouse – Charlotte, NC

image

Name: Midwood Smokehouse
Date: 6/1/12
Location: 1401 Central Avenue, Charlotte, NC
Order: Smoked Wings, East vs West barbecue special, combo platter with brisket, sausage, st. louis style ribs, and smoked turkey, hush puppies, bbq slaw, baked beans, collards 
Bill: Smoked wings – $8; East vs West barbecue special (included two sides + hush puppies) – $12; Combo platter (included two sides + hush puppies) – $28

Speedy: When I first heard that Midwood Smokehouse was opening back in 2011, I was pretty skeptical. After all, Charlotte isn’t exactly known for great barbecue. But it opened in one of my favorite areas of town, Plaza Midwood, so I definitely had to give it a try. All my doubts were erased from the first meal there, and it’s been my favorite Charlotte barbecue spot ever since.

Monk: May was “Bar-B-Que Month” at Midwood Smokehouse, and while I don’t particularly care for that spelling of barbecue, they had some great specials – Texas BBQ in week 1, Memphis ribs in week 2, and Kansas City burnt ends in week 3. Talk about great timing, week 4 happened to be East vs. West NC barbecue special – obviously right up the Barbecue Bros alley. And while Speedy and I had been to Midwood Smokehouse several times and considered it in our top 2 in Charlotte, this was the perfect time to go and write a review for the blog.

Rudy:  This menu was celebrating their “Bar-B-Que Month”, but what types of barbecue do they normally serve?  Or as some would say, “what are they known for?”

Monk: In terms of barbecue, they have a little bit of everything – eastern NC pork, texas style beef brisket, smoked turkey, smoked sausage, and bbq chicken. As for what they are known for…

Speedy:  An interesting question that I’m not sure I know the answer to. Since it’s relatively new, I haven’t heard too many people talk about it that much, other than saying it’s good. Probably the pulled pork seems to be the most popular item, and my personal favorite. Anyhow, we arrived just before eight on a Friday night. Our party consisted of myself, Monk, Mrs. Monk, and my cousin Daniel, a foodie in his own right. Originally, we were told it would be a thirty minute wait, but someone must’ve told them that we were the Barbecue Bros and we weren’t messing around, we were seated after only 5.

Monk: LIKE BOSSES. Weekend nights tend to be busy at Midwood, and that night the restaurant was definitely buzzing  – all of the tables were filled, there was no available seating at the bar, and several folks were trying to find a sliver of room at the bar to order a drink while they waited for tables. Speaking of the bar, Midwood Smokehouse usually has a nice selection of craft beers available on draft and bottle as well as decent specials to go with it. And yes, you can go cheap if that’s the way you prefer your beer. As for seating, there is both indoor and covered outdoor seating, and even a second outdoor level (which I have not yet been to). We were seated outside in the covered area, just minutes after rainstorm had swept through and cooled off the night just a bit. Things were off to a good start.

Speedy: Before long we were ready to order. We had decided that we would be able to have the biggest variety of meats if we ordered the East vs. West special and the combo platter which feeds 2-3 people, for Daniel, Monk, and myself to split. Mrs. Monk decided, however, to order a salad. ARE YOU KIDDING ME, MONK? YOU NEED TO GET CONTROL OF YOUR WOMAN. WHO ORDERS A SALAD AT A BARBECUE JOINT?

Rudy:  By “order a salad” you mean that she ordered extra slaw?  Like her two side items were slaw next to the barbecue?

Monk: I wish that were the case, Rudy. I think Mrs. Monk would defend her choice of salad by saying “but it had pulled pork on top!” but believe me when I say that we are working through these issues. But enough about our marriage, on to the barbecue.

Speedy: The first course was an order of smoked wings with a spicy barbecue sauce. As wings are my second favorite food (behind barbecue, of course) and I love spicy stuff, you could say that this was right in my wheelhouse. Though good, the wings were not the highlight of the meal. I feel that they could have used some more dry rub before smoking to help enhance the flavor and the sauce wasn’t spicy enough. Mrs. Monk was able to eat one without tearing up, which means the heat needed to man up a little. I’d recommend these wings, but it’s definitely not the reason to go. The pork, on the other hand…

Monk: If you aren’t aware, eastern NC barbecue is whole-hog, chopped barbecue with a vinegar based sauce (sometimes spicy) while western is pork shoulders, pulled barbecue with a tomato-based sauce that gives it a reddish hue.

Speedy: For some reason, the waiter felt the need to explain this to us like it was freakin’ amateur hour. Child, please.

Monk: I mean, seriously. We are the Barbecue Bros! For this special, Midwood added Highland Gaelic Ale from Asheville, NC brewery Highland to the western sauce. The western was fantastic and blew the eastern out of the water head to head. The eastern was chopped a little too fine for my preference, giving it a somewhat weird texture. However, don’t get me wrong – it was still pretty good.  

Rudy: So the eastern would have been good by itself but when you ate it right next to the western, it was no contest, right?

Monk: Yea, pretty much. This was the first time I had eaten the two head to head and the difference was eye-opening.

Speedy: When ordering the brisket, we were asked if we wanted “fatty, lean, or a little of both.” Well, the last couple times I’ve had brisket, it’s been too fatty, so I ordered lean. This was probably a mistake. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m no brisket expert – that’s why we have Rudy on the payroll – but overall, I was a little disappointed. The brisket showed up chopped, not sliced, and was not really that flavorful. Adding some of the provided sauce helped, but it was still average brisket at best. Similarly, the turkey had a nice texture, but was dry and was also reliant on the sauce (or provided cranberry relish) for flavor. The ribs were better. Tender and flavorful with plenty of sauce – I was definitely pleased with them.

Monk: My favorite of the other plate was the ribs followed by the sausage. I gotta say, the more and more I have it, the more I love smoked sausage (keep your jokes to yourself). It will never displace pulled pork or maybe even ribs, but its a solid number 3 for me, jockeying it out with brisket. I also dug that Speedy had the wherewithal to order an additional half-basket of hush puppies, because I don’t feel right eating barbecue without them and they are decent here, if not a bit small.

Rudy:  I completely agree. I had not had smoked sausage until moving to Texas, and I love it.  Some places will stuff them with jalapenos and cheese.  My favorite types are the ones that kind of fall apart when you cut into them.  That tells me they probably made the sausage themselves.

Speedy: I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the slaw here is excellent. Chopped fine with just the right amount of vinegar. No mayonnaise to be seen in this slaw. It’s tangy flavor rises from within. All in all, I love this place. The atmosphere is good, the smoker on the side of the building is awesome, and the guys running the show actually know their ‘cue. I’ve never left Midwood Smokehouse without a full stomach and a smile on my face.

Monk: Agreed, Midwood Smokehouse is definitely my favorite barbecue spot in Charlotte. Their ‘cue isn’t amateur hour, and I especially dig the beer selection. Everyone I’ve taken to has enjoyed it, and it has become a dependable spot to take out of town guests. Also, that’s what she said!

Speedy: …

Ratings:
Atmosphere/Ambiance – 4 hogs
Pork – 4 hogs
Brisket – 2 hogs
Sausage – 3.5 hogs
Ribs – 3.5 hogs
Wings – 3 hogs
Turkey – 2 hogs
Sides – 3 hogs
Overall – 3.5 hogs  

image

image

image

image

image

Midwood Smokehouse on Urbanspoon

Midwood Smokehouse on Foodio54