Fox Bros Bar-B-Q – Atlanta, GA

IMG_2735
Name
: Fox Bros Bar-B-Q
Date: 8/27/16
Address: 1238 DeKalb Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30307
Order: The Everything plate (pork, brisket, ribs, wings) with tater tots and collard greens, brisket egg rolls, jalapeno cheddar link, Frito pie, jalapeno corn bread, 5 beers (link to menu)
Price: ~$82

Speedy: It wasn’t long after my move to Atlanta that Monk and friend-of-the-blog-but-definitely-not-a-barbecue-bro Susong started planning a trip down to visit. I still don’t know too much about the city, but I knew for sure one thing would be on the agenda – barbecue. Fox Bros is probably the most famous place in town – a Texas-style joint with a little bit of everything on the menu. We went early on a Saturday to beat the crowd.

Monk: Acknowledging that Fox Bros definitely is not a “Georgia style” barbecue joint, next time through we’ll plan to visit a more regionally appropriate joint. For instance, Old Brick Pit Barbeque is actually not far from Speedy’s hood.

Speedy: The first thing to come out were the brisket egg rolls and boy were they good. It was an egg roll filled with brisket, onions, and a little bit of mustard sauce. A simple concept executed to perfection. It made me wonder – why don’t more things come in egg rolls? Another conversation for another time I guess.

Monk: You may recall that Speedy also really loved the southern egg rolls from The Pit in Raleigh. This guy just loves a good egg roll, darnit. Can’t say he’s wrong, though.

Speedy: We also had brisket as part of our combo platter, and ordered the fatty cut. Loyal readers of this blog know I’ve sworn off of North Carolina brisket. I’m happy to report I will not have to make the same proclamation in Georgia. It wasn’t the best brisket I ever had, but it was had a solid bark, good flavor and tenderness, and was just solid.

Monk: Solid, yes. But in Charlotte I’d actually put up the brisket from The Smoke Pit or Midwood Smokehouse against Fox Bros any day.

While the coarsely pulled pork had bark mixed it, I found it to be disappointingly dry and bland. Texas joints aren’t generally known for their pork, and that was certainly the case for Fox Bros.

Speedy: The ribs, on the other hand, were meaty and cooked to perfection. I was able to get a nice, clean bite and enjoyed the flavor. I do think there could have been a little more dry rub used, but overall a good rib. I was similarly impressed with the smoked wings, that came with a spicy bbq sauce. I’d consider them a must order for wing lovers.

Monk: The jalapeno cheddar link was a special on the day we were there, but being that it had cheddar Speedy was unable to partake. I liked it quite a bit, though I will say my sausage knowledge is still lacking. Having followed Fox Bros on Instagram for the past few years, one of my most anticipated items to try was the Frito Pie. Brisket chili, cheese, jalapenos, and sour cream mixed into a bag of Fritos. It was one of the best things I ate at that meal and if I can’t find it closer to home in NC, then I’m almost certainly going to have make my own version of it at home.

Speedy: The collards were quite good, and I’ll order them again, but they didn’t really make or break the meal. The tater tots were ordered were better than average, as they were seasoned nicely. Of course the big win was at the end of the meal when friend-of-the-blog-but-definitely-not-a-barbecue-bro Susong lost credit card roulette and picked up the tab. Thanks, buddy!

Monk: Oh right! Thanks for reminding me of my favorite part as well. I definitely won’t go as far as to say that I was disappointed with our meal at Fox Bros Bar-B-Q – the food was generally above average and the beer was cold. Whether the buildup in my head was fair is a valid question, but in any case I was hoping for just a little more.

Ratings:
Atmosphere – 3.5 hogs
Pork – 2 hogs
Brisket – 3.5 hogs
Ribs – 4 hogs
Sausage – 3.5 hogs
Wings – 3.5 hogs
Sides – 4 hogs
Overall – 3.5 hogs
Fox Brothers Bar-B-Q Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Fox Brothers Bar-B-Q

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

Treehouse Whiskey and Fork – Charlotte, NC

Name: Treehouse Whiskey and Fork
Date: 12/22/15
Address: 4423 Sharon Rd, Charlotte, NC 28211
Order: Large plate (pork, brisket, ribs, sausage) with coleslaw, tater tots, and jalapeno cheddar biscuit; smoked backyard wings, skillet cornbread, and buffalo shrimp; 5 beers (link)
Price: $72 (for 3)

Monk: Happy Birthday, Speedy!

Speedy: Thanks, bro.

Monk: So on the night of his actual birthday, Speedy chose Treehouse Whiskey & Fork, a Charlotte restaurant in SouthPark of which I was unaware of just how much a barbecue joint it actually was – it describes itself on its website as “a new take on BBQ and New American Style cooking”.

Speedy: I had been a couple times before, but hadn’t really had the barbecue, so thought this was a good time to bring Monk (and friend of the blog Susong) in for reinforcements. Little did I know, we’d have an additional soldier on our squad, but more on that later. Anyway, the atmosphere at Treehouse is really great – even down to the tree literally in the middle of the restaurant. A large bar, good beer and whiskey selection, and large outdoor patio make this a great place for grabbing drinks with friends. But is it a good place for ‘cue?

Monk: Somehow, I missed the tree in the middle of the restaurant. As for the food, the pork was not bad, with smokey pieces of bark mixed in with mostly moist pork. Not bad, but maybe a little on the bland side. The brisket, on the other hand, didn’t have the fat properly rendered and was poorly smoked. Just bad.

Speedy: The ribs were definitely baby backs, and a little on the small side. They were slathered in sauce and a little overcooked, making it hard to get a good bite. They did have a decent flavor, but not the best ribs in my opinion. The sausage had good flavor, but not enough snap to the casing. The flavor made up for that, though, and I’d order the sausage again. The wings were pretty good. In Charlotte, it’s pretty rare to find smoked wings instead of fried, so I really appreciate them when I can get them. These weren’t the best smoked wings, but worth re-ordering. While not barbecue, the buffalo shrimp were awesome.

Monk: The large plate came with a jalapeno cheddar biscuit but we ordered some skillet cornbread in order to get that fix. The tots and the slaw that came with the meal were standard, and of course Speedy stayed away from the mayo slaw.

Speedy: OK – enough ‘cue talk. Now we need to tell you about the Mont-dawg. The Mont-dawg was a super drunk golfer who was there with some friends after a round of golf earlier that day. He took a liking to our group, buying us a round of Fireball shots. However, he REALLY took a liking to a group of 16-year old girls sitting near us. While he didn’t buy them shots, he did ask them if they’d be willing to babysit his three kids. Mont-dawg also successfully guessed Monk’s real name, got left by his friends, ran off a waitress, refused us buying him a shot (because “y’all – I make a ton of money.”) I wish I could remember all the rest of the Mont-dawg quotes, but alas, there was too much. But big shout out to the Mont-dawg, wherever you are. This one’s for you…

Ratings:
Atmosphere – 4 hogs (specifically because of Mont-dawg; your mileage may vary)
Pork – 3 hogs
Brisket – 1.5 hogs
Ribs – 2 hogs
Sausage – 3 hogs
Wings – 3 hogs
Sides – 3.5 hogs
Overall – 2.5 hogs
Treehouse Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

IMG_4324 IMG_4326

Arrogant Swine – Brooklyn, NY

IMG_5441
Name
: Arrogant Swine
Date: 10/6/15
Address: 173 Morgan Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11237
Order: 1 lb East Carolina whole hog, 1 lb Western NC outside brown shoulder, 1 lb spare ribs, Tikka Masala Sausage, Greensboro Pitmaster Chicken Wings, red vinegar slaw, collards, mac and cheese (link)
Price: ~$120

Monk: Having followed for the past year Tyson Ho’s excellent blog series on Serious Eats on the opening of his barbecue restaurant in Brooklyn, Arrogant Swine was my number one priority while we were in New York for 9 days in early October. That plus the fact that he was doing eastern NC whole hog in the middle of Brooklyn and that his joint was also advertised as a beer hall made it an easy choice.

Speedy: And what a fantastic atmosphere it had! Contrary to every other place in NY, the restaurant was spacious and comfortable, and had a large outdoor seating area. We started our meal at the bar (Monk and crew had some beers and smoked wings while I dealt with a closed subway line) before ordering. A great beer (and whiskey) selection was a big help in allowing the group to wait for me. Anyhow, once I arrived, we put in our order.

Monk: As a nod to cracklins, or crispy hog skin chopped into whole hog, Arrogant Swine serves their chopped pork with a layer of pork rinds. Which is a little bit of a curious choice if you ask me and it took me a minute to realize the pork was underneath it. Once I waded through the pork rinds, I found the vinegary chopped pork to be a decent version of NC whole hog but not quite as good as I had hoped or expected.

Speedy: The western style outside brown was also a little different than you’d find in NC. It came chopped, though I’d consider it more cubed. The pork almost looked more like burnt ends. The flavor was pretty OK, but the cubes made it seem a bit less tender than typical. Overall, I think this really missed the mark. Sorry, Tyson.

Monk: The  tikka misala sausage was made in house and was definitely one of the favorites of our group, though there isn’t much of a link to NC either in the sausage or the fact that its Indian spiced.

Speedy:The spare rib was big, meaty, and smoked well. They weren’t over cooked, so you could get a good bit, and the seasoning and sauce was a good compliment to, but did not overpower, the meat. Overall, I think this was better than the pork, which is odd for an NC ‘cue joint. If I were to return, I’d focus on the sausage and the ribs.

Monk: The Greensboro Pit Master wings are a nod to the Vietnamese pitmasters who do much of the smoking in the Piedmont joints that still smoke over wood – notably Stamey’s in Greensboro. While a nice tip of the hat, the sticky and sweet sauce on the wings isn’t really reminiscent of anything related to NC barbecue traditions. In any case, a nice idea and decently executed wing.

Speedy: I thought they were well smoked, but I didn’t love the sauce – a little sweet on my end. In terms of sides, I think I only had the slaw, which I enjoyed, even though there were raisins in there for some reason, which I can’t figure out.

Monk: Oh yeah! Even after we got an explanation from Tyson that just chopped cabbage and carrots in vinegar wouldn’t cut it in NYC, raisins still didn’t make sense to me. Another curious choice. Shout out to the waffle mac and cheese served with a side of queso, though.

Speedy: While eating, we did chat with Tyson a good bit and he was very cool. We talked about some of the differences between his joint and what we typically see in NC, and he was very aware of that. As he put it, he wanted to take the unique pieces on NC ‘cue and amplify them, which I think he did. While doing that, I think it lost some of the things I love about NC ‘cue, but it’s still better than most of the “barbecue” I’ve eaten in the city.

Monk: As an experience, Arrogant Swine was definitely worth trekking it out to Bushwick and I only wish we had been able to go a little earlier to hang on the outdoor patio and drink more of their great selection of beers. As a barbecue restaurant, Arrogant Swine was a little more of a mixed bag with some items more successful than others. In any case, I would definitely go back to Arrogant Swine again and will continue to follow its development, since  a joint that cooks whole hog over wood (particularly in NYC) is a rarity these days.

Ratings:
Atmosphere – 4 hogs
Pork (eastern) – 3 hogs
Pork (western) – 2 hogs
RIbs – 3.5 hogs
Sausage – 3.5 hogs
Wings – 2.5 hogs
Sides – 2.5 hogs
Overall – 3 hogs
Arrogant Swine Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Arrogant Swine

IMG_5452 IMG_5447 IMG_5454 IMG_5458 IMG_5443 IMG_5445

Moe’s Original Bar-B-Que – Matthews, NC (RE-REVIEW)

(null)
Name
: Moe’s Original Bar-B-Que
Location: 111 Matthews Station St, Matthews, NC 28105
Date: 6/28/15
Order: Monk: pork platter with two ribs, collards, and jalapeno cheese grits; Speedy: smoked wings, ribs platter with collards and Brunswick stew (link to menu)
Price: Monk: $17; Speedy: $20

Monk: As we’ve hit most of the Charlotte-area joints, you may start to notice that from time to time there will be some re-reviewing of joints that only one of us hit up the first time around. I went to Moe’s Original Bar-B-Que just over two years ago by myself, so I figured The Barbecue Bros should give this Alabama-style chain from Colorado another shot with Speedy in tow. Though Speedy assured me before hand that there would be no chicken and white sauce ordered by him.

It also gave us an opportunity to finally meet up with Big Wayner before he moved from the Charlotte area. Three-plus years ago as we were starting Barbecue Bros, I remember coming across Big Wayner BBQ and using it as a reference point for our blog. Wayne’s a super nice guy who is very knowledgeable about barbecue, and I wish it hadn’t taken so long for us to finally meet up with him.

Speedy: First off, let me say this. Big Wayner is the man. If I’ve met a nicer dude before, I couldn’t tell you when. If Wayner were a barbecue joint, I’d give him 5 hogs. But since he’s not, let’s talk about the real joint. I was skeptical of going to Moe’s based on previous reviews and other heresay. Honestly, it just sounded mediocre at best. However, while I was at a barbecue joint, I figured I’d order enough to understand the real deal, so I made sure to get ribs, pork, and smoked wings. Let’s start with the good: the smoked wings. These guys had great flavor, hinting at a great rub, and were cooked to the perfect level of tenderness. They weren’t too hot and overall, were very enjoyable. Moving on to the pork, however…

Monk: The pork was the saddest of the three meats we tried. It was dry and lacking in smoke and any bark or discernible flavor, even with the red sauce drizzled over it. I remember being pretty much the same way last time around and if I ever make it back I’ll go with wings or *gasp* chicken instead.

Speedy: Not so fast, Monk… the ribs were actually pretty decent. They had a nice bite, indicating they weren’t overcooked, and had a nice smoky flavor. And they were topped off with just the right amount of glaze – not over-sauced  by any means, but adding a bit of flavor. These ribs weren’t the best I’ve had by any means, but I did enjoy them.

Monk: The sides were another low point of the meal. The jalapeno cheese grits were better than average but the collards lacked taste and Speedy couldn’t bring himself to finish his Brunswick stew. The platters come with cornbread and that was merely ok.

Speedy: Overall, this was a very mediocre barbecue experience. It took Big Wayner to get me out that far into the Charlotte suburbs (editor’s note: Speedy considers everything outside of a 2 mile radius from downtown a “suburb”), and I don’t regret going, but I won’t be making any trips out that way just to visit Moe’s Original Bar-B-Que anytime soon.

Ratings:
Atmosphere/Ambiance – 2.5 hogs
Pork – 2.5 hogs
Ribs – 3.5 hogs
Wings – 3.5 hogs
Sides – 2 hogs
Overall – 2.5 hogs
Click to add a blog post for Moe's Original Bar B Que on Zomato

IMG_2393 (null) (1) IMG_2391 IMG_2396IMG_3196

Swig & Swine – Charleston, SC

IMG_2356

Name: Swig & Swine
Date: 4/19/14
Address: 1217 Savannah Hwy, Charleston, SC 29407
Order: 3 meat combo (pulled pork, homemade sausage, smoked pork belly), vinegar slaw, hash & rice, smoked wings appetizer (link to menu)
Price: $20 for the combo, $12 for a dozen wings

Speedy: On the second day of my college friend bro weekend, I had to lay the smack down. “Dudes,” I said, “I’m a Barbecue Bro. My readers expect – nay! – my readers deserve a second review from my time in Charleston. So what if we had ‘cue yesterday? We’re running it back!” And so we found ourselves at Swig & Swine, which I had driven by a couple of times on Savannah Highway.

Monk: I applaud your dedication to the cause, comrade Speedski!

Speedy: From an atmosphere perspective, this restaurant has everything you want from a new school ‘cue joint – a nice rustic feel, a great bar, and large beer selection. We took a seat in the bar section and our waitress quickly approached. We immediately ordered some smoked wings for appies. I added on to that by ordering the three meat combo (because I was having a hard time making decisions).

Monk:This wouldn’t have anything to do with your previous night’s activities impairing your thinking ability would it?

Speedy: I would prefer to not answer that question, Monk. Anywho, due to the events at Home Team BBQ, I have extended my brisket ban to South Carolina (with one notable exception), so I ordered the pulled pork, homemade sausage, and tacked on the pork belly, which I was excited to see. Traditional NC side vinegar slaw and traditional SC side hash and rice rounded out my order.

Monk: Ohhh, hash and rice. Really curious how you found this? I thought it was a bit weird myself.

Speedy: Patience, young grasshopper…

The wings came out first and they were divine. Smoked perfectly and tossed in a red ‘cue sauce, these wings were meaty, tender, and full of smoke flavor. They were nearly perfect. This got me super excited for the rest of the meal.

Monk: So far, so good. Now let’s just see if the rest of the meal holds up…

Speedy: Sadly, I was let down.

Monk: Well, never mind…

Speedy: The pork was decent, but lacked smoke and was a little dry. The table was stacked with several sauces (red, vinegar, mustard, white), so I added some vinegar sauce and it did help. Overall, the pork is passable, but not great. Which is more than I can say for the pork belly. Pork belly should be crisp on the outside and melt in the mouth on the inside, which this was not. Instead, it was tough and lacking of flavor. I’m certainly no expert in smoking pork belly, but I expected more.

The sausage was actually good – the best meat of my entree. It was definitely homemade and had a nice snap and really good flavor. I would’ve preferred it to be a little spicier, but that’s just me. Overall, I’d get this again.

Monk: Could you tell what smoking method Swig & Swine used? Sounds like a gasser to me.

Speedy: I’m not sure – that would be my guess as well, but I didn’t go check it out. The slaw was forgettable and the hash was decent, and something I’d order again, though I’m not familiar enough to know how it stacks up.

Overall, I was really hoping for a special meal, especially after tasting the wings. Unfortunately, I ended up with an average experience.

Monk: So far, between this place and the two Home Team BBQ’s you’ve been to it doesn’t seem like there is much to Charleston barbecue. I expect this to change when John Lewis opens his place later this year.

Ratings:
Atmosphere – 4.5 hogs
Smoked Wings – 4.5 hogs
Pork – 2.5 hogs
Pork Belly – 1.5 hogs
Sausage – 4 hogs
Sides – 2.5 hogs
Overall – 3 hogs
Swig & Swine on Urbanspoon

IMG_2361 IMG_2360 IMG_2359 IMG_2358 IMG_2357 IMG_2355

Peg Leg Porker – Nashville, TN

IMG_2268

Name: Peg Leg Porker
Date: 3/20/15
Address: 903 Gleaves St., Nashville, TN
Order: Peg Leg Hot wings, ½ rack ribs (dry), Brunswick stew, fries (link to menu)
Price: ~$20

Speedy: I recently took a trip to Nashville to see the greatest band of all-time, The Beach Boys, live at one of the greatest music venues ever, the Ryman. My bud Drew is well aware of my love of ‘cue, so wanted to take me to a new place that has become his favorite joint in town – Peg Leg Porker.

Monk: Beach Boys and barbecue? Talk about “good vibrations” am I right?

Speedy: *Face palm* We arrived on Friday night to a sizable crowd. Peg leg has a decent sized dining room and a large bar. There’s a counter for ordering, and you just sit wherever you can find a seat, which was more difficult than anticipated as there was a pretty big line ahead of us. I really liked the atmosphere – it’s not a typical old-timey joint by any means, but it doesn’t have any pretentiousness about it. I really dug it.

Monk: If there’s anything that Speedy won’t stand for, its pretentiousness. Looking at you, Panera.

Speedy: I had trouble deciding what to order, but ultimately went with the dry ribs (I always prefer dry, given the option) and the smoked wings, as I knew I would be able to snake some pulled pork from someone else in our party.

After getting the meal, I first tried a bit of pork. I was pretty pleased. It’s no secret that I prefer chopped to pulled, and I would like to have seen a little bit more bark in there, but the smoke flavor was evident. I think it could’ve used a little tang from a vinegar based dip, but that may just be my North Carolina roots talking.

Monk: So did the pork have a particular style in the cut of meat and/or sauce? Tennessee is definitely a pork state but I’m curious if it was whole hog or shoulders and if it was sauced any.

Speedy: You know, Monk, unfortunately, I didn’t get to interview the pitmaster, but it did seem like pulled shoulder meat to me. It came unsauced, but there was a spicy and regular red sauce available. I tried the spicy and it was decent.

The ribs were really good. They had the right amount of dry rub – accentuating but not eliminating the flavor of the meat. They were cooked perfectly – tender without falling of the bone. The ribs were certainly the star of the show.

Monk: So would you call this a good version of the Memphis-style rib?

Speedy: Yes, absolutely. I think it can be difficult to have dry ribs not taste like dry meat, but here, the meat was tender and juicy, even though it wasn’t saucy.

The wings were also really good. They were served as full wings, smoked and tossed in hot buffalo sauce. I was really happy with that, as I get annoyed when barbecue joints serve fried wings.

Peg Leg gets a small bonus in terms of sides for offering Brunswick stew, which was very good. But those points are subsequently lost due to the lack of hushpuppies. And of course, they had white slaw instead of red, which I didn’t touch.

Overall, I enjoyed my meal at Peg Leg Porker. It’s the best ‘cue I’ve had in Nashville, which, unfortunately doesn’t say much, despite Travel & Leisure’s ludicrous article. However, I expect that this is not my last trip to Peg Leg Porker.

Ratings:
Atmosphere/Ambiance – 4 hogs
Pork – 3 hogs
Ribs – 4 hogs
Wings – 3.5 hog
Sides – 3 hogs
Overall – 3.5 Hogs
Peg Leg Porker on Urbanspoon

IMG_2267 IMG_2266 IMG_2264 IMG_2262 IMG_2261 IMG_2260 IMG_2274

521 BBQ and Grill – Indian Land, SC

IMG_0505
Name: 521 BBQ and Grill
Date: 10/25/14
Address: 7580 Charlotte Hwy, Indian Land, SC 29707
Order: Monk: Combo plate with pork and sausage, fries, hush puppies, red slaw, and beans; Speedy: Rib tray with fries and hush puppies (link to menu)
Price: Monk: $13.50; Speedy: $15-ish

Monk: At this point in our Charlotte barbecue journey, we are starting to run out of places in Charlotte proper to eat and rank. Even still, I didn’t think we’d have to go to a place that is at least 50 minutes away from my house. To be clear, Indian Land is just south of Fort Mill, which isn’t all that far from Charlotte. And we were in the area to go to a pumpkin patch with the Monkette. But realizing it was going to take upwards of an hour with traffic to get home when I meant to go to the other, closer location (to use a Livingsocial coupon  before it expired) was a little disheartening. But I’m getting ahead of myself. So, 521 BBQ and Grill.

Speedy: Monk mentioned this trip to me earlier in the week. But I don’t have any mini-Speedies running around, so the pumpkin patch was out of the question. Fortunately, 521 BBQ and Grill is just down the road from the best whiskey store in the area! And I take any excuse I can to check out what new scotches they’ve stocked. So I was in!

Monk: 521 claims to rub and cook the pork butts nightly for 14 hours but unfortunately the pork lacked a significant amount of smoke (possibly signifying that it was cooked by a gasser? Update: or possibly they use a FEC 150 wood pellet smoker like the Tega Cay location?), though it was tender and moist. Adding the table sauce added some zip to the barbecue and would be my recommended way of eating.

Speedy: The ribs were big, meaty baby-back ribs, and they had decent flavor. I enjoyed the sauce that was served on the ribs, and the tenderness was right, but I do like a bit more smoke flavor and more presence of a rub on the meat. They were finished on the grill, which is not my preference, as I think the grill char takes away from the meat flavor. I also prefer ribs to be cooked without the membrane, which was not the case here. Overall, the ribs were fine, but I don’t think I’ll be making special trips down to Indian Land just for the ribs.

Monk: The sausage is also finished on the grill and is pretty good, but if I had to guess it is commercially bought instead of being made in house or from a local vendor. It was fine, but I wouldn’t consider it an essential order based on this visit.

Speedy: I also ordered some wings, which were fried, so not really barbecue. I ordered the hot wings, but got a mustardy sauce, which actually worked pretty well. If you’re a wing fan, they’re worth trying, but again, not worth a special trip.

Monk: Of the side items, the hush puppies were best and appeared to be scratch made. I liked them and wish we had a table basket of them instead of just a couple that came with my plate. 521 BBQ offers a choice of red or white slaw, but the red slaw was a little too ketchup-y and needed more vinegar.

Speedy: Overall, 521 BBQ and Grill is a decent meal. I don’t think it’s worth going out of your way to check out, and it ended up being a pretty expensive trip for ole Speedy (not due to the barbecue, but rather the two bottles of scotch I ended up with on my way there). So next time, Monk, see if you can find a pumpkin patch a little closer to home.

(For another review of 521 BBQ and Grill, check out Big Wayner BBQ)

Ratings:
Atmosphere/Ambiance – 2.5 hogs
Pork – 3 hogs
Ribs – 3 hogs
Sausage – 3.5 hogs
Sides – 3 hogs
Overall – 3 Hogs
521 BBQ on Urbanspoon

IMG_0499 IMG_0501 IMG_0503 IMG_0495 IMG_0497 IMG_0507 IMG_0509

Photo Gallery: Checking out Boone’s Bar-B-Que Kitchen with Barbecue Rankings

Monk: A few weeks back, Speedy and I had the pleasure of welcoming Johnny Fugitt (aka Barbecue Rankings) to Charlotte for a behind the scenes look at the current #1 on our Charlotte Big Board, Boone’s Bar-B-Que Kitchen.

We initially reached out to Boone’s via Twitter to see if they would be out on Friday, but instead they graciously invited us to their kitchen (where they do their prep and also where they will soon have a pick-up for to-go ordering) for a private tasting. Both Boone and his business partner Tom were extremely welcoming, kicking off the visit with a bloody mary before taking us to a look at the smoker (a Southern Pride that they feed with hickory and occasionally cherry wood) and ultimately out to the food truck for a tasting. Boone treated us (graciously enough, for the price of on the house) to pork, brisket, ribs, wings, and brunswick stew. You can read my thoughts on the pork and brisket (as well as sausage, which we didn’t have this time) from when I checked out the food truck back in May.

Speedy: It’s been documented that I was a bit skeptical of Monk’s original review – mainly because I had a hard time thinking that Charlotte’s best barbecue came from a food truck. However, seeing Boone’s kitchen, smoker, and truck setup showed me how this could be possible. By the time we got to the food, I was incredibly excited. Boone was nice enough to provide us with a sample of pulled pork, ribs, brisket, wings, and brunswick stew.

The pork is served without sauce. It has a really solid flavor, great bark, and is perfectly tender. I didn’t find it dry per se, but I will admit that I added some eastern style sauce, which added to my enjoyment of the meat.

Monk: One thing I hadn’t expected was that Boone uses a Southern Pride smoker for his meat. While we tend to be purists when it comes to barbecue, if it’s good it’s good. And I don’t know exactly how he does it, but there is some damn fine bark on the barbecue that Boone puts out.

Speedy: The brisket is different than I’ve had most places. It’s sliced fairly thick, finished on the grill and served sauced. We were served meat from the point, so it was very moist and tender. I would be interested in tasting it against the flat, but I overall, I thought it was quite good – certainly worth an order.

Boone serves St. Louis cut spare ribs, which are big and meaty. These ribs are not as tender as baby backs, but I was able to get a good bite and clean the bone fairly easily. I really enjoyed the flavor of the ribs. Smoke taste was apparent and the ribs weren’t too sweet, which I’ve been seeing (err tasting) a lot lately.

Monk: Brunswick stew is the dish that started it all (literally) for Boone’s Bar-B-Que Kitchen and could very well put them on the map. So the story goes (as it was relayed to us by Tom and Boone himself), it was 2 gallons of brunswick stew requested by Tom’s dad that led to requests for more and ultimately led them to start the food truck and kitchen last fall. And damn, if it isn’t some of the best brunswick stew I’ve had in quite some time.

Speedy: The wings are very, very good. They are smoked to the perfect temperature and served in two flavors – chipotle apricot and dry rub. I actually preferred the dry rub wings – though I wouldn’t turn down either under any circumstances.

Monk: Smoked wings can be hit or miss at a barbecue spot, where they have them on the menu as an afterthought, but man these were some seriously good wings.

Speedy: Overall, there wasn’t anything not to like about the food from Boone’s Bar-B-Que Kitchen. The man is well known around Charlotte for helping start up a couple of local joints, and I do feel the need to mention that the food from Boone’s food truck has a lot of similarities to Queen City Q (which had a less than amicable split with Boone a couple years back). That being said, I do think the food truck is better. I haven’t seen anything similar to his brunswick stew anywhere in Charlotte, and it’s clear that Boone puts a lot of himself into his food, which I really do feel that you can taste.

Overall, this was one of the cooler barbecue experiences I’ve had. Boone and Tom couldn’t have been nicer, which was really just icing on the proverbial cake. First and foremost, these guys turn out a great product, so I, for one, will be keeping a lookout for the food truck more frequently.

Monk: Agreed about the passion that Boone and Tom have for their barbecue. You really could hear just how much these guys cared about what they do now, which maybe wasn’t the case in previous lives.

As for Johnny, Speedy had a bolt to get his hair did but I was able to stick around for a few minutes to chat with him before he headed out to Greenville. Really nice guy, and we spent the time talking about our barbecue experience (his a little more extensive than mine, clearly) and traded tips on joints in various cities. I can’t wait to check out his book once it’s published (possibly as early as next May depending on which publishing option he goes with) to read his thoughts, and I have a slight hunch you may see Charlotte represented a time or two in the book.

Thanks for hollering at us, Johnny! Safe travels in your final weeks on the road!

Johnny Fugitt is finishing up his year-long roadtrip on October 21 and you can see his photos and notes from the road in the meantime on his blog, Barbecue Rankings.

Boney’s Smokehouse – Denver, CO

image

Name: Boney’s Smokehouse
Date: 8/9/13
Address: 1543 Champa St., Denver, CO 80202
Order: Monk: 2 Meat Platter (pulled pork, brisket) with collards and hush puppies; Speedy: 3 Meat Platter (pulled pork, hot links, brisket) with fried okra and hush puppies, 2 rib bones, 10 smoked wings (link to menu)
Price: $44 (yea, it was a lot of food)

Monk: Once in Denver on our aforementioned annual guys trip (Rudy, you were missed), Speedy and I insisted that the group try one barbecue restaurant despite Denver’s reputation for not having good barbecue.(*) After a quick Yelp search, we decided on Boney’s Smokehouse in the Central Business District in downtown Denver.

(*) Quick side story: the night before we ate at Billy’s Gourmet Hot Dogs – which was awesome – and asked a manager there where to find good barbecue and he noted with a straight face “Go to Texas.” That recommendation doesn’t necessarily apply to us, but point taken.

Speedy: Boney’s is located in a basement of a larger building smack in the middle of downtown Denver. However, it’s a big space, so it didn’t feel too claustrophobic, save for the low ceilings. It was a little dark, but all in all, a pleasant atmosphere. We waited in a short line to order at a cashier (where one can preview other plates being prepared) and placed our orders. We had to go to the bar separately to order beers, but there was a decent selection of local beers on draft, so this was no problem. We were given a number and picked our table where we waited for the food.

Monk: Having the small stomach that I do and knowing that we would be drinking beer the rest of the day, I went with the 2 meat platter. Curiously, both mine and Speedy’s platters came pre-sauced where everyone else’s in our party did not. The pork was moist and smoky and tender and was surprisingly good. Unfortunately, the brisket was quite dry and really just not good, more resembling roast beef.

Speedy: The ribs were served with a dry rub and no sauce. While I often like this style, I thought they really lacked flavor and needed to be sauced. And while I don’t like my ribs to literally fall off the bone, these could have been a little more tender. I wasn’t upset I got them at $2.50 a bone (and with Monk paying!), but I’m glad I didn’t get a whole order. The wings were sub-par and were the worst part of the meal (along with the brisket). They were definitely smoked, but the skin outside was too crispy – to the point that it was tough. My guess is that it was smoked at a higher heat than I’d like. Not really worth ordering. I did, however, really enjoy the sausage. While everyone who tried it in our group also enjoyed, some were saying, “well it’s tough to mess up sausage.” I couldn’t disagree more. To me, sausage can be made in so many different ways that it can be very good or very bad. This sausage had a good flavor and was smoked well, though it didn’t have the trademark juiciness that I look for in a great sausage – possibly due to being pre-cut. It probably was my favorite part of the meal.

Monk: The hush puppies and cornbread, presumably of the same cornmeal mixture, were both surprisingly good, as were the collards which did not taste as if they were taken out of a can.

Speedy: When I ordered the fried okra, the cashier told me I made a “great choice.” My guess is that people around those parts don’t eat a lot of fried okra. However, I am a seasoned expert in all things okra. As such, while I definitely enjoyed it, the okra didn’t stand out from any I’d had before. It was good, and I’d recommend that others order it, it did not exceed expectations.

Monk: After finishing our meal and talking through our thoughts on the barbecue with our buddies, we took an informal poll and none of us were that upset that we went to this barbecue establishment. The food was fine and not particularly offensive, but it just wasn’t great – not that our expectations were too high to begin with. As it turns out, Boney’s Smokehouse exactly lived up to the reputation of Denver barbecue.

Ratings:
Atmosphere/Ambiance – 3.5 Hogs
Pork – 3.5 Hogs
Brisket – 2 hogs
Ribs – 2.5 hogs
Sausage – 3.5 hogs
Wings – 2 hogs
Sides – 2.5 Hogs
Overall – 3 Hogs

image

image

image

Boney's Barbecue on Urbanspoon