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. 

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

Linkdown: 11/21/18

Rodney Scott and Dr. Howard Conyers are on Southern Living’s Southerners of the Year 2018

Midwood Barbecue and Seoul Food Meat Co make Charlotte Agenda’s list of Top 50 restaurants in Charlotte:

Missed this a few weeks back, but here is Matthew Odam’s list of best barbecue in Austin

Several barbecue restaurants including Midwood Smokehouse, Sauceman’s, Seoul Food Meat Co, and Peace-N-Hominy Q Shack are represented on this list of best wings in Charlotte 

Brunswick stew was the culprit for what made nearly 300 people sick from the Poplar Tent Presbyterian Church BBQ in Concord

Awesome news:

More on Dave Grohl’s barbecue obsession, this time from Maxim

The Smoke Sheet is a new barbecue newsletter worth checking out:

Tex Mex and Barbecue equals crazy delicious:

When you enjoy a slice of juicy brisket wrapped inside a warm tortilla, you’re celebrating the marriage of our two most beloved cuisines. This is nothing new at South Texas barbecue joints, where a side dish of rice and beans is as common as coleslaw and you’ll even find the occasional fideo. But the current Tex-Mex wave is deepening the bond between the two cuisines in new ways. You’ll find a lot more than just barbecue tacos, in other words.


Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint – Nashville, TN

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: Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint (Downtown location)
Date: 7/21/18
Address: 410 4th Avenue South, Nashville, TN 37201
Order: Big Poppa Sampler (Full Rack Ribs, 12oz Pork, 12oz Brisket, ½ Chicken, mac and cheese, green beans, fries) with 6 Memphis dry rub wings, 2 orders of hush puppies, and 2 cornbread hoe cakes (link to menu)
Price: $141 (for 6)

Speedy: With Monk coming to town, I had to take him to my favorite ‘cue in town – Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint. I had reviewed the OG location of Martin’s many years ago, but since then, three other Tennessee locations (as well as two Kentucky ones) have opened. While I greatly enjoy the food, I took Monk (and crew) to the downtown location, which is one of my favorite places in Nashville – barbecue or otherwise.

Monk: The downtown location of Martin’s is amazing – flat out. As soon as we stepped up into the upstairs beer garden, I knew it was going to get 5 hogs for atmosphere and ambiance. The upstairs was an airy, open air space with plenty of natural lighting and big ass fans to keep the air circulating. Besides the smokeroom off to the side, it had a small stage, two small bars flanking either side of the room, several long beer garden-style tables, ping pong, shufflepuck, and dartboards. If we ever hit it big from barbecue blogging, I will be taking photos of this space to an architect to replicate at the loft I would buy once I’m flush with all that theoretical barbecue blogging cashish.

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Speedy: With six of us in tow, we ordered the Big Poppa Platter, which consists of a full rack of ribs, 12 oz pork, 12 oz brisket, ½ chicken, and 3 pints of sides. We tacked on a few extra sides and a half dozen wings and we were good to go.

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I’ll start with the ribs. We ordered spare ribs instead of baby backs since they are bigger and we had six hungry men. The rack of ribs was massive – plenty for us all to eat. We ordered dry ribs, and they showed up heavily seasoned as a full slab. The ribs were tender, cooked perfectly, and delicious. I do wish we had ordered baby back ribs, as the quality of the meat is better. On the spare ribs, there was a big more tendon than I like, but that’s a nit-picky complaint. Overall, I could have used a little more spice in the rub, but the ribs are very, very solid.

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Monk: Martin’s is one of the few restaurants in Tennessee (or anywhere else, for that matter) that is still doing whole hog barbecue. With the purchasing power of a growing regional chain, I imagine they are able to make the economics work, but regardless I applaud them for continuing the whole hog tradition. As for the pork itself, our portion was a mixture of pork that was overall lighter than the darker meat of the shoulders predominantly used in the NC piedmont (though shoulders are also available on the menu). I’m not quite sure what the nuances are between western TN whole hog and what you’ll find in eastern NC or the Pee Dee region of SC (a topic which I’ll gladly earmark for more research later), but I quite enjoyed what Martin’s served.

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Speedy: The brisket is about as good as you can find in Tennessee. It had good bark and was cooked pretty well (maybe ever so slightly overcooked), but it is not on the same level as some of the Texas joints. Martin’s brisket does have nice tug and flavor, and has good bark, but it just doesn’t quite have the peppery goodness needed to reach the upper brisket tier. However, if I’m hankerin’ for a good brisket in Tennessee, Martin’s is the best choice there is. As a side note, while not sampled on this visit, Martin’s does offer a cheeseburger topped with brisket that simply is not to be missed. Beef on beef – brilliant!

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Monk: We don’t normally order chicken but seeing as how it came with the Big Poppa, we embraced it. Smoked chicken is not my jam but it definitely worked when dipped in the Alabama white sauce that came with the tray.

Speedy: The wings were good – using the same dry rub as the ribs (other flavors are available, but we went with the dry rub). They were smoked well, but could have stood to be a little meatier. Like everything at Martin’s, the wings were very good. Smoked wings can be a little difficult to find, so I appreciate a place that does them right, and Martin’s is that.

Monk: There were literally no complaints about any of the sides we got. Some of our group raved about the mac and cheese, others loved the green beans, and I thought the hush puppies were solidly above average. But I was most intrigued by the cornbread hoe cakes, an item I’ve not ever seen on a barbecue menu before. In western NC, our cornmeal comes in the form of hush puppies whereas in the east you’ll see cornsticks or more traditional cornbread. The hoecakes were savory and not overly sweet  but I would definitely get them again – I know Speedy gets them most times he visits. Oh, and they have Cheerwine and Sun Drop in glass bottles! So awesome.

With Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint in Downtown Nashville, all of the meats are consistently above average, the sides were great, and the space was awesome. One more thought on the space – after we finished our meal, our group stuck around for another hour or so, grabbing another pitcher while playing darts. I would have gladly stuck around for several more hours, but alas we were headed to Third Man Records before throwing axes in East Nashville (side note – Speedy showed the guys a great time that weekend in Nashville). I can see why Martin’s is Speedy’s favorite joint in the city and I would gladly go back for another meal at this or any of the other locations.

Atmosphere/Ambiance – 5 hogs
Pork – 4 hogs
Brisket – 4 hogs
Ribs – 4 hogs
Chicken – 3.5 hogs
Wings – 4.5 hogs
Sides – 4.5 hogs
Overall – 4.5 hogs

Woodlands Barbecue and Pickin’ Parlor – Blowing Rock, NC

Name: Woodlands Barbecue and Pickin’ Parlor
Date: 9/15/17
Address: 8304 Valley Blvd, Blowing Rock, NC 28605
Order: “The Hog” (pork, beef, ribs, and wings) with red slaw and collards (link to menu)
Price: $19.99

Monk: Let me state for the record that visiting Woodlands Barbecue and Pickin’ Parlor (quite a mouthful, that name) in Blowing Rock was neither the choice of Speedy nor me on our annual guys trip. But of course, when our Yelp Elite friend Dan chose it based on friend’s recommendation, we happily obliged. Though, just how would a combination barbecue and mexican restaurant located in the mountains of NC actually turn out? Turns out: not bad but not great.

Speedy: I had passed Woodlands on my drive in, so was definitely intrigued. And seeing a cheap combo platter on the menu made me very happy. Not as happy as when the waitress asked us what college we went to, but happy nonetheless…

Monk: …doing work at 35, son!

Speedy: For our order, we went with “The Hog” – the smaller of the two combo plates, as we were told the bigger combo (“Pig Out”) was the same plus three more sides. Well, we were there for the meat, so that didn’t seem worth while to us. The hog came with pork, brisket (both chopped), ribs, and wings, so it was basically perfect. We added on red slaw and collards.

Monk: Seriously, what two people need six sides? This was the second time in three weeks that I’ve seen chopped or pulled beef on a menu as opposed to sliced brisket. The common denominator? Western NC mountain barbecue joints. A quick search doesn’t yield much information about this style of barbecue but anecdotally I recall hearing in my travels that this was a popular barbecue meat in the mountains of NC. As for this version of pulled beef…it was actually not bad! The pulled strands of beef were smoky and had a good texture. I’m curious as to what cut of beef this was pulled from, but it was in the running with the pork for the best meat of the meal.

Speedy: The ribs, on the other hand, were a bit of a miss. They were big slabs of spare ribs, and could have been trimmed to the St. Louis cut for a much better presentation. When we ordered, the waitress asked us if we wanted spicy or sweet, telling us spicy meant vinegar. Of course, that’s what we chose, thinking it was in context of the pork. Instead, our ribs had the vinegar sauce on it and it just didn’t work that well. The cook and the tenderness of the ribs were OK, but overall, (start Randy Jackson voice) they just didn’t do it for me, dawg.

Monk: These full wings were weird and required makeshift butcher work on our part to separate the drumette from the flat from the tip. The aforementioned spicy vinegar sauce didn’t work as a wing sauce but the other option was more of a KC Masterpiece-type thick sauce so really there were no good options. I simply did not care for them and would not recommend them as an order. None of the sides rose above standard and are worth mentioning.

Speedy: I actually do want to mention the sides, Monk, because the collards were terrible. Throw some pork or bacon in there, people! Overall, however, it was a mostly pleasant dining experience, despite the fact that we had to deal with an obnoxious Yelper while we were eating (Hi, Dan! Also, thanks for the photos!). Would I recommend as worthy of going out of your way to try? No way, but I’d consider stopping in at Woodlands Barbecue and Pickin’ again should I return back to Blowing Rock.

For more reviews:
Yelp God Daniel B

Atmosphere – 3 hogs
Pork – 2.5 hogs
Beef – 2.5 hogs
Ribs – 2 hogs
Wings – 2 hogs
Sides – 2 hogs
Overall – 2.5 hogs
Woodlands Barbeque Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Fox Bros Bar-B-Q – Atlanta, GA

: 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.

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

: 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.


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

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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…

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

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Arrogant Swine – Brooklyn, NY

: 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.

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

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

: 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.

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

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Swig & Swine – Charleston, SC


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.

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

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