Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Sticky Fingers - Augusta GA

Address - 277 Robert C. Daniel Parkway, Augusta, GA 30909 Website
Style - Sit-down restaurant

In Augusta for Christmas, my extended family decided to go to Stickey Fingers for a family dinner. This is one of a chain, based in Charleston SC. There is one in Wilmington NC, so it fits with this blog.

While waiting for a table, we saw an autographed picture and letter from President Bush posted on the wall. The pictures showed the president carrying a Sticky Fingers carry-out bag out of the front door of the main Charleston location and the president with the staff of the location. This certainly does impress.

The menu focuses on ribs, in various plates and combinations and with a number of different sauces and rubs. Our party ordered ribs, pulled pork barbecue or grilled chicken sandwiches (for those who do not eat barbecue).

The server first brought a basket on corn muffins, which were excellent. They were sweet and hot from the oven. My sister-in-law was glad that there weren't any refills, because she would fill up on the muffins.

I ordered ribs with Carolina Sweet Sauce and pulled pork barbecue, with baked apples and baked beans on the side. The ribs were decent. The ribs were heavy with meat on one side, making it easy to eat. My fingers did not get sticky. The pulled pork was drier than NC style, which needed extra barbecue sauce to make the consistency right, but it tasted good. The baked beans were as expected. The baked apples tasted homemade. It was a pleasant change from the expected fried apples.

The grilled chicken is described as being marinated for thirty-six hours (I think). Reports from the table indicated that the chicken was excellent.

Once I try the Wilmington NC location, I'll rate this restaurant further. Right now, I give a tentative Recommended.

Friday, November 17, 2006

A Disappointment - Skylight Inn, Ayden NC

Address - 4618 Lee St., Ayden NC
Style - Counter service, sit down restaurant

After long last, I finally got to try out a long time legend in eastern NC barbecue, the Skylight Inn. The building is a landmark on the old highway 11 south of town. The gravle parking lot was packed with cars, pickup trucks and vans at lunch.

The menu is pretty simple. Barbecue comes in a sandwich or three sizes of trays, small, medium and large. The tray comes with cole slaw in a separate tray and a slice of fried cornbread on top.

The cole slaw was pretty ordinary. The cornbread was heavy with oil. It could have used a bit more drain time. The parts that were not soaked with oil were not bad. The pork tasted average, but was overwhelmed by pieces of rubbery cartilage throughout the meat. I am used to a bit or two due to errors in the chop, but not in every bite. I don't think these were the crackling's that are normally in the Skylight barbecue, but actual bits of bone and cartilage from improper preparation.

According to Kent Craig, Pete Jones passed away this year. This food was served under the new owner. Perhaps it will improve in time.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Ole NC Barbecue has moved

Address - 3600 N Duke St, Durham Map
Style - Sit down Menu or Buffet Restaurant

After years in a nondescript, hard to find location in the strip mall, Ole NC Barbecue has moved into a building on a outparcel of the same mall. The building was originally a Darryl's, which was a chain of restaurants that closed back in the 1990's. Darryl's built the buildings to make it look like the building had grown like topsy, with many additions and changes in roofline. The inside of the buildings were distinctive as well, with a balcony wrapping around overlooking the main restaurant.

The last time I had been in the restaurant, it was a Chinese buffet restaurant. The lighting was subdued and the balcony was not obvious. Now, the lighting is back, so the interior architecture is obvious.

The food has not changed. Most of the buffet items are mediocre at best. The ribs were overcooked to be inedible. This place is still one of my guilty pleasures.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Recomended - McCall's BBQ & Seafood Restaurant - Clayton

Address - 10365 US Highway 70 West in Clayton, NC 27520 Map Website
Style - Sit-down restaurant with buffet

After wasting time looking around Smithfield for a particular restaurant that I could not find, I ended up driving up US 70 looking for a place to eat. The only BBQ I knew of in Clayton was Smithfield's, but any BBQ is better than none. About two miles from Clayton was a billboard for McCall's, which I had never heard of before. McCall's is across the highway from Smithfield's. Why not try something new?

The building looks a little industrial. It looks a little like a warehouse that has been covered with grey wood siding. The choice of grey just made it look more industrial. There are rocking chairs on a cement porch, which did not look real inviting. Inside the main restaurant is one huge room with high ceilings with a buffet stretched along one side. It was a little noisy for the number of diners.

I ordered lunch plate special. It came with two sides ( I took butter beans and stew ) and a trip to the dessert buffet. The pork was good. They smoke it on the premises and have a portable smoker for catering. It appears that they use gas, so the pork did not have that distinctive wood smoke flavor. The beans were nicely cooked, not the mush you sometimes get on a buffet. The stew was excellent. There were big chunks of pork in it and recognizable vegatables. The server brought a basket of hushpuppies partway into the meal, which were fresh cooked and excellent. The portion of pork was ample and I finished everything but the hush puppies. There were just too many to finish. I had what a blueberry cheese cake which was served in a flat pan on the buffet. It was a nice finish to a decent lunch.

McCall's also has a restaurant in Goldsboro. It will be worth checking out. This is definitely superior to the Smithfield's.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Recommended - Brookwood Farms BBQ, Siler City NC

If you do not make your own barbecue (and who does?), Brookwood Farms sells excellent barbecue in Harris Teeter and other large supermarkets around central NC. The barbecue is a reddish color, incorperating a little tomato from the west, but has a vinegar tang from the east. There are lots of the brown crispy bits emblematic of fire cooked barbecue. This barbecue is better that what I find in half the restaurants that I recommend in this blog.

My teenage son has started eating barbecue and he picked it out in the store. I had always considered supermarket barbecue to be lowest common denominator meat, that would need sauce or spice to make it edible. Brookwood Farms is great right out of the tub. Heat it in a sauceban and enjoy.

Their website is here.

AW's BBQ Pit - Durham

Address - 5204 Hwy 55 Durham, NC 27713
Style - Counter service, sit down restaurant

AW's replaced the Lewis BBQ on NC 55. Lewis had decent sides, but insipid barbecue. I had heard good things about the barbecue here, so I had high hopes. The restaurant itself was unchanged.

I had the chopped barbecue plate, with hushpuppies, potato salad and stew. The sides were good. The barbecue looked great, lots of the appropriate brown bits that comes from cooking over fire. BUT the vinegar in the sauce was overwhelming. I could not taste the meat.

Maybe this was just a bad day. I'll try this again. It has promise.

Update- AW's has a counter in the food court of the Triangle Outlet Mall in Morrisville. I didn't try it. The mall is nearly dead.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Barely Acceptable - Mr Barbecue and Stuff, Mall Food Courts

Out Christmas shopping, I stopped at the Mr Barbecue in the food court. I hadn't eaten at one in ages.

I ordered a small BBQ plate, which came with hushpuppies (two!) and two sides. The sides are in a steam table and didn't look too great. I had boiled potatoes and deep-fried vegatable sticks, which I had had a long time ago and they were pretty good then.

The barbecue was not as bad as it could be. It had a little spicy kick and some body to it. The sides were bleah. The hushpuppies were solid. The potatoes were edible. The veggie sticks were not as good as I remembered.

Next time, I'll hit one of the better, non-BBQ, places at the food court.

Update: The Mr Barbecue has disappeared from Northgate Mall in Durham.

Acceptable - Country Barbecue, Greensboro

Address - 4012 West Wendover Ave., Greensboro, NC 27514 Map
Style - Sit-down restaurant

Country Barbecue is another down-home no-frills barbecue places. It is on a busy city highway just west of a whole strip of auto dealers. As I parked, I saw a couple loading up their car with a cooler and bags of carryout. This seemed promising.

Inside, the restaurant is low key. The waitress service is good, as is the tea. Instead of a bill, the waitress leaves a slip of paper with your order coded on it to take to the register.

The regular sliced pork tray came with cole slaw and hushpuppies. The slaw was a little too sharp for my taste. The hushpuppies were a little doughy, as if they hadn't been fried in hot enough grease. The pork was bland, almost flavorless. I added some of the table barbecue sauce, which seemed a little watery, so there would be enough flavor to finish the meat.

Country Barbecue is another Lexington-style barbecue place. I have yet to find one that really stands out. Stamey's is much better for Greensboro barbecue.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Recommended - BBQ & Ribs Co. - Graham

Address - 501 South Main Street Graham, NC 27253 Map

From the outside, the looks of this place shouted mediocrity. It is very much a fast food restaurant. Inside, they have paper towels and BBQ sauces on the tables. The food is ordered at a typical fast food restaurant cash register, but you get a number and the order is served to the table.
Publish Post
The sliced pork, which came in chunks rather than slices, is fantastic. The barbecue chicken is coated with a thick (for Eastern style) BBQ sauce, which does not overwhelm the properly cooked chicken. The side dishes were acceptable.

This has become, on just a couple of visits, one of my favorite "fast" food restaurants, as well as one of the best barbecue restaurants. It is definitely a hidden treasure.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Acceptable - Rub's Smokehouse, Morrisville

Address - 10800 Chapel Hill Rd, Morrisville, NC Map
Style - Informal sit-down restaurant

The building was originally a barbecue restaurant, but for many years it was the Deli Box, a lunchtime spot for RTP denizens. As the Deli Box, they only served unsweetened tea. If you asked for sweet tea, they would tell you to go down to Davis Barbecue, a couple of miles down the road in Morrisville proper. The Deli Box served good sandwiches, which you could eat out on the picnic tables by the pond out back. Now, it is Rub's Smokehouse, a barbecue joint with promise.

I had the regular pulled pork plate, which I would have considercd lunch size. For dinner, get the large. Withe the pork came hush puppies and I chose baked beans and brunswick stew. The pork had flavor. It was nicely browned with a few dry bits. This is worth coming back for. The sides were average. The beans had personality, but nothing special. The stew had a hint of something canned and is not worth ordering again. The hush puppies were stone cold. I will try this place again. If larger servings of meat hold up and other sides are better, this place could get a recommended.

The quirkiest thing about the building are the bathrooms. There is no sink in the bathroom, just a hand sanitizer. Instead, there is a sink in the hall outside, which adjoins the main dining area. I do not remember this from when it was the Deli Box, but we always ate out back.

Comments on this Blog in other Blogs

From Going on Record , "Now here is a blog that most every North Carolinian can support..."
From Kent Craig's Homage To North Carolina-Style Barbecue, "The best North Carolina BBQ pure blog I've found."

Thank you.

Pitt County Barbecue Legend Dies At Age 77

From WRAL,
Pete Jones of the Skylight Inn has passed away.

There is one barbecue place out of the triangle that I would like to visit and review. It is the Skylight Inn in Ayden. (map). Other reviews have been mixed, but the place has such a history that I would love to visit the place.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Acceptable - Ole NC Barbecue, Durham

Address - 3600 N Duke St, Durham Map
Style - Sit down Menu or Buffet Restaurant

After a long cold, I finally get back to visitting barbecue restaurants.

Old NC Barbecue is a sentimental favorite. The food is not memorable, but the barbecue is pretty good, especially for a buffet.

When I was seated, I was asked whether I was going to order from the menu or buffet. I suppose that they try to seat people accordingly to keep buffet goers from inconveniencing the others. I was hungry and went for the buffet. I had barbecue, roast chicken, brunswick stew, potato salad and hushpuppies. The only notable item was the barbecue. It's typical eastern style with a little bite. After a decent plate, I hit the desserts including apple cobbler, banana pudding and banana creme pie.

Someday, I will not be so hungry and try the menu.