Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Recommended - Stamey's, Greensboro

Address - 2206 High Point Road, Greensboro NC Map
2812 Battleground Avenue, Greensboro NC Map
Style - Sit-down Restaurant Website

The only negative to Stamey's is the restaurant locations. The main restaurant is right across from the Coliseum, Greensboro's entertainment arena. The other is on a busy section of Battleground (US 220). At both locations, you almost can't make a left out of the restaurant's parking lot at lunchtime. Then making a U-turn takes blocks, if not miles. The food makes the hassle worthwhile.

Stamey's has a simple menu, with just chopped and sliced pork and barbecued chicken. The pork is quite tasty. A tough of sauce adds a little spice, but is not needed to taste the meat. The plates come with hushpuppies and slaw. Both sides are better than average.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Lexington Barbecue Festival This Saturday

If you can get there, this is a good day's fun. I may drop by late. More info at their web page.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Recommended - Jackson's Brothers, Sanford

Address - 2440 Jefferson Davis Hwy. Sanford NC Map
Style - Carry Out and Drive through

For years, the barbecue sign for Jackson's Brothers has been a landmark for me along US 1 in Sanford. The building is a tiny carry-out only restaurant in the middle of a huge gravel parking lot, nestled between Jackson Brothers Produce and a manufactured home sales lot. They only have carry out, but there are a few picnic tables under a tree across the parking lot in front of Ted's Wire Art Museum and Gift shop. The place has personality and darned good barbecue.

My lunch was just a sample, a sliced pork sandwich and a dozen hushpuppies. Except for a chunk of cartilage, the pork was excellent, reminiscent of Fuzzy's. The hushpuppies were great, typical of central North Carolina style.

The business has a web-site for all of the different businesses that Jackson Brothers run. It is a relic of old farm-based Southern living.

I'll definitely be back.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Plane Crashes into McCall's BBQ & Seafood, Clayton

About 10 am this morning, a single engine plane crashed into the front entrance of McCall's BBQ & Seafood on US 70 in Clayton NC. The restaurant was not yet open, so there was nobody in the dining room. About 20 employees were working in the kitchen and got out safely with no reported injuries. It appears that the pilot was killed in the crash.

Weather conditions were not favorable at the time. There was a low ceiling, fog and scattered rain showers. Eyewitnesses report that the plane came in low, apparently out of control, clipped some trees, tried to land in the parking lot, but crashed into the building.

Coverage on WRAL is here.

It is to be hoped that this excellent BBQ restaurant will rebuild and reopen.

Monday, September 10, 2007

The BBQ & Ribs Co. Chain May Be Gone?

According to Sue Stock in the business section of the News and Observer in the article, Strategy: smaller, subtler states that the BBQ & Ribs Co. in Raleigh is closing. Then in Taking Stock, she adds more detail, that the Chesapeake location is also closing and the Graham restaurant is being sold to an employee. After subsequent investigation, she reported that the Siler City location had closed in February.

The chain's web site is down as well.

This is not good news. BBQ Ribs & Co. is my favorite fast food barbecue chain, beating Smithfield hands down in restaurant decor and quality of food.

Update: As of 09/06/2007, the Graham location is still in business as BBQ & Ribs Co, with the same decent food.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Acceptable - Backyard BBQ Pit - Durham NC

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

Backyard Barbecue replaced AW's, which replaced Lewis's in the same building. The interior of the restaurant and the basic menu has not changed through the transitions.

I ordered the barbecue plate with potato salad and brunswick stew. It came with a handful of hushpuppies. The potato salad and hushpuppies were okay. The brunswick stew was decent tasting, but a smaller serving than I would like. The barbecue was much better than what I have had here. However, there was a mild aftertaste that caused me to not want to finish the plate.

I have heard that even though the ownership has changed, the barbecue master has stayed the same. This is great for continuity, but, in this case, the barbecue has not improved over time.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

"Pig Out", from the Columbus Ohio Dispatch

"Pig Out" in the Columbus Ohio Dispatch is a northerner reporter's view of North Carolina barbecue. Steve Stephens visited three stops on the NC Barbecue Historic Trail: Bridge's in Shelby, Lexington #1 in Lexington and Hill's in Winston-Salem. There is a short video on Hill's along with the article.

For a northerner, Stephens does a good job of covering NC barbecue. He gets a few of the details wrong, but nothing important. If he had gotten to any of the pits east of Greensboro, the distinctions between Eastern and Lexington would have been made clearer.

NC Barbecue Society Historic Trail

The North Carolina Barbecue Society has created the NC Barbecue Society Historic Trail, which visits 25 Historic Barbecue Pits stretching from Ayden to Murphy. The trail description can be found here.

Unfortunately, the term "historic" refers to past reputation, not necessarily current quality or reputation. There are a couple of places on the trail that have lost their lustre over the years. On the other hand, there are some real gems. The following are stops on the trail that I have visited and reviewed in this blog:

1. Skylight Inn, Ayden
8. Allen and Son's, Chapel Hill
9. A&M Grill, Mebane
10. Hursey's, Burlington
11. Stamey's, Greensboro
12. Short Sugar's
13. Fuzzy's, Madison
17. Lexington, Lexington

The trail is not a bad reference list for a barbecue tour. B's in Greenville and Stephenson's in Willow Springs have been on my radar for a while.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Barbecue Joint on TV

Last night, I caught the first segment of Rachel Ray's Rachael Ray's Tasty Travels on the Food Network the other evening on Best Barbecue. She went to Atlanta and Memphis, then said she was going to Durham NC. They even showed Duke Chapel as part of the segment opener. But, the restaurant was the Barbecue Joint in Chapel Hill. Chapel Hill is not Durham. They could have used shots of UNC, such as the Old Well instead of Duke Chapel. Even the Barbecue Joint said Chapel Hill in a quick shot. Other than that little gaffe, the review of the Barbecue Joint was straight on. It might be a little funky, but a great barbecue joint.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Short Sugar's - Postcard from the Road

Short Sugar's in Reidsville is featured in a Postcards from the Road article in the News and Observer. The history of the Short Sugar's name is well featured, but no mention is made of the other Short Sugar's in Danville VA.

The slideshow is tremendous. It gives a good representation of visiting the place.

Hog Heaven voted "Best Caterer" by CitySearch

From a Durham News news article, Hog Heaven on Guess Road in Durham has been voted Best Caterer by CitySearch, a Triangle web-site. Hog Heaven makes decent barbecue, but has never been made a good enough impression to get a top rating on this site.

Congratulations to Hog Heaven. It is good to see a barbecue place recognized for something other than its red-neck charm.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

"What's your beef" by Greg Cox

In yet another pro-Rub's posting, Greg Cox from the N&O lauds their beef brisket sandwich.

Executive Summary
The beef brisket sandwich at Rub's is good enough to be considered Carolina barbecue.
The beef brisket sandwich at Rub's is pretty good. It's chopped and has more personality than their barbecue. The competition for a good beef brisket sandwich in the Triangle is pretty slim. Would-be contenders are Danny's (my favorite), Jim's Original / Red Hot and Blue and the Q Shack.
If it's not pork, it is not Carolina barbecue, period. Beef brisket, Austin-style, is my favorite, but you have to go to Austin for that.

"Smokin'" by Greg Cox

Greg Cox posted this opening review of Rub's Smokehouse, Morrisville, on his blog, the Epicurean for the Raleigh N&O.

Executive Summary
Loves the ribs.
The chopped pork is decent.
Having not had the ribs (yet), I would temper my enthusiasm.

"Where to get your barbecue fix" by Greg Cox

Greg Cox, the food critic in the Raleigh News and Observer, publishes a blog called the Epicurean. He recently posted Where to get your barbecue fix about Triangle barbecue restaurants.

Executive Summary
Greg recommends four restaurants: Allen and Sons (north), Rub's (Morrisville), The Barbecue Joint (Chapel Hill) and the Q Shack (Raleigh).
The two barbecue restaurants in Chapel Hill are superb. Rub's is alright. We agree on three out of four.
My experience with the Q Shack has only been in Durham. I will need to check out the Raleigh location. I would have exchanged the Q Shack with one of the Danny's restaurants (RTP, Cary, Morrisville).

I will continue to track Greg's blog and post here his comments on barbecue restaurants.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Openings and Closings

Dan Murray's on Capital Boulevard in Raleigh is closed.

South House Cafe, formerly Lewis's, in Morrisville is closed.

A new barbecue buffet restaurant, "The Big Pig", has opened on Hillsborough Street near 15th in Durham. The building was a Mexican restaurant and before that a Chinese restaurant. Last week, there is a taqueria wagon parked next to building, reflecting its Mexican heritage. The building still looks like a Chinese restaurant from the outside. It'll be interesting to see how it looks on the inside.

AW's has been sold and renamed Backyard BBQ Pit, but has kept the same barbecyue chef.

Acceptable - Hog Heaven, Washington NC

Address - 1969 W 5th St, Washington, NC Map
Style - Sit-down restaurant

Some barbecue restaurants sell t-shirts or jars of their sauce at the cash register. Hog Heaven appears to have be a gift shop behind the cash register. It looked a little tacky.

The waitress brought a plate of hushpuppies and corn sticks before ordering. Both hush puppies and the corn sticks were dry and just edible. I ordered a barbecue plate, which came with slaw and bread (the hush puppies and corn sticks). When the plate came, it was just covered with a layer of barbecue. The slaw came in a separate dish for serving family style. The amount of slaw seemed to be small for the size of the party (as was the number of hush puppies and corn sticks), but in both cases, it didn't matter due to lack of interest in the food. The barbecue was acceptable, typical eastern style, with a nice note of vinegar. The quality of the meat earns this place an acceptable, but just.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Recommended - Fuzzy's Pit Cooked Bar-B-Q, Madison NC

Address - 407 Highway Street, Madison, NC 27025 Map
Style - Sit-down restaurant

Fuzzy is not a word I'd like to apply to barbecue, but Fuzzy's in Madison has been serving barbecue since 1954. Originally a drive-in, now this restaurant has sit-down, carry-out and catering. The building is wrapped in windows, so reflective that you cannot see inside. The only indication that it is a restaurant is the sign at the street. The woodpile next to the building by the catering entrance shows that the smoker is a wood burner.

The menu boasts that they only use lean pork and smoke over hickory. The resulting product is excellent. I ordered a sliced pork tray, which came with red slaw and hush puppies. The pork was among the best I've had at any restaurant. The slaw was very good, with just enough sauce. The hush puppies were made in long strands, which broke into irregular lengths. The only off note was that the hush puppies were unevenly cooked, with most of the hush puppy cooked right, with some parts overcooked to dry. Overall, this meal was a good experience.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Carolina BBQ Joints - Decent Forums

Carolina BBQ Joints is new web-site with some promise. The forums cover barbecue joints in the Carolinas and elsewhere. The forums are worth a visit.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Recommended - Short Sugar's, Danville VA

Address - 2215 Riverside Drive, Danville, Virginia 24540 Map
Style - Sit-down restaurant

After several so-so lunches at the Short Sugar's in Reidsville, I decided to try out the Short Sugar's in Danville. I'm glad I did.

I had the chopped pork tray with a side of potato salad. The tray came with a few hushpuppy rings and cole slaw. The menu mentioned a spicy hot cole slaw option, but the waitress didn't ask and I didn't press the matter.

The pork was excellent. It had the right amount of cooked crust and was sweet enough to not need any extra sauce. It did share the tray with sweet cole slaw, but had a distinctive sweetness of its own, which counterpointed the cole slaw. The cole slaw, hushpuppies and potato salad were decent, but unexceptional.

The Dansville restaurant seems better to me than the Reidsville joint, but both have promise. I do not know the history of the joints, even whether they share the same smoker.