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Posted on Friday, November 13, 2015
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Comments (2)
Posted by Michael Stern on Friday, November 13, 2015 4:04 AM

The Central Savannah River Area is a land of excellent barbecue where Perry Foster's place is unique. Make no mistake: It IS excellent barbecue. But it's different. For one thing, the restaurant is open seven days a week. (Typically, barbecues hereabouts are closed Sunday through Wednesday.) For another, when you order pork, it isn't chopped or pulled as is the local custom; it comes sliced. Thirdly, the best meat in the house isn't pork at all; it is beef – ribs and brisket; or maybe it is mutton. If you are a nationwide barbecue aficionado, bells may be chiming just now, and if they are, the tune is the blues song "Kansas City."

For three decades before coming to Georgia in 2013, Perry Foster built his reputation as a barbecue man running his eponymous pit in Warrensburg, Missouri, about an hour southeast of KC. When he returned to Georgia, he brought some of the best of the Midwest's smoke house traditions. Mutton, for example (here called lamb), used to be a sleeper go-to dish at the legendary Arthur Bryant's in the pitmaster's heyday. Mr. Foster's mutton, sliced thin, is somewhat daunting: not juicy, in fact somewhat dry. But a few chews releases great waves of concentrated flavor – a smoke-saturated mineral smack unique to ewe meat. With a full ration of spicy red barbecue sauce, it is divine.

As for ribs, those of pork are definitely juicier, but beef ribs pack three times as much flavor. Hugely satisfying beef! Likewise brisket, which is in the Texas league of succulence. Sliced pork is quite alright, especially when painted with Perry Foster's good sauce, but there's better pork around Augusta. I've yet to find better barbecue beef.

Dandy side dishes: mac 'n' cheese that is super-creamy, greens that are oily and fetchingly bitter and vegetable-strong, gorgeous French fries that are each a significant cut from a potato, the outside logs still bearing skin; and baked beans that are thick and hammy, as satisfying as main-course stew.

Dessert is not particularly Midwestern; it is soul-food standards: red velvet cake, Key lime cake, pound cake, and sweet potato pie. All are fine, if not memorable.
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Posted on Friday, November 13, 2015

Beef and kraut encased in a fresh-baked bun
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Roadfood of the Day: Shirley's Diner - Omaha, NE
Posted on Thursday, November 12, 2015

A regional specialty designed for grilled cheese afficionados
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Posted by Michael Stern on Wednesday, November 11, 2015 3:52 AM

Located in the bipolar-named city of North Augusta, South Carolina, the BBQ Barn makes fine hickory-smoked meats with sauces that reflect the two states it practically straddles. The house specialty is Georgia Red Sauce, the hotter version of which is very hot with a sharp vinegar tang; and there is a less peppery version known as Smokey Sweet Red. Those with taste buds loyal to the Palmetto State can choose Carolina Gold, which is like the red but not as hot and tweaked with mustard, and a full-bore South Carolina mustard sauce.

Only the chopped barbecue really needs any sauce. While it is very moist, its duotone character of pork and smoke benefits tremendously from the spicy excitement sauce provides. Ribs and chicken, plastered with herbs and spice, welcome whatever sauce you like, but are complete and tasty without any additions whatever.

Long-cooked ribs quite literally separate into bone and meat at the slightest provocation, the meat offering minimal chew and maximum flavor. Chicken isn't quite as tender – you actually have to apply teeth to remove meat from bone – but it hums with smoke and spice zest, its semi-crisp skin especially luxurious.

Side dishes are less impressive than meats. Beans seem like standard-issue canned (not that there's anything wrong with that); baked mac 'n' cheese provides the comfort-food cushion that spicy barbecue wants, but little in the way of textural or taste excitement; hash and rice is mild enough that its flavor tends to be eclipsed by other things.

Cakes are a big deal, ranging from simple and good pound cake to Red Velvet Cake and extremely green Key Lime Cake to such extravaganzas as Peanut Butter Chocolate Happy Cake and that St. Louis specialty Gooey Butter Cake, (soft, dense, chewy, intensely sweet).

BBQ Barn is a clean, pleasant place with in-the-rough service: step to the counter, place your order, pay, then wait for your number to be called. Tote the meal to a table indoors or at one of the picnic tables outside. Everything comes on disposable dishware.
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Roadfood of the Day: Pepperfire - Nashville, TN
Posted on Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The very sight of Nashville hot chicken makes my mouth water. There really is nothing like it anywhere else, and Pepperfire's is among the very best. Pictured here is an X-hot breast quarter, ready to sound taste-buds reveille.
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Posted by Michael Stern on Tuesday, November 10, 2015 3:10 AM

Dale Fine concludes this leg of his hunt for the ultimate Iowa chop at the Big Steer. He writes:

Choosing my last stop for the Iowa Chop Hunt was a challenge. There were several more restaurants on my list but due to logistics, distance, or uncertainty, I ruled them out, at least on this trip. I decided to visit an old fixture on the outskirts of metro Des Moines: the Big Steer Restaurant and Lounge.

On-line reviews caution to get there early because of crowds, especially on weekends. This was Friday evening, so I took heed. Just after 5PM the crowd already was starting to build in the main dining room, which I can best describe as "supperclubbish" The hostess whisked me to a smaller annex room, where a half dozen tables seemed to be geared more towards private parties. I guess there weren't any this evening.

The meal began with a side salad with garlicky creamy parmesan dressing that was absolutely stellar. Two chop options were available: an eight-ounce boneless or a twelve-ounce French cut Iowa Chop. I chose the latter, French cut meaning that the meat is trimmed off the bone of the chop. Of course, I selected hash browns for my side; they were barely crisp but obviously fresh cut. The chop was one of the thickest I've seen – well-seasoned, flavorful. and tender, but inconsistent. It was juicy in some spots and bone-dry in others, which I suspect had something to do with its thickness. If the chop had been juicy throughout, it could have been the finest piece of meat that I've had in a long time. Sadly, it was not.

As I left, I noted that there wasn't an empty table in sight. I did love the atmosphere of the Big Steer, but was disappointed in a chop that did not live up to expectations.

Roadfood of the Day: Sabretti's - Hopatcong, NJ
Posted on Tuesday, November 10, 2015

On the left is the Nepatcong Dog with chili, cheese and onion crunch. On the right, the Thai dog with Thai sauce and onions.
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Posted by Michael Stern on Monday, November 9, 2015 3:53 AM

Please join us for dinner.

December 3 in DC.

December 9 in Atlanta.

On the evenings of December 3 in Washington, DC, and December 9 in Atlanta, Roadfood will be putting on the first in a series of unique dinners for a limited number of guests. The extraordinary banquets will feature six courses from around the nation – each a dish inspired by a legendary Roadfood restaurant – plus one special dish inspired by the home city. Jane and I will be the evening's hosts, and we plan to share stories from the road and lead a conversation among guests about finding and enjoying regional food. Forthcoming newsletters will give detailed information about the menu and the one-of-a-kind venues in which these dinners will be staged.

The price of a ticket includes the meal, unlimited beer and wine, and a signed copy of the latest edition of Roadfood. To learn more or purchase tickets, click here.

Posted on Monday, November 9, 2015

At Flaggstead Smokehouse, the 'PoBoy' is a pile of lightly sauced, chopped-up brisket on a bun.
Rate this place Reviews (2) Learn more about Flaggstead Smokehouse...
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