Hot!Que & Stew of the Month (& Crappy Brit kitchens, too)

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MetroplexJim
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Re:Que & Stew of the Month 2013/10/20 10:38:44 (permalink)
I want to share one last video (saying that will mercifully stop me) from Southern Living.  In it, several renowned pitmasters are featured - the renowned Aaron Franklin and Rodney Scott, "the new superstar", among them. 
 
Even though Mr. Scott's restaurant is in South Carolina (in Hemingway, between I-95 and Myrtle), his 'style' (and sauce!) is most definitely Eastern NC.  In fact, I wouldn't be surprised that he is kin to these wonderful folk from Goldsboro, NC.
 

post edited by MetroplexJim - 2013/10/20 10:48:49
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Davebassman
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Re:Que & Stew of the Month 2013/10/21 11:29:04 (permalink)
ScreamingChicken

No, and neither are his 2 sons.  In fact, his younger son is a Duke grad, which would seem to make the entire Curry family unwelcome in Tarheel country!


Dell Curry is a Va. Tech grad, one of the all-time great Hokie sports figures. We graduated the same year from Tech, 1987 and Dell was in a couple of my classes my senior year. A really "class act" and father to a couple of outstanding basketball players.
GO HOKIES!!!!    
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buffetbuster
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Re:Que & Stew of the Month 2013/10/23 16:57:59 (permalink)
JRPfeff

Damn Cliff, you just ruined all my cheesy jokes about the clientele I saw at these joints.

Sorry about that!
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buffetbuster
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Re:Que & Stew of the Month 2013/10/23 17:07:59 (permalink)
Time to add on a few photos and descriptions from the day we spent driving around eastern North Carolina in search of 'que.
 
Even though the signs at Bum's all say it is a bbq joint, I have always gone there for the vegetables.  Like previously stated, I was bummed they didn't have rutabagas, but the cabbage especially made up for the disappointment.  And let me tell you, they put out a mighty fine, heavy on the wafers banana pudding!

 
Of the four places we sampled barbecue on this day, this place was clearly in last place.  Still, we couldn't help but notice all the locals all around us eating the bbq.  Considering Skylight Inn is five minutes away, I don't get it. 
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JRPfeff
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Re:Que & Stew of the Month 2013/10/23 19:56:39 (permalink)
buffetbuster
... Considering Skylight Inn is five minutes away, I don't get it. 

Maybe the locals like good vegetables and banana pudding with their barbecue.
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Re:Que & Stew of the Month 2013/10/23 20:16:04 (permalink)
As good an explanation as any!
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MetroplexJim
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Re:Que & Stew of the Month 2013/10/24 09:35:44 (permalink)
Without going into it, let's just say that Eastern Carolinia natives tend to be a bit "clannish". 
 
And that's not a bad thing; it just 'is'.
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JRPfeff
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Re:Que & Stew of the Month 2013/10/25 18:47:32 (permalink)

 
August 2013 - Short Sugar's Drive-Inn, Reidsville
 
Mea culpa. We almost missed Short Sugar's. I programed the GPS before we left Country Barbecue. All systems go, smooth sailing as we cruised up US Hwy 29. Good thing Pie Diva pays attention, because as we were passing Reidsville she asked why we weren't getting off. I slowed suddenly and took the slip road. It turns out I chose the other Short Sugar's in Danville, VA on the GPS. I haven't figured out the relationship between the two Short Sugar's.
 
I am certainly happy we did not miss the Reidsville Short Sugar's, it is one of the best Carolina barbecue restaurants we've been to. Short Sugar's has been reviewed at Roadfood.com, is listed on the NCBS Historic Trail, and has been featured in Our State.

 
We lucked out and grabbed two stools at the counter, with a full view of food preparation and the barbecue pit. The smokiness inside of Short Sugar's was wonderful. This is the real deal. 
 
I don't recall much about the Brunswick Stew, but it has a decent score on my BBQ log.

 
I don't remember much about the hush puppies either, but they were marked as top rated on our list. They must be REALLY good. 

 
This is the finely chopped pork... 

 
... and this is Short Sugar's coarsely chopped pork.  

 
We ordered both after a bad experience with the coarse chop at a different BBQ establishment. At Short Sugar's the coarse chopped ruled.  It had bits of bark and a more pronounced smoke flavor than the fine chop. Both were first rate barbecue. I really liked Short Sugar's barbecue sauce, more there than tomato & vinegar - lots of Woostie sauce. I bought a bottle.
 
We rated the slaw as poor (I should have sauced it...).
 
This a peek at the barbecue pit. 

 
Short Sugar's was a great experience. It exceeded expectations and their barbecue lived up to the restaurant's visual appeal (I think that's a cloud, although it looks like smoke coming from the chimney). 

 
post edited by JRPfeff - 2013/10/25 23:49:44
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Michael Hoffman
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Re:Que & Stew of the Month 2013/10/25 21:01:18 (permalink)
You're killing me with all this barbeque. But you know that, don't you?
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JRPfeff
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Re:Que & Stew of the Month 2013/10/25 23:29:38 (permalink)
MH - Eating it about killed me.
 
jrp
 
p.s  Thanks for pointing out the pie stop for our December trip thru Ohio.
Michael Hoffman
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Re:Que & Stew of the Month 2013/10/26 12:16:53 (permalink)
Oh, make it two stops -- Henry's in West Jefferson and Bush's in Logan.
mikeam
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Re:Que & Stew of the Month 2013/10/26 19:26:32 (permalink)
Great Job. Thanks for sharing.
 
JRPfeff
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Re:Que & Stew of the Month 2013/10/27 15:33:52 (permalink)

 
August 2013 - Allen & Son Barbecue, Chapel Hill

This is the real Allen & Sons. Not the imposter. Dining here renewed my faith in the judgment of others. Allen & Sons has received great reviews at Roadfood.com and also is listed at Our State and the NCBS Historic Trail.
 
This was the third lunch of the day for Pie Diva and me, so we were pretty full.  We ordered the pork & Brunswick stew combo. The smoke we smelled in the restaurant was in the pork. This is as close to how I prepare barbecued pork to anything I've had in North Carolina. It it served puled, not chopped, and contains pieces of the smoky bark. It was perfect either with or without their eastern-Carolina style sauce.

 
We didn't find the Brunswick stew or slaw to be anything special.

Allen & Sons fritters were different from anything we had elsewhere. The fritters had a buttery flavor and a crispy texture. We liked them a lot.

 
Pie! Allen & Sons serves pie. Their Coconut Chess Pie was fantastic.

 
Allen & Sons in Chapel Hill is the best barbecue we've had so far on our exploration of North Carolina barbecue.
post edited by JRPfeff - 2013/11/08 21:31:31
ScreamingChicken
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Re:Que & Stew of the Month 2013/10/28 11:31:33 (permalink)
Allen & Son's sign could stand a touch-up.  When I first saw the photo I thought it read, "Alien & Son".
Michael Hoffman
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Re:Que & Stew of the Month 2013/10/28 11:45:12 (permalink)
Surely you know that anyone who would make that stuff must be an extraterrestrial.
buffetbuster
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Re:Que & Stew of the Month 2013/10/29 07:22:09 (permalink)
JRPfeff-
Love the photos and descriptions from the last two places. Both Short Sugar's and Allen & Son are on my short list of North Carolina favorites.  And that is perfect the way that cloud looks like smoke.
 
It is a little surprising that a place as good as Allen & Son also has such excellent pies.  It seems that most of the very top bbq parlors either don't have dessert or have either a cobbler or banana pudding.  BTW, that is not a complaint.  If it gets the PieDiva seal of approval.....   
JRPfeff
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Re:Que & Stew of the Month (& Crappy Brit kitchens, too) 2013/11/08 21:00:43 (permalink)

 
November 2013 - Stephenson's Bar-B-Q, Willow Springs

Stephenson's Bar-B-Q is another choice from the NCBS Historic Barbecue Trail. Jim Early of NCBS really likes Stephenson's, he wrote in Tar Heel Barbecue:
Paul began a barbecue business by raising his own pigs. Although he had never cooked a pig, Paul built a very small building in 1958 to start a barbecue business. So as not to embarrass himself, Paul got behind a tobacco barn, dug a pit and cooked his first pig. Paul’s pig turned out fine. In July 1958, Paul opened his little barbecue place.
 
The chopped barbecue comes in a moderately coarse chunky chop. It is without a doubt the smokiest, woodsiest, richest tasting ’cue you will ever eat. It’s a good mix of outside brown with inside white and fat, but not greasy. This barbecue is not just good; it is great. Fantastic flavors explode in your mouth. You will pound the table and your toes will crimp. It’s that good. The barbecue is sauced in the kitchen and you don’t need more.
Upon entering I found myself a seat and was promptly served my Pig & Brunswick Stew Combo. The hush puppies are as good as any I've had, sweet & crispy just like they should be.

 
Jim Early's comments on the pork almost exactly mimic my thoughts. My only quibble would be the smokiness, which I rated as moderate. Still the meat was fabulous, very rich and no need for sauce. It is pulled and coarsely chopped, just as I like it.
 
My combo included my choice of 2 sides. I chose coleslaw and steamed cabbage. The slaw was very bright and had a good sweet flavor. I think they may add chopped sweet pickles to the slaw. Although I really liked the slaw, I did not care for it mixed with the pork. One bite like that and I ate the rest of my pork just as it was served.
 
Stephenson's Brunswick Stew was excellent, too. I think its my favorite yet. It's very rich with a lot of vegetables and some fine bits of meat. It had good tomato flavor in the broth.

 
Stephenson's Bar-B-Q was about half full when I stopped for lunch today. They have one of the larger seating areas of the barbecue restaurants I've been to on the Q&S crawl.


Stephenson's Bar-B-Q may offer the best overall combination of Que & Stew & Slaw & Puppies of any of the restaurants I've been to so far. I'll have to go back to Allen & Sons on an empty stomach to do further research.
 
The restaurant is fairly close to Raleigh, but it's a bit of a pain for me to get there. They offer no pie, but they do have banana pudding. Better yet, Sunni Sky's was on the way home.
post edited by JRPfeff - 2013/12/17 21:21:31
ScreamingChicken
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Re:Que & Stew of the Month (& Crappy Brit kitchens, too) 2013/11/09 09:40:52 (permalink)
JRPfeff

My only quibble would be the smokiness, which I rated as moderate.
Which means Stephenson's would probably never make it up here in the land of "the smoke equivalent of a hickory twig is what the people want" barbecue...
buffetbuster
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Re:Que & Stew of the Month (& Crappy Brit kitchens, too) 2013/11/10 07:45:36 (permalink)
Wow, that plate of 'que really looks good!  Glad to see that Stephenson's lived up to it's billing.  Considering how many well-known bbq parlors you have already been to on this odyssey, to say it might be the best one yet is really high praise.  I know where I am going next time in the area. 
JRPfeff
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Re:Que & Stew of the Month (& Crappy Brit kitchens, too) 2013/12/17 20:48:46 (permalink)

 
December 2013 - Little Richards Bar-B-Que, Winston-Salem
 
Looking for a convenient stop on our way to Asheville, Little Richards Bar-B-Que fit all our criteria. Little Richards is on both the NCBS BBQ Trail and in Our State, and we would get there during the lunch hour with only a slight detour from I-40.
 
Little Richards offers both coarse and fine chopped pork, all of it from shoulder meat. The meat is very moist and flavorful. They do a very good job of picking out the gristle and fat. We saw none in our trays.

 
Pie Diva preferred the course-chop, she liked the firmer texture and a bit more smoky flavor. I actually liked Little Richards fine-chop, mainly because I could more easily get forkfuls of both pork and slaw. I really loved the Piedmont-style red-slaw, tart and sharp tasting, it was perfect with the smoky meat.

 
Little Richards course-chop included a lot of flavorful bits of chopped bark.  This is close to how I serve the pork from my pit. 

 
The hush-puppies were sweet with a hint of onion, just how we like them.

 
Little Richards Brunswick Stew was adequate, but paled in comparison to their meat. 

 
Little Richards is pushing toward the top of my North Carolina favorites. The pork, slaw and hush-puppies are all among the best I've tried.
post edited by JRPfeff - 2013/12/18 12:20:53
buffetbuster
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Re:Que & Stew of the Month (& Crappy Brit kitchens, too) 2013/12/18 08:22:35 (permalink)
JRPfeff-
Oh man, does that food look good!  I love a good bbq slaw.  And on top of that, a great neon sign.  Would love to see that at night.
 
Any chance Little Richard's has tutti frutti ice cream for dessert?
JRPfeff
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Re:Que & Stew of the Month (& Crappy Brit kitchens, too) 2013/12/18 12:15:05 (permalink)
bb - I suspect the neon is awesome at night. It was so bright when we were there that we could barely see the pigs lighting up in series.

I wouldn't know a Little Richard song from a Rich Little song.
post edited by JRPfeff - 2013/12/18 12:22:33
EdSails
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Re:Que & Stew of the Month (& Crappy Brit kitchens, too) 2013/12/18 12:31:54 (permalink)
JRPfeff----that stew from Little Richard's looks amazing!
JRPfeff
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Re:Que & Stew of the Month (& Crappy Brit kitchens, too) 2014/02/04 20:53:57 (permalink)
I'm following ScreamingChicken's lead and keeping this thread going into 2014.
 
January 2014 - Stephenson's Bar-B-Q, Willow Springs
 
If you are paying attention, you already know this is a rerun. Sort of. After I told Pie Diva about my meal at Stephenson's, we made it a priority to take her there when she came to NC in January.

 
When we got out of our truck, we noticed a different smoky smell than most barbecue pits. In addition to wood smoke, there was also the scent of pork fat dripping onto hot coals. The smell is reflected in the flavor of the pork. The flavor is due to Stephenson's unique cooking approach.
The wonderful pork offered by Stephenson’s Barbecue is cooked over coals for about seven hours. The meat is then turned and slowly cooked for another two hours. Paul then leaves the meat on the pits six or eight hours more to smoke. The pit is three bricks thick. The heat in the bricks and the dying coals cause the meat to drip slowly all night.
Pie Diva also loved the Brunswick Stew, agreeing it was the best we've eaten. Stephenson's is our choice for:  
 
BEST BARBECUE IN THE TARHEEL STATE.
 
I'm surprised that Stephenson's Bar-B-Q has not received the acclaim they deserve.
post edited by JRPfeff - 2014/02/05 09:04:31
Pancho
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Re:Que & Stew of the Month (& Crappy Brit kitchens, too) 2014/02/05 08:55:20 (permalink)
Thanks for the great reports! I will be headed to Stephenson's later this month as I'm headed over to visit friends in Boone from Myrtle Beach....BTW...that would be the TarHEEL State.
JRPfeff
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Re:Que & Stew of the Month (& Crappy Brit kitchens, too) 2014/02/05 09:10:31 (permalink)
Oops, fixed it. Thanks Pancho.
 
Stephenson's Bar-B-Q is very convenient to I-40, less than 5 minutes from an exit. If you have another 1/2 hour to spare, Sunny Sky's Homemade Ice Cream is worth it. Over 100 different flavors of really good ice cream.
Pancho
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Re:Que & Stew of the Month (& Crappy Brit kitchens, too) 2014/02/05 09:18:07 (permalink)
JRPfeff

Oops, fixed it. Thanks Pancho.

Stephenson's Bar-B-Q is very convenient to I-40, less than 5 minutes from an exit. If you have another 1/2 hour to spare, Sunny Sky's Homemade Ice Cream is worth it. Over 100 different flavors of really good ice cream.
Thanks! I remember your previous review of that place. Strangely enough I think a caught a misspelling on that one, too! Sounds like a perfect dessert spot.

JRPfeff
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Re:Que & Stew of the Month (& Crappy Brit kitchens, too) 2014/02/05 09:30:01 (permalink)
You better call Sunny Sky's before going. We were TTM'd in January.
Pancho
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Re:Que & Stew of the Month (& Crappy Brit kitchens, too) 2014/02/05 09:42:56 (permalink)
JRPfeff

You better call Sunny Sky's before going. We were TTM'd in January.
Sunni Sky's is closed from 12/1-2/28. They reopen on March 1st...perfect for us as we are leaving Myrtle headed to Boone on 3/1.

JRPfeff
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Re:Que & Stew of the Month (& Crappy Brit kitchens, too) 2014/02/15 20:09:08 (permalink)

 
February 2014 - Smokey's BBQ Shack, Morrisville

Smokey's isn't on any of my best-of lists, but I decided to try them anyway. I had several reasons, the place had "the look" of a decent Que-place, it had very good online ratings, and it is within convenient driving distance from my apartment. It also gave me a chance to compare an "unranked" BBQ pit to those in the Sweet 16 and Elite 8 of Carolina Que.

I ordered a 2-meat platter (pulled pork and sliced brisket) which came with 2-sides and hush puppies. My first bite was a hush puppy, it was cold. That may have been was definitely the high point of my meal.

 
The pork had a roasted pork flavor and no noticeable smoke. It was not very moist, so I added the vinegar-based sauce.
 
The slaw was very plain tasting, so I added the vinegar based sauce to that, too.
 
That vinegar-based sauce was not typical of anything I've had in North Carolina. It was more like a K.C. style sauce with vinegar added. It did not taste right.

 
I did not like the Brunswick Stew. I could have added that vinegar-based sauce, but I think the vinegar-based sauce was the main seasoning they used in the stew. The brunswick stew had a "sharp" flavor that I did not like. I tossed out almost the entire cup.

 
I ordered the sliced brisket based on an Urbanspoon review from a Texan that gave the brisket great praise. For me, not so much praise. Let me put it this way, for barbecue brisket, it made great jerky. The brisket must have spent the entire day under a heat lamp, it was the opposite of excellent. I added the other sauce, which tasted okay. I choked it all down.
 
Despite my less than exceptional dining experience, I am glad I tried Smokey's. I had been to so many barbecue restaurants in North Carolina that I thought were great, that I thought that I may have lowered my standards. I hadn't. Stephenson's, Little Richard's, Short Sugar's, and Allen & Sons really are excellent. Smokey's put them in perspective for me. Smokey's doesn't make the tourney, they aren't even an ACC also-ran.
 
I also learned to trust my lists. And to hold the online reviews at Urban-yelp-advisors in utter contempt.
post edited by JRPfeff - 2014/02/15 21:25:17
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