Weekend in Charlotte

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buffetbuster
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2009/04/16 16:28:55 (permalink)

Weekend in Charlotte

I am falling almost hopelessly behind in my trip reports, so I need to start doubling up.....
 
March 27, 2009
 
My flight got into Charlotte rather late, so I didn't have many options of places that would still be open.  So, I made my way to the Penguin Drive-in


This place is a little odd because not only is it not a drive-in, it has almost more of a bar feel than anything else.  There were so many cars outside, I had to park almost a full block away.  And when I went in, every table was taken as was every seat at the bar.  But, there were chairs next to a ledge against the near wall and I asked the waitress if I could sit there.  She said sure, so I grabbed a seat.
 
Considering I seemed to be the only one here over 25 years old and was in an out of the way location, I figured there was no way I was going to receive good service.  But several of the waitresses took turns filling my sweet tea glass and they really took great care of me.  Based on this piggie in the window,

bbq is one of the things they are best known for.  But since I planned on several more bbq stops in the next couple of days, I went in a different direction.
 
First up, the Race Track Dog,

with mustard, slaw, chili and onions.  None of the toppings were a standout, but everything worked well together for a fine dog.  I really enjoyed the sweet tang of the brunswick stew.

And to round out the meal, a fried bologna sandwich. 

The menu says it is thick cut, but that sure doesn't look thick cut to me.  Maybe I am just spoiled by my visits to G & R Tavern in Waldo, Ohio.
 
Penguin Drive-In
1921 Commonwealth Avenue
Charlotte, NC 
 
I checked into my hotel for the night.
post edited by buffetbuster - 2009/04/16 16:36:59
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    ayersian
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    Re:Weekend in Charlotte 2009/04/16 16:43:25 (permalink)
    Oh man, Buffetbuster, I'm really looking forward to this report.  I know you visited some of my favorite places from back home!  And don't worry about getting behind on reports -- if we started a club for Those Who Have Tons of Food Pictures Without Homes, we'd be inundated with memberships!  Keep 'em coming...  Chris
    #2
    buffetbuster
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    Re:Weekend in Charlotte 2009/04/16 16:55:30 (permalink)
    Oh Chris, I think I am going to disappoint you.  Since I had company on this trip, not all the restaurant choices were my own. 
    #3
    Buffalo Tarheel
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    Re:Weekend in Charlotte 2009/04/16 16:57:27 (permalink)
    Buffetbuster,

    Those are sure some great pictures so far, and I too look forward to the trip report.  That Brunswick stew is making me hungry, and after all I had to eat yesterday, there is no way I should be hungry.  The fried bologna is also making me hungry.  Hey, come to think of it, all the pictures are having that same effect.

    Chris,

    Can I join that club for the people with pictures and no reports done yet?  You might have to start charging for membership.
    #4
    RibDog
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    Re:Weekend in Charlotte 2009/04/16 17:07:57 (permalink)
    That's interesting.  I have never had olives in a brunswich stew before.  That is a new one on me.
    #5
    buffetbuster
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    Re:Weekend in Charlotte 2009/04/16 17:08:54 (permalink)
    RibDog-
    I am reasonably sure those are lima beans.  But it sure does look like olives, though.
    #6
    'QueperMan
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    Re:Weekend in Charlotte 2009/04/16 18:05:06 (permalink)
    Buffetbuster, I really enjoy your reports, they're the best, especially when you come to the old Tarheel State.  Being a huge BBQ fan, I am dying to make a trip to the several great BBQ locations in Charlotte and surrounding areas. 

    Keep em comin, you're the man.
    #7
    Nancypalooza
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    Re:Weekend in Charlotte 2009/04/16 18:14:41 (permalink)
    Cliff honey, around here that is thick cut bologna.  When I saw pictures like of the one you're referring to, I was shocked.  We think anything thicker than Oscar Mayer out of the package is thick cut bologna.
    #8
    Greymo
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    Re:Weekend in Charlotte 2009/04/16 18:21:53 (permalink)
    Nancy  take a look at this..............Now that is thick cut  and this photo does not really show how thick it is   (or how good).

    http://www.roadfood.com/Reviews/Overview.aspx?RefID=4793
    post edited by Greymo - 2009/04/16 18:22:57
    #9
    emsmom
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    Re:Weekend in Charlotte 2009/04/16 18:40:02 (permalink)
    Here in Gastonia, which is only 20 miles from Charlotte, we have several places that serve thick sliced bologna-they are all local places such as the CDA store, Balls Grill and Tonys Ice Cream and sanwiches
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    Buffalo Tarheel
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    Re:Weekend in Charlotte 2009/04/16 18:56:09 (permalink)
    Nancy,

    I had to laugh when I read your comment about bologna thickness because it is so true, or at least it was when I lived in eastern NC.  Even now whenever I use more than one slice of bologna on a fried bologna sandwich I still feel kind of decadent and wonder what laws I am violating.
    #11
    Nancypalooza
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    Re:Weekend in Charlotte 2009/04/16 19:33:04 (permalink)
    And I'm always amazed when it doesn't have a radial cut in it so it won't curl up in the pan, like the little Pac-Man shape.  I may be showing my humble beginnin's.  :)
    #12
    ayersian
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    Re:Weekend in Charlotte 2009/04/16 19:56:56 (permalink)
    Nancypalooza

    Cliff honey, around here that is thick cut bologna.  When I saw pictures like of the one you're referring to, I was shocked.  We think anything thicker than Oscar Mayer out of the package is thick cut bologna.

    Nancy, do you really live in my South Carolina?    Times could've changed, but I used to get fried bologna sandwiches at Tubby's (R.I.P.) on Cherry Rd. in Rock Hill, and they were 1/2-inch thick, standard.  As I recall, there was nothing on the menu that said "thick-cut" -- but it just was.  When I worked with my father at Dewitt's Meat Market in RH, we had a few regulars who'd come in and buy (for example) $3 worth of thick-cut bologna.  They tell me the exact setting on the slicer, and it was always at least 1/2-inch.  Maybe people at home prepare thicker cuts for themselves and not so much at restaurants, but I, too, was a little disappointed at the Penguin when I ordered the same sandwich last year...what a shame!

    I'm still on the prowl for the ideal fried bologna sandwich and have not found it yet...Chris

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    ann peeples
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    Re:Weekend in Charlotte 2009/04/16 20:58:10 (permalink)
    Ok, my friends.Havent eaten alot today-and that fried bologna sandwich looks great.I am going to go to my local butcher tomorrow( he makes his own cold cuts) and get some thick cut.....tomorrow night-fried bologna sandwiches!!!
    #14
    ChiTownDiner
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    Re:Weekend in Charlotte 2009/04/16 21:02:35 (permalink)
    ayersian

    Nancypalooza

    Cliff honey, around here that is thick cut bologna.  When I saw pictures like of the one you're referring to, I was shocked.  We think anything thicker than Oscar Mayer out of the package is thick cut bologna.

    Nancy, do you really live in my South Carolina?    Times could've changed, but I used to get fried bologna sandwiches at Tubby's (R.I.P.) on Cherry Rd. in Rock Hill, and they were 1/2-inch thick, standard.  As I recall, there was nothing on the menu that said "thick-cut" -- but it just was.  When I worked with my father at Dewitt's Meat Market in RH, we had a few regulars who'd come in and buy (for example) $3 worth of thick-cut bologna.  They tell me the exact setting on the slicer, and it was always at least 1/2-inch.  Maybe people at home prepare thicker cuts for themselves and not so much at restaurants, but I, too, was a little disappointed at the Penguin when I ordered the same sandwich last year...what a shame!

    I'm still on the prowl for the ideal fried bologna sandwich and have not found it yet...Chris
     


    Chris -
     
    In Memphis, I tried a least 5-6 bologna sandwiches and A&R was hands down winner!
     
     
    post edited by ChiTownDiner - 2009/04/16 21:04:45
    #15
    wanderingjew
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    Re:Weekend in Charlotte 2009/04/16 21:15:58 (permalink)
    Hey, weren't you just in North Carolina????

    I hate to say, it but it does look liked there's olives in that Brunswick Stew- Maybe next time, I can request some lima beans in my Martini?
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    ann peeples
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    Re:Weekend in Charlotte 2009/04/16 21:54:17 (permalink)
    They are not olives-although they look like that.Lima beans-although in the south they call them something different...However, WJ, anything soaked in a martini used to be good to me!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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    Nancypalooza
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    Re:Weekend in Charlotte 2009/04/16 22:26:20 (permalink)
    Chris, I live in the South Carolina right next to you where we didn't go to a meat market for anything--I didn't realize your dad worked in a meat market.  If the Bi-Lo or the Ft. Jackson Commissary didn't have it, we didn't eat it.  I was probably grown before I knew that bologna was sliced from anything.  Sad but true.
    #18
    buffetbuster
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    Re:Weekend in Charlotte 2009/04/17 14:12:02 (permalink)
    Nancy-
    I am truly shocked that the sandwich in the picture would be considered thick cut.  Thanks for telling me that per local standards, it really was thick cut.   
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    Buffalo Tarheel
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    Re:Weekend in Charlotte 2009/04/17 14:17:54 (permalink)
    Buffetbuster,
     
    I think that what defines a fried bologna sandwich as thick is the absence of the radial cuts that Nancy mentioned earlier (to keep the meat from curling up). It must be a sign of my upbringing (or lack of thinking - whatever it may be) that I still make those cuts when making fried bologna.  Now to try it without those cuts - if I dare.
    #20
    buffetbuster
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    Re:Weekend in Charlotte 2009/04/17 14:36:37 (permalink)
    If anyone happens to be visiting the U. of Georgia library, could you please point Ort Carlton towards this trip report!
     
    Saturday March 28
     
    I got up early and drove into Charlotte to have breakfast at John's Country Kitchen

    Arriving before it was light out, there was still a decent crowd of regulars inside.  My picture taking caused a bit of a ruckus and even though I was sitting at a booth towards the back and not at the counter, I was soon part of all the conversation.  And what a group of characters they have here.  It seemed like this is a group that has been eating breakfast with each other for years.
     
    At one point, an elderly white woman, who based on her appearance, was down on her luck, got up to pay.  A black man in his 40s told her "we got you covered" and when she started to put up a fuss, the whole place erupted into the singing of "we got you covered".  The attractive Hispanic waitress was doing a dance that looked like cabbage patching to me.  It was hilarious and I get the feeling, nothing unusual.  This is the most fun breakfast place since Niecie's in Kansas City.
     
    I started my meal with the pancakes.  A short while after ordering it, the waitress came over and asked if I wanted "Jimmy to butter my pancakes".  Interesting way of putting that query!  Jimmy

    is the owner, cook and head entertainer.  He runs a great place, with (I think) his mother.  When Jimmy found out I was Pittsburgh, I was instantly his buddy.  Even though he has Carolina Panther season tickets and has several Panther posters on the wall, the Steelers are his favorite team.  I can't begin to tell you how often that happens to me.
     
    Ok, on to the food.  The stack of three pancakes

    were perfectly light and fluffy and were indeed, buttered.  Nice touch.  As for the meat, the usual suspects were available along with brains and livermush.  Feeling daring, but NOT THAT daring, I tried the livermush. 

    Although this isn't something I would go out of my way to order again, it wasn't too bad at all.  And it really didn't taste livery, which may be a good thing.  The creamy insides was actually rather good.
     
    John's Country Kitchen
    1518 Central Avenue
    Charlotte, NC
    704-333-9551
     
    I went back to my hotel to relax before meeting my friend Lisa for lunch.
    post edited by buffetbuster - 2009/04/17 14:40:32
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    Nancypalooza
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    Re:Weekend in Charlotte 2009/04/17 16:31:36 (permalink)
    I don't think I've ever seen livermush before.  It looks like cake.  ;)
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    ayersian
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    Re:Weekend in Charlotte 2009/04/17 22:40:11 (permalink)
    Nancypalooza
    I don't think I've ever seen livermush before.  It looks like cake.  ;)

    Once again, Nancy, are you sure you're even Southern?  I'll have to ask for a copy of your birth certificate...   Chris

    P.S.  On second thought, maybe I'm simply more redneck than you.

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    tcrouzer
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    Re:Weekend in Charlotte 2009/04/17 23:18:22 (permalink)
    You are right, ayersian! I think most Southern folks I know have at least *seen* livermush before. Around here we call it liver pudding and Neese's is the brand of choice. About once or twice a year I have to buy a package to accompany my scrambled eggs for breakfast. And yes, the outside has to be a little crispy with the inside still somewhat creamy.

    Teresa, who's birth certificate may be from Kentucky, but who is definitely Southern (but not too redneck)
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    Nancypalooza
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    Re:Weekend in Charlotte 2009/04/18 09:01:05 (permalink)
    (whispering)  My birth certificate says (gulp) San Francisco, CA.
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    mar52
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    Re:Weekend in Charlotte 2009/04/18 10:17:57 (permalink)
    Ha!  You're a California Girl!

    Today is the 18th.  How did I miss this thread for two days?

    Livermush is devine and I think those limas are Fordhooks.

    Two things I learned visiting a friend's mother in Moncks Corner, SC.
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    ayersian
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    Re:Weekend in Charlotte 2009/04/18 16:58:45 (permalink)
    tcrouzer
    You are right, ayersian! I think most Southern folks I know have at least *seen* livermush before. Around here we call it liver pudding and Neese's is the brand of choice. About once or twice a year I have to buy a package to accompany my scrambled eggs for breakfast. And yes, the outside has to be a little crispy with the inside still somewhat creamy.

    Teresa, who's birth certificate may be from Kentucky, but who is definitely Southern (but not too redneck)

    Teresa, you're right on the money. Neese's in the waxed-paper packages are everywhere in the Carolinas.  Their hot sausage is also a favorite of mine, if I can't get locally made sausage.  I had the same livermush as Buffetbuster at John's, and each plank was very crispy on the outside and a little creamy inside -- absolutely delicious.  Not something I'd order all the time, but boy is it good when visiting as infrequently as I do! 

    Nancy, please don't think that I'd hold that against you.  I do credit you with the Shealy's find and my initial curiosity with Jucy Lucys!  As soon as Bruce is done with his New Orleans reports, I've got a 4-parter on Jucy Lucys for the Digest.    Chris

    post edited by ayersian - 2009/04/18 17:02:33
    #27
    ann peeples
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    Re:Weekend in Charlotte 2009/04/18 17:17:33 (permalink)
    I dared not try the livermush in N.C. on my last few visits there.I wanted to-but my cousin said it was horrible.I love stuff like that-and next time I visit, will absolutely have it!I actually like just about anything liver...!!!
    #28
    Nancypalooza
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    Re:Weekend in Charlotte 2009/04/18 17:18:55 (permalink)
    Can I attempt to buy back my credibility with this find?  Yankees in SC need no longer despair of not having their favorite pork byproducts available.  This was taken in the cooler at the Farmers' Shed, Lexington SC: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nancypalooza/3449413859/
    #29
    Ahi Mpls.
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    Re:Weekend in Charlotte 2009/04/18 17:30:54 (permalink)

      Hee-Hee Nancy, I saw " cooler "  and right away I thought you ment JAIL!!  I think scrapple sounds swell,is it liver-y? poor me, never came across any ( yet )   Dawn
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