BBQ Jew’s View: Adam’s Roadside Bar-B-Q

Highway 70 West of the Wal-Mart, Goldsboro, NC
(919) 739.3859
Website
BBQ Jew’s Grade: C+
Porky Says: “Hold the sauce!”

Drive By Barbecue
Adam's Goldsboro (9)
I had high hopes for Adam’s Roadside Bar-B-Q, in part because of the phrase “hickory smoked” on the sign outside and in part because there is another barbecue joint on Highway 70 in Goldsboro by the name of Wilber’s.  I figured Adam’s must be doing something right to compete in Wilber’s country.   Unfortunately, my sense is that what Adam’s is doing to compete is not to serve superior barbecue.  While Wilber’s focuses on the fundamentalist wood-fired, whole hog barbecue native to Eastern NC, Adam’s has gone whole hog into the new age of barbecue.  Need some “Texas-style” brisket? Adam’s has it.  Pork ribs?  Sure.  Chicken? Why not?  Turkey? Yes! NC-style chopped pork BBQ?  Oh yeah, that too.

As frequent visitors of this site know, when I review a barbecue joint I focus primarily on the Holy Trinity of North Carolina barbecue, namely chopped pork, slaw, and hush puppies/corn bread/corn sticks.  The rest of the menu, with some exceptions, is just noise.  Sometimes it’s delicious noise, sometimes it’s not, but it is not how I judge a North Carolina BBQ joint.

My experience at Adam’s was less than perfect from the start.  The folks who work there were nice but communication between the kitchen and the front counter was poor.  Below is what came out the 2nd time around after I tried to get my order of barbecue and brisket with sides of BBQ potatoes and slaw corrected. (They got the brisket right but struck out on the other three both times.)

Adam's Goldsboro (7)

Such things happen from time to time, and the owner resolved it to my satisfaction by apologizing and throwing in a free BBQ & slaw tray.  I appreciated that, though I still am curious how those BBQ boiled potatoes taste…

Less pleasant was the outdoor dining area, where I tried not to be bothered by the swarms of flies that hovered around my plate; honestly the most flies I’ve ever witnessed except on the Discovery Channel.  The flies combined with the distinct smell of sewage to send me running for my car after a few minutes.  (For the record, it had been pouring down rain and I suspect a septic system at the restaurant or nearby was struggling … sh*t happens!)

Neither the flies nor the distinct odor were appealing, but it was the pool of sticky, sweet sauce that drenched the ribs Continue reading

BBQ Jew’s View: Carolina BBQ

2307 N College Road, Wilmington, NC
910.392.1955
No Website
Hours: Monday to Sunday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
BBQ Jew’s Grade: C-
Porky Says: “The biggest (not best) BBQ joint in the state.”

Big Enough to Swallow a Lion
Carolina BBQ has a couple of locations in Wilmington, one in Kenansville, and one somewhere in Virginia, if my waitress was telling me the truth.  I stopped at the N. College Street location, which is a mile or so from Interstate 40 at exit 420.  Speaking of 420, one would need to be mighty stoned to think the barbecue is good here, but I still enjoyed parts of my meal despite being stone cold sober.

The best part about a visit to Carolina BBQ at N. College Road is the atmosphere.  It must be the largest barbecue restaurant in the state in gross square footage (the picture at left does not do the vastness of the space justice).  It feels like you could fit an entire grocery store inside the restaurant, which is quite true given it inhabits a former Food Lion.  As the hermit crab-like replacement for Food Lion, Carolina BBQ is the de facto anchor tenant in a strip mall that features a nail salon, Subway, and a few other non-descript businesses (I would describe them were they not so resolutely non-descript).  I was sincerely impressed with the interior decorating job, which managed to make a grocery store feel almost homey.  Sure, the seating capacity is enough to house probably 10 times the number of people ever likely to enter Carolina BBQ at one time, but it is a creative and attractive reuse of a difficult to fill space.  The large historical BBQ photos printed on the far right wall are particularly interesting.

All You Care to Eat (and Then Some)
Carolina BBQ features “buffet style” dining.  This means it is a buffet.  I am not sure where the style comes in. Continue reading

BBQ Jew’s View: Huey’s Restaurant & Oyster Bar

7601 Highway 70 East, Mebane, NC
919.563.6731
Website
Hours: Tu-Th 4 – 8:30, Fr-Sa 4-9, Sun 12-8:30
BBQ Jew’s Grade: C-
Porky Says: “This barbecue is fishy.”

Beware Inland Seafood & Coastal Barbecue
I’ve always been wary of seafood restaurants that are located far from the coast, and even more wary of beachside barbecue joints.  Huey’s Restaurant & Oyster Bar is located in Mebane, a long ways from the beach but on the edge of Lexington-style barbecue country.  The family-owned business has been around for well over 50 years and has a menu sure to please anyone.  (Don’t take my word for it, listen to the woman who magically teleports herself onto the restaurant’s website.)  Well, almost anyone.

Huey’s features a large array of dishes, with an emphasis on steak and seafood, as well as barbecue.  You can get everything from $26 filet mignon with lobster to $17 snow crab legs to a $6 BBQ tray.  Huey’s also offers flounder, shrimp, clams, oysters, scallops, chicken, jalapeno poppers and much more.  Guess what I had? Yeah, well that comes as no surprise.  What is surprising is that the barbecue at this 54 year old dining institution tastes institutional.

Unfortunately, especially for those of us still mourning the loss of the A&M Grill, Mebane’s recently shuttered barbecue temple, Huey’s fails to deliver on its promise of “tempting” barbecue.  As with all restaurants that serve raw shellfish in North Carolina, the restaurant displays a warning from the NC Department of Environmental & Natural Resources warning patrons that, “Eating raw oysters, clams or mussels may cause severe illness.”  I wonder why no such warning appears in places serving lousy barbecue? “Caution,” the sign could say, “the barbecue you are about to ingest may cause severe emotional distress.” Continue reading

BBQ Jew’s View: Brushy Mountain Smokehouse & Creamery

201 Wilkesboro Blvd., North Wilkesboro, NC
336-667-9464
Website
Hours: Mon & Wed-Sat 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sunday Buffet from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
BBQ Jew’s Grade: C
Porky Says: “A pitless pit stop.” 

Bobby Flay’s Kiss of Death
Few self-respecting Carolina barbecue joints have websites.  Fewer still would be proud of an appearance on a TV show featuring the Food Network’s brash yankee know-it-all Bobby Flay.  The Brushy Mountain Smokehouse and Creamery has a website that touts its 2005 appearance on “BBQ with Bobby Flay.” Leaving those sins aside, the Brushy Mtn. Smokehouse has its advantages: namely the combination of homemade ice cream and a large menu sure to please a variety of tastes.

No Pit Stop
The relatively wide range of offerings available at Brushy Mtn. Smokehouse make the restaurant a nice pit stop for family road trips in the heart of stock car racing country. (North Wilkesboro, where Brushy Mtn. Smokehouse is located, is famous for its legendary speedway and its prominent role in the history of stock car racing, which was tied closely to moonshining, another local tradition.) Alas, this barbecue pit stop features no traditional wood pit, as the barbecue at Brushy Mtn. Smokehouse is cooked over gas.

Brushy Mtn. Smokehouse offers a sizeable menu that includes barbecued ribs, chicken and pulled pork, all dishes that are “on track” for a barbecue joint (pardon the pathetic attempt at a car racing pun).  Alongside these legitimate dishes, the Smokehouse offers a few items that raise a caution flag for me, most notably the Barbecue Crunchers (“Our famous Smokehouse Barbeque nestled inside a crunchy tortilla shell flavored with our homemade sweet Barbeque Sauce”). Did they just say “nestled” and “tortilla”? Oh dear.

With items like catfish and potroast on the menu, it is safe to say that the Brushy Mtn. Smokehouse does not consider itself a traditional Carolina barbecue joint, and thus it is probably unfair for me to judge it in that context.  But that is what I do on this site. Suffice it to say that the chopped/pulled barbecue is standard, middle of the road fare, neither particularly good nor particularly bad. I’ll spare you the details and leave it at that. The good news is that after your meal, you can head into the attached Creamery, where many varieties of homemade ice cream are available. My family enjoyed the ice cream and we had a good time, even if the barbecue isn’t nearly good enough to take a checkered flag.

BBQ Jew’s View: Blue Note Grill

4125 Durham-Chapel Hill Boulevard, Durham, NC
919.401.1979
Website
Hours: Mon-Thu 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Fri-Sat 11 a.m. to 12:30 a.m.
BBQ Jew’s Grade: C-
Porky Says: “Nobody loves their Q but my mother, and she could be jivin’ too.”

Singing the Low Down, So-So Barbecue Blues
If you’ve been reading this site for more than a couple of weeks, you’re probably aware that I get a bit cranky about places that serve so-called North Carolina barbecue but don’t know seem to know the difference between a ham and a shoulder.  The folks at Blue Note Grill are trying to learn the art of NC ‘cue but they have a long way to go.  The Blue Note Grill does many things right, but barbecue is not among them. 

Butter My Toast, Not My Bun
The Blue Note is a classic bar and grill that serves up pretty good food, frequent live music, and a variety of adult beverages to wash down the workaday blues.  Their menu includes quesadillas, hand-ground burgers, pork chop sandwiches, fried pickles and banana peppers, onion rings, sweet potato fries, chili, salads and a whole lot more.   As far as I can tell its a place Continue reading

BBQ Jew’s View: Smokey’s BBQ Shack

 
10800 Chapel Hill Road, Morrisville, NC
919.469.1724
Website
Hours: Mon-Wed 11-2, Thu-Fri 11-7:30, Sat 11-7
BBQ Jew’s Grade: C
Porky Says: “Smokey’s is just okie dokie.”

Authentically Inauthentic (or Vice Versa)
Smokey’s feels like what people who didn’t grow up in barbecue country expect a barbecue joint to feel like.  From the joking “Entrance Only – Do Not Enter” sign on the front door to the joint’s a bit too cutesy motto (“The BBQ Rocks and So Do Most of the Tables!”), it has a tongue-in-cheek hillbilly vibe that is both endearing and a little bit grating.  (Judging from the large lunchtime crowd, which was diverse but leaned toward white collar RTPers easily identified by their ID badges, most people find the hillbilly vibe more endearing than I do.)  Similarly, the joint looks like it has occupied the modest white cinder block building on a still-rural stretch of Highway 54 for many years.  Of course, it hasn’t, as The Deli Box occupied the spot just a few years ago.  Still, it’s impossible to deny that the look of the building and location are perfect for a barbecue joint–close enough to RTP to pack in the customers but rural enough to look the part of a 50-year old BBQ joint.

Careful What You Promise
On their website, Smokey’s says it is “the best North Carolina ‘Q’ in Raleigh.”  That is a dubious claim for a couple of Continue reading

BBQ Jew’s View: Dillard’s Bar-B-Q

3921 Fayetteville Street, Durham, NC
919.544.1587
Website
Hours: Uh, I forgot to write ‘em down, I’ll find out soon…
BBQ Jew’s Grade: C
Porky Says: “Man shall not dine on pork alone (at least not here).”

Man Does Not Live by Bread Alone
While most barbecue joints use their marquee signs to boast or advertise weekly specials, the sign outside of Dillard’s has read “Deuteronomy 8:3″ for as long as I can remember.  Indeed, man cannot live on bread alone. Sometimes he craves pork. 

Dillard’s has been providing Durham residents and visitors with much more than bread since 1952, when its late founder Sam Dillard first started selling barbecue.  Mr. Dillard was a devout Christian, so the Deuteronomy 8:3 reference is not some tongue-in-cheek statement that a younger pitmaster might put on a sign to lure in the hipsters.  At Dillard’s the sign is sincere and heartfelt.  Unfortunately, while the fellowship at Dillard’s remains intact the quality of their cooking has suffered over the years.

Soul Food Aplenty
Dillard’s offers a large buffet of “southern style soul food,” as the restaurant’s website puts it.  (I have yet to experience northern style soul food, and hope to maintain this spotless record but I digress… .)  The buffet is served cafeteria style by friendly staff, some of them direct descendants of Sam Continue reading

BBQ Jew’s View: Whole Foods BBQ Bar

81 South Elliott Road, Chapel Hill, NC
919.968.1983
Website
Hours: Sun-Sat 7:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
BBQ Jew’s Grade: C-
Porky Says: “Whole Foods serves BBQ?!”

There’s a Whole Fool Born Every Minute
I hope you are seated as you read this next sentence.  Whole Foods serves its own, house-cooked barbecue.  And I actually worked up the nerve to try it. 

I know, I know, eating barbecue at Whole Foods seems about as wise as a barbecue joint offering tofu on its menu.  But I am an intrepid soul when it comes to barbecue and I’ll do nearly anything for the sake of a blog post.  Plus, Whole Foods is based in Austin, Texas, which even this Carolina boy admits is pretty serious barbecue country.


No Foolin’
It pains me to admit this, but the NC-style pork barbecue at Whole Foods was not bad.  Not real good and certainly not great but okay, adequate, passable, just fine, thank you.  I was expecting a gussied up dish that bore little resemblance to real NC BBQ but the pork was rough chopped to a nice consistency, moist despite being on a steam table, and served with a simple Eastern-style vinegar and spices sauce.  The pork even contained some outside brown meat, firmer and more flavorful than the rest.  Most importantly, the barbecue contained no unwanted additions: no chunks of organic kumquat fruit, no sauce made with locally-raised fig compote, and no free-range kale juice used as seasoning. 

Whole lotta pork.

Now don’t get me wrong, there are relatively few barbecue joints I’d pass up in favor of Whole Foods, but if you find yourself (as I did) needing a quick NC BBQ fix you could do worse.  (As an aside, I had the beef brisket too and it was awful.)  If you find yourself in that weak position, do what I do and recite the following prayer for strength:

“Yea, though I walk through the parking lot in the shadow of Whole Foods, I will fear no tofu: for thou art with me; thy pork and thy sauce they comfort me.  Thou preparest a Cafe table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my tongue with vinegar; my iced tea cup runneth over.  Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the church of ‘cue forever.”

BBQ Jew’s View: Byrd’s Barbecue

2816 Cheek Road, Durham, NC
919.530.1839
No Website
Hours: Mon-Fri 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
BBQ Jew’s Grade: C
Porky Says: “Noah’s Temple didn’t make me a believer.”

“Worth Your Time to Find”
I’m embarassed to admit that I first heard of Byrd’s Barbecue fewer than 6 months ago.  Byrd’s–with the motto “Worth Your Time to Find” etched onto its rooftop sign–is located in Durham within 20 minutes of my house.  And it was founded over 50 years ago.  (According to a recent News & Observer article, Noah and Michelle Temple bought Byrd’s in 2005.  Noah used to work at Danny’s Bar-B-Que in Cary, which we’ve yet to visit but have poked fun at.)  How could I have not know about Byrd’s sooner?  And was it worth my time to find after all these years living in the dark? 

I still can’t figure out the answer to the first question, but maybe it has something to do with the answer to the second one: No.  Although it is a decent enough place, Byrd’s is nothing special.  It’s one of hundreds–or thousands–of mediocre barbecue joints in NC that long ago took the cheaper, easier path and stopped cooking over wood, in the process sacrificing quality, flavor and tradition.

Looks Like the Real Deal,
If you choose to ignore the propane tank that looms behind the building (which, of course, you should not), Byrd’s has the look of a gem of a BBQ joint.  Located just outside the city limits, it occupies a rural setting that is appropriate to good ‘cue.  The modest wood frame building looks the part too.  And the parking lot welcomed a steady stream of Continue reading

BBQ Jew’s View: Prissy Polly’s

729 Highway 66 South, Kernersville, NC
336.993.5045
Website
Hours: Mon-Sat 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
BBQ Jew’s Grade: C+
Porky Says: “Polly has an identity crisis.”

 
 
 
 

Prissy Polly's: The view from my table

Pollyanna
With a great name like Prissy Polly’s, which made it into my barbecue joint name hall of fame, it’s tempting to be Pollyannaish about the quality of the barbecue.  The fact that the restaurant is named after the founder’s mother makes it even better.  But despite the great name, Polly’s suffers from an identity crisis.  And, leaving the name aside, the food they serve is just okay.

Trying to Do Too Much
Instead of focusing on preparing one style of barbecue well, which is a difficult enough task, Polly’s tries to serve both Eastern- and Lexington-style ‘cue and does neither especially well.  According to their own website:

“Originally Prissy Polly’s served only Eastern-style barbecue.  This caused a bit of consternation among some of the local folks, who were accustomed to Lexington-style barbecue. To please the taste of those who preferred Lexington-style, Prissy Polly’s began to offer both styles of barbecue.”

I have to give Polly’s a lot of credit for being bold enough to start an Eastern-style BBQ joint in the heart of Lexington-style territory.  And the Eastern-style ‘cue they serve is definitely the better of the types.  I can’t really blame Polly’s for caving to local preferences either.  Judging by the fact that they have stayed in business for 18 years and have a sparkling, large restaurant, adding Lexington-style ‘cue to the menu was the right decision. I simply don’t think their Lexington-style ‘cue is particularly good.

One, Two, Three Types of ‘Cue
Since Polly’s started out serving Eastern-style barbecue, let’s focus on that first.  The biggest problem with Polly’s Eastern-style ‘cue is that it is not cooked over wood and the lack of care shows in a lack of flavor.  Sadly, Polly has plenty of company in both the east and the west in terms of not using wood, but that doesn’t excuse them.  Leaving that aside, Polly’s Eastern-style BBQ is moist and has decent flavor, which is enhanced by a slightly too salty but quite good vinegar/pepper sauce that accompanies it, though it appears to be machine chopped and is a bit mushy.  I’d probably give their Eastern-style ‘cue a B- if I were grading it alone.  Polly’s Lexington-style barbecue fares worse.

Polly’s actually offers two types of Lexington-style ‘cue.  (Pay close attention, this gets a bit confusing.)  Polly’s original Lexington-style BBQ is called “Original Lexington,” and they have served it for years.  It features a rather thick, sweet dip that has as much in common with KC Masterpiece or Kraft as it does with traditional NC style sauces.  Recently Polly’s added another Lexington-style dip option, this one called “Traditional Lexington.”  The dip used for the newer traditional version is significantly better than the original recipe, as it is much thinner and more vinegar-based, though it is still too sweet for my palate.  The Lexington-style ‘cue was too heavily sauced in the kitchen and needed no added dip at the table.

First course: Eastern-style

Second course: Lexington-style

Continue reading

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 723 other followers