It appears that Bart’s Old North State Barbecue, which started as a catering company and then a food truck, has found a bricks and mortar location. This one opened up right under my nose without me realizing, so thanks to alert reader Will for tipping me off to it. I’ve had these folks’ barbecue from the truck and it is quite good, so expect it’s worth a visit. I’ll be trying it myself soon.
For those of you still living in the past–as past when Hillsborough Hog Day took place in late June–remember that the event moved to May as of last year… and will be held THIS weekend. The festivities kick off Friday night in suddenly almost-hip historic downtown Hillsborough, and the main shindig is on Saturday. Visit the website for details: http://hillsboroughchamber.com/hog-day/. Sure, the food is a bunch of mediocre, primarily gas-cooked swine, but it’s damn fun anyway so check it out. And don’t feel too bad if you pass on the BBQ sandwiches in favor of a giant turkey leg, gyro or other carnival food staple… or if you want some real, wood-cooked BBQ then make a short side trip to the Hillsborough BBQ Company just a few blocks west of the festival.
One of Chapel Hill’s best loved restaurants is turning 30. Crook’s Corner has long offered barbecue as an afterthought on its menu of southern staples (shrimp and grits) and innovative originals (Cheese Pork!, anyone?). Although Crook’s has been hailed as “Sacred ground for Southern foodies” by the New York Times, their barbecue has never been anything particularly special–not even cooked on site, but rather “imported” from Bullock’s in Durham and marked up in price significantly. However, Crook’s is an excellent restaurant and they are celebrating their 30th with a barbecue bash tonight.
With the mainstreaming of barbecue across the country, it’s inevitable that the formerly humble food will finds it way onto menus at a increasingly varied range of establishments. A case in point is Chapel Hill’s landmark gourmet food shop, A Southern Season, which recently made the following announcement about the newest addition to their delicatessen menu:
“Authentic, North Carolina Pulled Pork BBQ
We are bringing you some of North Carolina’s finest—Pig Pickin’ style Pulled Pork with a tangy Eastern North Carolina-style vinegar sauce. Made exclusively with pork Boston Butts.
The Classic NC BBQ Sandwich
Stop by today for a classic BBQ sandwich $4.99 each.”
If you’ve never been to A Southern Season, you should know that I like the place. You should also know that A Southern Season is famous for its chocolates, ornate gift baskets, wine selection, gourmet deli and cheese shop, and various overpriced snacks and knicknacks. It is, at its essence, a gourmet southern food store for northerners. The inclusion of a BBQ sandwich on A Southern Season’s deli menu is akin to McDonald’s deciding to offer an artisanal cheese plate. Could it be good? Possibly. Does it make sense? Certainly not.
Is bourgie ‘cue something that should concern barbecue traditionalists? A level-headed observer might say no. I say hell yes. Although I’ve yet to sample the barbecue sandwich at A Southern Season, I have no problem deeming it, sight unseen, as yuppicue of the highest order and warning my loyal readers to steer clear. Well, unless you happen to be shopping for Belgian chocolate cordials and get a hankering for chopped pork… I couldn’t fault you for that.
For those of you in striking distance of Chapel Hill, there’s a good event for a good cause this Saturday, as described by Mr. Page Skelton of Cackalacky, Inc.
“Our mighty Cackalacky cookout crew will be teaming up with our “zest friends” from A Southern Season and Fullsteam Brewery for an awesome tailgate party/sampling event this Saturday, October 29th! Plus, we will also be accepting non-perishable food donations at the gathering on behalf of the nice folks from PORCH, too! (People Offering Relief for Chapel Hill and Carrboro Homes, or, “PORCH” for short.)
So, please come by the tailgate party for some tasty tunes, brews, and eats – and help support a great local cause! (And, please don’t forget to bring a few canned or boxed food items with you.)
What: Cackalacky-Fullsteam Tailgate Party
Where: A Southern Season, 201 S. Estes Drive, Chapel Hill, NC 27514
When: Saturday, October 29th 11 – 3PM
Why: Why not? (Seriously) Well, that AND to have a great time while we raise food donations for a great cause!
Thanks & zestiest regards,
On Friday I visited Allen & Son’s in Chapel Hill for the first time in months (the location north of town on Highway 86, not the unrelated and inferior Allen’s south of town). As usual, not much had changed since my last visit: great food, friendly service, and prices slowly creeping toward $11 for a large plate yet somehow still worth it. And then my jaw dropped. As I perused the menu to decide whether to get a BBQ plate or sandwich I saw it, the first major change to the menu I can recall besides pricing. A barbecue tray!
This may not sound like big news to you, but Allen’s has never before–in the 25-plus years I’ve been visiting–offered a tray. It has always had a sandwich and a plate but never a tray. But there it was, a recent addition to the carved in stone menu sitting in front of me.
At many BBQ joints that offer a tray, “plate” means BBQ, slaw, hush puppies and fries and “tray” excludes fries. Trays also tend to offer slightly smaller portions than plates, a nice feature for folks like me who often eat at more than one joint when visiting unchartered barbecue territory. At Allen’s the regular plate does not include fries (though there is a fries added option), so the difference between the plate and tray appears to be quantity. As you can see in the picture above, the tray offers plenty of food for a modest appettite, and is a couple of bucks less than a plate. Next time I visit I’ll bring my postal scale and do a more scientific comparison between the two options…
One of my favorite barbecue joints, the history-rich A&M Grill in Mebane, has apparently gone out of business. That is the word on Chowhound and the source cited there appears legitimate. If true, very sad news.