OUT OF BUSINESS AS OF JULY 2011!
401 E. Center St., Mebane, NC
BBQ Jew’s Grade: A-
Porky Says: “Damn fine swine, well worth your time.”
It’s the Barbecue, Stupid.
I love the A&M Grill, but it’s definitely not for the faint of heart (then again, neither is reading online reviews of barbecue joints so you can probably handle it). The outside is unassuming at best and the interior is not what I’d describe as warm and cozy. But who cares? The barbecue is what matters, and the A&M delivers great ‘cue.
The Reeds hit the nail on the head when we asked them what they look for in a barbecue joint and they told us: “Barbecue… The meat’s what matters, at least as far as I’m concerned. I don’t give a damn about the décor or the ‘ambience.'” They’re right: if the swine is fine, let’s dine! And if you can’t cook the swine, I ain’t got the time.
Hard Work Pays Off
In my humble opinion, the A&M serves some damn fine swine. The pork shoulders are wood-cooked the old fashioned way and the A&M’s efforts pay off in the form of succulent, tender, hickory-kissed pork that has plenty of outside brown. The Lexington style dip is thicker than I tend to prefer, with more ketchup than needed, but it has a full, tangy flavor and is not too sweet (it’s certainly nothing like the weird vinegar-syrup they call dip a few miles down the road at the otherwise excellent Hursey’s).
Now, I’ve made it clear that I’d visit the A&M for the pork alone, but there are other draws too. First of all, they have very good, lightly sweet and fluffy hush puppies. (They are served in a basket with a store-bought dinner roll and huge serving of butter, neither of which I would recommend, and which lend themselves to food waste). The A&M slaw is unique just plain odd, but now that I have eaten it a few times I find it quite enjoyable. The slaw’s dressing has much more ketchup in it than most, and it is a cross between a creamy Eastern style slaw and a Lexington barbecue slaw. It is on the sweet side but has some definite vinegar kick. It’s not my favorite slaw but at least it’s interesting, and it complements the ‘cue nicely, which is the point. I’ve also eaten A&M’s green beans, fried okra and baked sweet potato and have not been disappointed yet. Plus, you can order a whole plate with ‘cue, puppies and
two sides for $4.95 when it is on dinner special (every Monday night, for instance). This is one of the best barbecue deals in the state on a quantity and quality scale. And you know, we BBQ Jews don’t take a good deal lightly. The only downside of the generous servings is that I have yet to be hungry for dessert.