GA Pig, Brunswick, GA

GA Pig, Brunswick, GA

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Carolina Barbecue Revisited

We stopped over at Carolina BBQ for lunch yesterday on our way home...skipped breakfast, in fact, just so we could have one final hurrah at one of our favorite restaurants.  We profiled Carolina BBQ way back when we started this blog, and it's in our Top 10. Now we remember why, and we even added some reasons to love this place.

We both had the rib and chicken combo this time around, which comes with 2 sides plus their enormous hush puppies.  I've never seen any this big, and they're good too, although Duke's still gets top billing there.  Doug got the greens and beans, and I got the fried okra and beans. We love their baked beans...just sweet enough and tasting of, well, beans.  Doug says the greens are very good, and I liked the fried okra, but will probably try something else next time, as they have lots of sides to choose from. This was our first time trying the ribs, and these are maybe the meatiest, porkiest tasting ribs around. They don't have alot of smoke flavor, but they're super tender, just how we like them, and they arrive at the table covered in that sauce we raved about on our first visit, what they call their mild sauce. Add a little of the spicy vinegar sauce to the mix and you've really got something good. The chicken is just as good as we remembered it being, so even if you don't eat pork, go and try the chicken. It's very tender and juicy, with a little of that mild sauce covering the skin...delicious. Now usually this would be enough food for us, but we didn't finish the hush puppies just so we could try their fruit cobblers for dessert, which they specialize in, according to the menu. Doug had the peach and I tried the blackberry, and we both went for the vanilla ice cream kicker, because, why not, right? The only downside to trying the cobbler is that now, every time we go to Carolina Barbecue...and we will be back...we'll have to order it. It was THAT good. They were offering cherry and strawberry cobbler that day too, so next time, maybe I'll get the strawberry. The only difficulty is in limiting yourself to just one.

Carolina Barbecue
213 Salisbury Rd
Statesville, NC

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Smok'n Pig

      The Smok'n Pig here in Valdosta, Georgia claims that it's the Top 10 in the country, so we had to give it a try and see if they live up to their boast. We had dinner there tonight, and thought we'd tell you about it while it's still fresh in our minds.  In spite of the name, Smok'n Pig does more than barbecue, and is a full service restaurant with a salad bar and lots of items to choose from.  We stuck with barbecue, 'cause that's what we do, but they also have steak and seafood on the menu.

    I went with the pulled pork sandwich and salad bar, and Doug had the baby back ribs with collard greens and corn on the cob.  They offer 6 different sauces at Smok'n Pig, and have them on the table for you to try any or all. That's always the first thing we do when we sit down...sample the sauces. We both agreed that the original was the best of the lot, and we were split on the other choices; I liked the sweet and Doug liked the sweet and spicy. The mustard sauce just tastes like mustard, and the other ones are just not great. One thing about the sauces we did not like, and that was the use of high fructose corn syrup in all but one. When you don't eat that stuff, you learn what it tastes like, and we could detect the flavor of it, which we don't enjoy.   There were a host of other ingredients in the sauces such as soybean oil that just do not belong in a real Dixie barbecue sauce.

     The salad bar is good, and very much appreciated. After a couple of weeks on the road and many barbecue stops along the way I start to crave some greens. The pulled pork was very good, some of the best I've had, in fact. They smoke over pecan wood here, and it lends a lovely, subtle smoke flavor to the meat. The ribs were interesting, with a nice hint of paprika in the rub. They were tender and the meat fell off the bone, no knife required.  Doug says they're best with the original sauce. The collard greens were excellent...just slightly sweet with bits if ham in them. The ribs came with both toast and corn bread; thumbs up on those. Dessert comes with your order, and they make a good peach cobbler with pecans that you can help yourself to at a little dessert station complete with soft serve vanilla ice cream. When we return we'll try the St. Louis ribs and the chicken, but so far we think the food here is very good and we highly recommend you come for a visit.
GA Pig

just off I-95

Brunswick, GA

We’ve been going to the Georgia Pig for years, and love it still. This place looks like a barbecue restaurant ought to…it’s a tin roofed shack with a big woodpile out back and feral cats slinking around. The color on the walls inside used to be pepto bismol pink, but they changed it to bright yellow last year. The owner has a fun collection of Elvis ephemera on the walls, and that’s about it. One whole wall is taken up by the brick pit and counter where you go to order your food. They used to have a sign up that said “no cameras inside”, and they’ve changed that to say “It’s rude to take photos of people without asking them first,” or something to that effect. I guess a lot of folks were stopping by and snapping pictures of the pit master. After you order and pay, grab your iced tea from the self serve table and take a seat at one of the picnic tables.

We usually get the combo of 2 choices, although Doug has been known to go for the 3 meat combo when he’s really hungry. Their ribs are ok,  but the brisket, pulled pork and home-made sausage are better.  The sausage is very tender and juicy with lots of smoke flavor.  The ribs are a bit chewy and most often come out to the window warm at best, this is the riskiest choice of the meats. Sometimes they are great and other times I really wouldn't recommend them.  Try the pulled pork and the sausage. 

This is very rich, succulent barbecue, with alot of the fat left on the ribs and chopped pork shoulder, and a thick, tomato based sauce. They only do one sauce at The Pig, and whatever meat you order will come with some extra on top. I like their beans and slaw, although they’re not the best we’ve had, they’ll do. You’ll leave with the smell of smoke clinging to your hands, hair and clothing. It’s a beautiful thing.  Although this restaurant is no longer on our Top 10 list, The Pig is an experience you should have at least once if you love barbecue.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Log Cabin in LaBelle, FL

     Recently Doug and I traveled from the east coast of Florida to the west coast along Route 80 and discovered this little gem along the way, Skitch and Sara's Log Cabin. The Log Cabin looks very promising from the's cute, smoke is visible rising up from the back of the building, and there are many cars in the parking lot.  The menu has much more than barbecue on it and looks more like full restaurant menu, with fish, meatloaf, pork chops and a complete list of appetizers on it; however, barbecue clearly rules here. 
     We sat down and Doug ordered ribs, and I had the rib and chicken combo, both with beans and slaw.  We both finished with that Southern staple, banana pudding.
  The ribs here are not among our favorites, and we are getting really good at nailing down what constitutes great ribs and what makes for just good or ok ribs.  These are smoked perfectly and very meaty, so thumbs up there, but they weren't as succulent as some we've had, and a little tough and dry.  I do appreciate the fact that they don't drown their ribs in sauce...they arrive at the table dry and you sauce them yourself.  The dry rub they use was subtle so it took us a few bites before we realized that it was mostly chile powder, and that got a bit old as we worked our way through them.  So, a C+ for the ribs.  The chicken was good, but, again, a little dry, and I only order dark meat, so there's no real excuse for that.  They offer 2 sauces at the table, a sweet one and a spicy/vinegary one, and these were both very good, as were the baked beans and slaw. The banana pudding is the fake banana flavored cream with nilla waffers. A proper pudding has pastry cream with bananas folded in topped with whipped cream. Everything else pales. This one is too sweet as well.  We think The Log Cabin is above average for barbecue, but just.  If I lived in LaBelle, I'd go there and try the pulled pork, and maybe even skip the barbecue altogether and order some fish. They're certainly busy and have a loyal local following, and we're always glad to see places like this doing well.