Sunday, January 21, 2018

Memphis Jax BBQ- Ponte Vedra, FL

I usually like to give new places at least a few weeks to get up and running before I visit, but since this one is 5 minutes from the house, I figured I would brave the crowds and the opening weekend excitement. This is sort of a preliminary review- I'm sure I will update it as I make future visits and try more of the menu.

Orders are placed at the counter, where if you are dining in they give you a number to place on your table. As all the tables were full, I took a seat at the small bar where I got a good view of the bustling serving line. They were slammed for the second day in a row, and close to running out of meat again as they did the day before.

For this visit I stuck with my basic bbq lunch- pulled pork, baked beans and potato salad. Their platters come with either a dinner roll or jalapeño cornbread, (I chose cornbread, because jalapeño) and topped it off with a sweet tea.

The pork was right on- hot, smoky and barky. Although it was a decent sized portion, it looked small on the metal tray they serve their food on and almost made you wonder if it was actually a $15 lunch, which is what it came to with a drink. The pork redeemed itself though, and I especially liked their full-flavored original sauce with it. The hot sauce was pretty good too, but I felt like the mustard sauce, which is usually my favorite with pork, was an afterthought that needed more flavor than just mustard.

My sides were just average. No complaints on the potato salad, but it didn't stand out either. The beans seemed straight out of a can with maybe a couple specks of meat sprinkled in. The tea was average as well.

Service was friendly, if slow, which is understandable with how busy they were. I waited over 30 minutes for my food, but it was fine on a Saturday afternoon and didn't bother me. To be constructively critical, my opinion is they are trying to offer too many choices. Besides all the typical meats and more, they also offer pizza, catfish and other non-barbecue items, as well as a long list of sides. This leads to extended prep time in getting food out. It might have been better to start with a smaller menu and add items as they have the chance. I would hate to see their good barbecue get lost in the clutter of everything else, which happens a lot.

Time will tell- I can only hope a barbecue joint this close to home will stay in business and stay consistent. I will be back to try more items and update my review- hopefully upward.


Memphis Jax BBQ- Ponte Vedra, FL

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The Pedalin' Pig BBQ- Banner Elk,NC

A family holiday vacation brought me to the high country of NC. When this happens, I usually am able to incorporate one or two new bbq stops into the trip. It so happened that this time I was feeling a little like I had some extra time, with a week off work so here I am writing about the experience for the first time in years.

Several people recommended the Pedalin' Pig to us, and on a rainy Christmas Eve lunchtime  without much else to do, we found ourselves in the parking lot just off Highway 105. We braved a few seconds of chilly drizzle then entered the warm interior. It featured the typical wood and antique sign decor, with a bit of local feel provided by hiking maps and even a large mountain landscape mural hanging on the walls.

Our party of 9 was promptly seated and given menus to study, along with a plate of hush puppies (which were forgettable). The menu included the standard Carolina barbecue fare, but also some less common items such as thick sliced brisket and pork belly tacos. The waitress told us that their sweet tea and most of the sides were homemade. Becky and I chose to split the 3-meat sampler which comes with pulled pork, baby back ribs and brisket. (Side note: we got the sampler for 1; they also have a 3 meat sampler for two, but as you can see the 1 person sampler comes with a ton of food. We weren't especially hungry, but even between the two of us we didn't quite finish it.)

Our sides were potato salad and fried okra, along with an additional side of mac and cheese for the little guy. Portions of everything were mountain man-sized. The sides were respectable, and the tea perfectly cold and sweet, but the meats were a bit of a let down. The pulled, or more like coarsely chopped, pork was by far the best of the three. It had enough bits of bark to give it good flavor, and the "Piedmont" sauce provided on the table did it justice. The baby back ribs were tender enough, but lacking smoke flavor. Same story with the brisket; it could just as well have been slow roasted in an oven. It wasn't tough at all, which is a plus, but it did include substantial chunks of fat. It would have been interesting to try a couple of the other 5-6 sauces listed on their menu, but none were offered and our waitress didn't return in time for a request to be made.

It was a pleasant spot for a vacation lunch. I appreciate the effort put into the homemade sides, but they need to up the smoking game a bit to be ranked as good all around barbecue.


Pedalin' Pig Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Old Clinton Bar-B-Q- Gray,GA

Old Clinton Bar-B-Q has been on my radar for a while. Problem was, it's in the tiny town of Gray,Ga- not near any route I regularly travel. But after a weekend trip to Lake Sinclair, we were passing through around lunch time on the way back to Florida. Problem solved.

Even if you weren't looking for it, it would be hard to miss the low-slung building with it's dirt floored porch and vintage advertising, including the proclamation "Best in Georgia".

The interior has similarly been left un-updated for the most part, and feels like a 50 year step back in time.

Chopped pork with a thin vinegar and pepper sauce is what they are known for here, although they also offer ribs, turkey and chicken. Their classic plate includes the barbecue, brunswick stew, bread and a pickle, plus slaw or potato salad if you want to add it on.

We ordered several of these, and someone got ribs too, so I got to sample both.

The pork was a nice mix of different textures of well cooked meat- well cooked in that it was moist and flavorful, though the smoke wasn't too prevalent. It was perhaps overshadowed by the vinegar in the sauce. I could also detect a bit of a reheated taste. Still, it was every bit as good as any of this style of barbecue that I have had. Piled on a slice of fresh white bread, it made a barbecue sandwich that would be hard to beat.

The ribs were properly smoked and perfectly done, though they didn't have much in the way of seasoning. Old  Clinton's version of Brunswick Stew is a little on the thin side. It was good, but lacked anything that set it apart for me. Our sides of slaw and potato salad followed suit in that they were a good complement to the meal but didn't stand out on their own.

I enjoyed the experience of eating here as much or more than the food itself. It's definitely a must visit for anyone interested in the history of Georgia barbecue. I can't agree that it's the best in Georgia though. In my limited forays into the Peach State I have already been fortunate enough to eat at a few places that give them some stiff competition for that title, but having said that, they are definitely close to the top of the list.

Wall art at Old Clinton

Old Clinton Barbecue House on Urbanspoon