Sunday, January 06, 2013
For a long time, my opinion of the Smok'n Pig has been the most asked about of any restaurant in the area. Despite it having a lot of buzz, some of it generated by their billboard claim to be one of the top 10 in the country, I hadn't found an opportunity to make the 45 minute drive up to Valdosta until recently. One Saturday night my wife and I caught a ride with some good friends to check it out. It's a large place, open and airy on the inside with a high tin roof capping the rustic looking walls.
The menu includes an array of appetizers and a salad bar, which is a little unusual for the typical bbq joint. Our table ordered onion rings and fried pickles. Both came out quick, hot and in heaping quantities, and were a good start to our meal.
I wanted to sample as many meats as I could. Since we'd already over indulged in food of the battered and fried variety, my wife and I opted to share a 3-meat sampler including pork, ribs and brisket. We added on sides of mashed potatoes and (yes more fried) okra.
The consensus of our table was that the brisket was the best of the meats, and I agreed. It was moist and well smoked, although not cooked quite enough to let the fat lend it's extra flavor to the meat.
While some in our party enjoyed the ribs, I found them to mediocre. Without applying large amounts of one of their many sauces, they had an unfresh, dark flavor which often comes from reheating old ribs. I compared it to dog food, which of course resulted in jokes about when I had last tried it.
Fortunately most of the sauces added a distinct flavor to cover this. All were pretty good, but there were too many options to figure which was best. They were even more necessary for the "pulled pork" which had a similarly old flavor and was chopped into bits that had dried out and had little flavor on their own.
While I did enjoy my meal here, it was more due to having a fun evening with good company than the food. The appetizers, cold sweet tea and sauce selection were excellent, but I can't give them a pass for the neglected meats. I suspect this isn't a problem for most highway travelers or casual visitors brought in by the promise of some high rated barbecue. With a salad bar, appetizers and too many side options to mention, apparently that is who they are catering to, not those who simply appreciate genuine barbecue. Their slogan says "Good Times...Good Friends...Good Food", but on this night I only had the first two.
FOOD RATING: 3 OF 5
OVERALL RATING: 3.5 OF 5