Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Iron Pig BBQ & Stew (Jefferson, GA)

121 Epps Street
Jefferson, GA 30549

Iron Pig BBQ & Stew

Just as we were leaving Cabin Creek BBQ and on our way to our next BBQ destination, something caught our eyes driving through Jefferson, GA. It was a huge locomotive smoker that was part of some type of BBQ complex. I immediately pulled a u-turn to take a closer look. When we parked in the gravel lot, I noticed the enclosed cinder block pit smokehouse in addition to the gargantuan steam engine smoker. We had arrived at Iron Pig BBQ & Stew. I'd heard the name before, but only as a competition BBQ team. Over the loud speakers you could hear the funeral of legendary UGA Bulldog announcer, Larry Munson. This was like some kind of BBQ oasis. There were a couple of picnic tables available, but most of the locals were there for the take-out. After taking a closer look at both of the smokers, we excitedly stepped up to the Christmas light adorned shack and placed our order.

The menu items here are few including ribs, pulled pork, and chicken. I love ribs and had good luck at Cabin Creek so we ordered half of a rack and some pork sliders. We quickly found out that Iron Pig sells out of their ribs by lunchtime every day so we were out of luck. We went with the only other two meats left, the pulled pork and chicken half. The staff here was extremely courteous and let us know that if we call ahead of time we can always reserve some of their pork ribs.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Cabin Creek BBQ Co. (Nicholson, GA)

199 Memorial Drive
Nicholson, GA 30565

Cabin Creek BBQ Co on Urbanspoon

We made a little day trip recently to Cabin Creek BBQ Company in Nicholson, GA. If you don't know where Nicholson, GA is, that's ok...neither did we. It's in the middle of nowhere just north of Athens (which is also in the middle of nowhere). If you make this day trip, make sure it's on a Friday or Saturday because otherwise you'll leave empty handed. Cabin Creek opens its doors Friday and Saturday only.

When I pulled up, I parked right outside their screened in smokehouse. There were a couple Ole Hickory smokers inside from the best I could tell. There was also a stick burner in the back that wasn't getting any use at the moment. The dining room was less than half full. I counted fifteen people, most glued to the silent TV which was playing some insignificant Division 2 college football game. Jamie and I placed our order of St. Louis style spare ribs, brisket, pulled pork, coleslaw, mac 'n cheese, baked beans, and Brunswick stew.

We tried both the mild and hot BBQ sauces while we waited for our meal. Both were sweet and tangy with flavors of ketchup, vinegar, and cayenne pepper. I'd consider it "Memphis Style" if you needed to put a label on it. There wasn't a strong difference between the mild and hot sauce that we could tell. We waited about five minutes before our BBQ platter showed up. Initially, the food looked fantastic.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Upcoming GBH Stops...

Here's a list of some of the stops we've got our eyes set on in the near future:

Old Clinton's Barbecue House (Gray, GA)
Two Brothers Bar-B-Que (Ball Ground, GA)
Rick's Smokin' Pig Bar-B-Que (Gainesville, GA)
Fresh Air Barbecue (Bogart, GA)
Rolling Bones BBQ (Atlanta, GA)
Hambones BBQ (Hapeville, GA)
Briar Patch BBQ (Hiram, GA)
Big D's BBQ (Cumming, GA)
Ms. Betty's House of Ribs (Atlanta, GA)
Rib Ranch (Marietta, GA)
J.R.'s Loghouse (Norcross, GA)

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Smok'n Pig (Valdosta, GA)

4228 North Valdosta Road
Valdosta, GA 31602

Smok'n Pig B-B-Q on Urbanspoon

If you've ever headed down I-75 to Florida, then you've probably seen the signs for Smok'n Pig in Valdosta. Not far off the exit, it's becoming somewhat of a tourist attraction and a popular BBQ stop in southern Georgia. I was recently traveling on business and made the stop to this BBQ destination that I've passed so many times before.

The interior reminds me a little bit of an overgrown Sonny's BBQ. Maybe it has something to do with the salad bar, but that was my initial thought when walking in. The hundreds of colorful neon spring break inspired t-shirts inside let everyone know that you were there first (think Salty Dog Cafe, Pineapple Willy's, Fudpuckers). I didn't buy one, but maybe next time. I sat down to a surprising myriad of different BBQ sauces. I counted six just at my booth and there could have been others at different tables. If you've got a sauce preference, then Smok'n Pig's got you covered. I went through them one by one with the hot, sweet, Carolina vinegar, original, mustard, and sweet and spicy. I was pretty impressed with all of them while no one stood out more than the other.  

I ordered my meal from one of the many young local female waitresses that seem to be everywhere here. Chopped pork, brisket, spare ribs, baked beans, and mac 'n cheese would do just fine on this day. And yes, it also came with the salad bar. I'm not sure where full salad bars fit into BBQ yet, but I'm leaning towards it being unnecessary. 

Friday, December 2, 2011

Country's Barbecue (Columbus, GA)

6298 Veterans Parkway
Columbus, GA 31909

Country's Barbecue on Urbanspoon

In my first visit to Columbus, GA I decided to stop at Country's BBQ on Veterans Parkway. The original location opened up in the 70's not far down the road off of Mercury Drive. There are multiple locations now earning them the title as one of the most popular (never to be confused with the best) BBQ stops in Columbus. When I first walked in, you definitely get the feeling that this is a chain restaurant. It's well decorated, has a large area for seating, and is pretty clean. None of these things are bad things by any means. Columbus locals might disagree and say that there are a handful of better spots for good BBQ if you're visiting for the first time. It won't be my last visit to this city, and I plan on trying them all (yes Steven Hartsock, even Chicken Comer).

Country's offers a couple different sauces here. The easiest way to describe them is that the lighter the sauce, the hotter. The lightest sauce is a spicy mustard sauce that tastes a lot just like yellow mustard with some extra cayenne pepper. The darkest sauce is sweet and tangy sauce with some light ketchup and vinegar flavors. They also have a medium sauce which is basically just a mixture of the two. I preferred the middle sauce this time, but that's just me.

For my meal I ordered the spare ribs, chopped pork, brisket, BBQ coleslaw, and baked beans. I will say this about Country's...they do use smoke on their meats. The bad news was that there wasn't a whole lot of flavor besides that. In my chopped pork the big pieces of bark tasted more like bad burnt pieces of meat than a nice slow cooked crust. It reminded me a lot of Williamson Brothers in Marietta. My guess is that they cook this meat a little faster and hotter in order to get this kind of crust on it. Cooking your BBQ "low and slow" will hardly ever give you that burnt pork chop taste on your bark, especially if it's seasoned well. The brisket was really dry and didn't have any real flavor profile besides the burnt tasting bark. The pork was actually pretty moist, but like the brisket had more of a grilled taste than smoked. Keep in mind, I'm someone who loves the bark on pulled pork and brisket burnt ends. I wasn't too impressed with the ribs either. They were pretty flavorless and unappealing. The BBQ coleslaw is watery, vinegary, but has a little kick at the end. The baked beans are extremely sweet and have a heavy ketchup aftertaste.

I don't think I'll be trying the other Country's locations. I feel like it would be a good family spot though with their various menu items. After all, I have heard great things about their chicken fingers and salads...