Monday, Mike and I tried a BBQ place just down the road from his house called Stalvey's bbq. His parents really like this place.
I ordered the pulled pork, the ribs, and the brisket. In this image you cannot see the brisket, but its there. The sides were beans and cheese grits.
Let's start with the Q. I couldn't sense real smoke from anything except the slightest hint from the ribs. They had no rub or anything on them. They were typical Florida ribs. They were a little greasy, but they were the best thing on the menu. The pulled pork had no smoke and were pretty tasteless. The brisket was chopped up like pork, which to me is heresy. You slice brisket. People from Texas would be offended.
The beans were OK, but tasted like they were pretty much out of the can, and just cooked in the oven. The cheese grits were the worst. It was regular grits and they took bagged, shredded cheddar and just threw it on top. It wasn't even melted. The garlic toast wasn't even that great.
I know some of you think I am harsh on BBQ places, but let me assure you I am a lightweight when it comes to judging. You need to check out this web site:
He pulls absolutely NO punches. He has three kinds of Q:
1. Eating Q
2. Sandwich grade - second rate and better than throwing away
3. Inlaw/Dog grade - not worth eating.
Much of the Q he analyzes in TX bareley makes sandwich grade. I can totally relate to this. There is so much Q out there, but the problem is much of it is bad. The people out there with BBQ places need to wake up and stop being so lazy. I am convinced a lot of them think that they can just throw a hunk of meat on a grill and call it BBQ. People like me who really like BBQ are on a quest for those places who are as meticulous about their Q as a high class French resturant in New York by an Iron Chef. We expect the best ingredients and cuts of meat, natural ingredients (not packed with MSG and all that crap), and we expect attention to detail when it comes to cooking. This means a thought out process on the type of wood, how long to smoke, how the meat is treated after initial cooking. Its not just about the week. We want sauces that compliment the meat, not hide its problems. We expect side items that are the best we've ever had from grandma. In order to get this quality of food, we are willing to sacrifice cleanliness and the place being in a safe part of town. We willing to sacrifice however much $$$ to get the taste we deserve.
So back to my original thought - I taste a lot of Q. I am on a Quest and I expect nothing less than the best from every place. Because of this I am disappointed quite a bit. While something can be said for judging a place from one day and one specific order of meat, I still think on their worst day, the best BBQ places are obvious.
Well, I have a few more places to try before Sunday when Mike and I hit the road to Charlotte for another BBQ run to NC. We are on a trip to get some training for work. I'm mapping out all the places along I-95 to try this week. We will meet up with James Pulley, who promises me some good places. As a native of the area, my expectations for his taste buds to know premium q are high. We'll see.