News and Observer restaurant reviewer Greg Cox visits Byrd’s BBQ in Durham.
News and Observer restaurant reviewer Greg Cox visits Byrd’s BBQ in Durham.
In this week’s notes from Quail Ridge Book Store, Sarah mentions a book on Alice Waters:
ALICE WATERS AND CHEZ PANISSE by Thomas McNamee (Penguin $16). I bought this for my daughter, who loves cooking and anything French and dipped into it for a little taste of my own first. Hours later I emerged, fascinated, hungry and completely dissatisfied with the supper I had planned. Thomas McNamee delivers an engrossing account of Waters’ journey from 60’s student at UC Berkeley flirting with radical politics to serious gourmet Francophile to current international activist on behalf of sustainable agriculture and superb local cooking. It’s equally a biography of the famous restaurant she founded, the often eccentric cast of characters involved with it, and all their trials and triumphs.
I would recommend a copy of the movie Food Fight to folks interested in Alice Waters’ story.
The folks at Quail Ridge also noted DG Martin has an encore interview with John Shelton Reed and Dale Volberg Reed about their great book on “barbeculture,” HOLY SMOKE. Its on NC BOOKWATCH, SUNDAY, 5:00 PM, on WUNC-TV.
I went with Chip and Drew to the Q Shack at North Hills Mall for BBQ recently.
The Q Shack is near the North Hills movie theatre, across from Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. I’ve been frequently for lunch, but haven’t made it there for dinner.
On this visit, I ordered the Hickory smoked pork shoulder plate with two sides: cole slaw and black eyed peas. This is $7.99.
The BBQ is pulled off in chunks, served in a bowl of its juices. The BBQ is tasty, but overly moist to my preference. The cole slaw is excellent. It is a little heavy on the onion. The black eyed peas are good, flavored with onion as well.
The Q Shack is a locally owned and operated restaurant that serves farm fresh foods from local farmers whenever possible. The restaurant uses organic produce when available and 100% trans-fat free oil in all of cooking and frying.
The Carolina pork shoulder is slow cooked overnight (10+ hours) using a blend of hickory and mesquite woods. Every morning, the pit masters load up fresh, local chickens, turkeys, pork ribs and sausage to provide fresh, hot, tender barbecue all day long.
The restaurant works with local farmers and suppliers to assure that only the highest quality cuts are delivered. For pork products, the restaurant works closely with local and regional hog farmers who raise their animals without the use of hormones and provide the highest quality meats, fresh off the farm. Organically grown vegetables and farm fresh produce are used whenever possible.
In the Triangle, the Q Shack has locations at North Hills in Raleigh and on East Main Street in Carrboro
I was saddened to receive a call from my brother that our aunt, Eulalia Cantley passed away on Wednesday. She was my father’s oldest sister and was part of the team that made the best BBQ I’ve ever eaten.
She was married to Maxie Cantley and with other members of the Cantley family ran Cantley’s Bar-B-Q restaurant of Nesmith, SC. I mentioned the restaurant in one of my first postings:
My uncle Maxie Cantley cooked the best pork I’ve ever eaten, pulling tender chunks of pork off and serving it with rice drenched with clear, hot spiced, red gravy from drippings, cole slaw, sweet potato souffle, a slice of bread and my aunt Eukie’s chocolate layer cake. The pork was spiced hot, so you needed lots of sweet, ice tea. Their restaurant was near Nesmith, SC.
The BBQ was similar to NC eastern style in the use of vinegar and pepper, but it was pulled off in chunks of meat and not chopped. The rice and sweet potato are part of the tradition for that part of SC. The closest to this style you will find is Browns BBQ, 809 N Williamsburg County Highway in Kingstree, SC.
I later found a recipe for one of Eukie’s cakes and made that available.
One of my favorite memories was asking her about my grandmother, a church pianist. As a girl, my grandmother had wanted to learn to play the piano. The family didn’t have enough money to buy a piano. She took lessons playing on a church piano and returned home to practice on a board on which her father had painted a keyboard. I loved the way my aunt told that story. She told it as evidence of the quiet determination of her mother.
Aunt Eukie was a kind and loving woman. She will be missed.
I visited on a Saturday night with my wife and our friends Julia and Barry. For months, I had been trying to talk my wife into visiting the Pit and different things got in the way. My wife went in for a business meal and really enjoyed the ribs. That paved the way for our visit.
We hadn’t made reservations and when I checked Open Tables that morning, they were booked out. I called and they suggested that walks in are fit in as space becomes available.
We arrived around 5:30 and walked in to find a line. They offered a table in the bar, or a 30 minute wait. Our group opted for the bar.
Our server provided us a beer menu. Each of us picked something different. I had the Mother Earth IPA from Kinston; my wife tried the Shotgun Betty from Raleigh; Julia tried the French Broad from Asheville; Barry had the He’brew Messiah from San Francisco. Barry knew a little more about microbrews and described some differences as we each sampled the beers.
For the meal, I ordered the pulled pork and everyone else ordered the ribs.
The pulled pork plate is smoked and pulled form the bone, lightly seasoned with pepper vinegar. I had black eyed peas and cole slaw as sides. It was a large serving of BBQ. The meat had that good wood-smoked taste. There was little flavor from sauce, which you could add. They offered a pepper-vinegar sauce and sweet-tomato sauce. I sampled both and mainly used the pepper vinegar. It was delicious with the big chunks of well cooked tender BBQ. The pulled pork plate was $11.99.
Everyone else ordered the half rack of Baby Back Ribs. My wife had the sweet potato fries and seasoned vegetables. She loved it, but the portion was so large that she only ate about half. The half rack of Baby Back Ribs was $13.99.
To celebrate our first visit, the four of us split a serving of banana pudding. There was a large bowl with the usual pudding, bananas and wafers topped with an inch thick of marshmallow fluff and whipped cream sprinkled with sugar. Overly sweet, but quickly eaten.
We had a great meal. Valerie was our server and was very attentive.
I extracted a promise from my wife that we would be able to visit the Pit again and maybe sit in the dining room the next time.
The restaurant is located not far from the train station and just down from the new Raleigh Convention Center. The restaurant is at 328 W. Davie Street. The phone number is 919-890-4500.
We recently made a trip to Greenville so my son could check out East Carolina University. After touring Pirate land, we had developed an appetite.
I had hoped to visit B’s BBQ in Greenville or Jack Cobb’s in Farmville, as touted on the NC BBQ Trail. But folks were hungry and Parkers popped up on the navigation system. We were just minutes away from one of the two Greenville locations.
We went to 2020 Greenville Blvd location with the big parking lot and large dining room. They had a family dinner in a meeting room that must have been serving 20-30 people and there were lots of folks spread across the dining room.
We sat down and a server came to the table quickly. We got corn sticks, hushpuppies and drinks in short order.
I ordered the large BBQ dinner that comes with cole slaw and choice of two vegetables. I picked boiled potatoes and Brunswick Stew. My wife had a combination plate with BBQ and fried chicken. My son went with the fried chicken.
I had eaten at the original Parkers in Wilson and the food here was similar. The BBQ was eastern style, slow roasted over wood, sauced and then chopped. There was a large quantity and it tasted good. The boiled potatoes and Brunswick Stew were quiet good. The slaw is cabbage with a taste of vinegar.
My wife preferred the chicken to the BBQ. My son liked his fried chicken.
My large BBQ dinner was $7 plus a drink. My wife’s small combination was $6.89. My son’s 2 piece chicken dinner was $6.59. They also offer family style buffett dinners with BBQ, BBQ chicken and fried chicken and a range of sides fo $9.39 per person, and a seafood platter with fish, shrimp and oysters for $11.99.
I thought the BBQ was OK, the sides were very good and we received very attentive service.
My word of warning about Parkers is that they only take cash. They won’t take your plastic. I didn’t notice til I went to the register to pay. I would have thought a restaurant of that size would accept credit cards, but they do not.
If you are in the check out line at the grocery, and you see those biscuits on the cover of the magazine, you’ve just got to pick it up. The biscuits decorate the front cover of the Our State magazine and their November 2009 “Our Favorite Foods” edition.
Turn to page 70 and you’ll see the layout for Grady’s BBQ. My friend Sue says if you like Carolina BBQ, Grady’s is the best:
Grady’s barbecue near Dudley is located near my parents’ home and is the best ‘cue I’ve ever had, produced by a wonderful family. The banana pudding, collards, and other offerings are also fabulous. It’s out of the way, but worth the trip.
The magazine says Grady’s:
(pronounced Graddy’s) is on US 117 south of Goldsboro. Owners Stephen and Gerrie Grady and their family also do a delicious job with country vegetables like cabbage and black eyed peas, and you’ll especially love Gerrie Grady’s welcoming smile.
Grady’s BBQ – BBQ Jew