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Parker’s Barbecue – A Whole New BBQ

parkersplatter

When in NC, you have to try the local bbq. The last time I was in NC, it was Winston-Salem, and it was really different from what I ended up having in Greenville. We stopped by a local favorite, Parker’s Barbecue. The place was pretty big, and the parking lot was filled up. It’s a no-nonsense place, you just order and wait and then pick up your food. When you order bbq here, you don’t get to choose what kind. There’s no choice. There’s only one kind of bbq they sell here. It’s whole hog, slow roasted every day and infused with their signature sauce. It’s hand chopped, and basically shredded. It’s really quite different than any other bbq I’ve ever had in my life. That’s what I love about bbq, the geographic differences. Here, it’s just a very light vinegar based sauce, which makes it super mild. And there was also some crushed red pepper in there, along with something else mysterious. Not sure what it was, but it may have been crumbs of corn bread or crumbs of some kind of batter… honestly I have no idea. It was so different, unlike any other bbq I’ve ever had before, and so tasty!

So, um, this was a small platter. Yes, I said small. You get a heaping of meat and 3 sides. And the sides are also heaping. And the hush puppies just come with every platter. Man, their portion sizes are nuts. All of the sides were good, especially the mac & cheese and the slaw. The slaw was especially vinegary and zesty. I loved it. The mac & cheese is like what my mom would make, if she was a lovely southern mom instead of a little korean lady. The hush puppies here are shaped like that, instead of the round balls I’m used to seeing.

parkersmenu

One thing that was really interesting was that there were livers and gizzards on the menu. And what a menu it was… look how old school it is! It’s adorable. But what was more interesting than livers and gizzards was that they were also on the kid’s menu! What kid wants to eat livers and gizzards?
Parkers Barbecue Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Percy Street Barbecue

Y’all know I’m not known for going to brand new restaurants right away. I like others to experience them early on while they’re still working out the kinks, so I can enjoy them later, once they’ve got their act together. But in an effort to enjoy a nice Christopher Columbus outing, we dared visit Percy Street Barbecue during their first week of business. I was intrigued by this place due to the central texas style bbq that they promise. I went to grad school in Austin, so I ate my fair share of bbq while I was there. I don’t claim to be an expert on bbq, or let alone food, but I do have plenty of experience in this field. And the bbq options in philly aren’t all that great. There certainly aren’t texas style bbq places around here. So I was hooked. Plus, I had watched this video of their trip to bbq mecca and I was optimistic that they would really be able to pull this off.
The space is pretty gorgeous and big. The menu is simple, and you can even see it written on these giant chalkboards by the kitchen. But this is a nice restaurant. Unlike the genuine bbq joints in texas, you won’t see brown paper strewn across tables. But you will get rolls of paper towels to use as napkins. So it’s a mix of modern design aesthetic and down home grubbing. Bottles of water in vinegar bottles are set on each table and you can even get 1/2 gallons or gallons of beer. These come in big brown glass jugs. It’s a lot of beer people, a lot. Please be warned. Meats are sold by the 1/2 lb and sides come small or large. The waitress recommended that for each person, 1/2 lb of meat and two small sides should suffice. We got large mashed potatoes, large german potato salad, two large mac and cheeses, small green beans, and small collard greens. Ok, so the number one gripe with this place is the paltry portions of the side dishes. Mac and cheese only comes in large, and this large is perhaps an elf’s definition of large. These are way too small, and the mac and cheese is way too good to be served this small. Please, this needs to be fixed.

The mashed potatoes seemed whipped, but were not completely smooth, so you know it was made from genuine potatoes. I liked them. The large portion was a genuine large portion. The potato salad was good too, but the large wasn’t quite large. The green beans were good, and the small portion seemed right. The collard greens were ok, and like the green beans, its small portion sizing seemed spot on. The collard greens could have been cooked down more and probably should be cut up into smaller pieces. It was a bit hard to maneuver the big hunks of green.Ok, onto the meats! We got everything but the sausage. Everything comes out in a tray and is served with white bread, pickles, and sliced raw onion. The accompaniments are pure central texas through and through, so I was impressed. There were 10 people in our party. We got 8 slices of bread. I’m pretty good at math but that simply does not add up. Are we supposed to cut this bread into pieces and share? Each person should get at least two pieces of bread(or more) on their own. This is how it should be done. There should be no sharing of bread. It’s white bread. I think you guys can swing it!

The ribs were ok. As you can see they are pretty big, but ribs are ribs. These are not baby back ribs where the meat falls of the bone. These require work, and it was just a bit too much work for me. But they tasted fine. Now the pork belly on the other hand, the pork belly was AMAZING. Yes, so amazing that I capitalized it all. This pork belly was some of the best bbq I’ve ever had in my life, but also some of the best food I’ve ever had in my life. No joke. I could eat this day and night, despite what my arteries may have to say about it. This is the best thing on the menu here. Heed my word. Forget everything else, it’s all about the pork belly here!

The brisket was ok. There are three options – moist, lean, and extra lean. We opted for the lean, but even the lean had a bit thick hunk of fat on top. The brisket was good, but it was too charred on the outside. The char is definitely not adding to the flavor. My favorite bbq in general is brisket (or at least it was until I had the pork belly here!) and whenever I’ve had it in texas, it never had char on the outside. It’s supposed to have a nice red ring around the edges due to the smoke, but there should be no char.

Everyone was disappointed with the chicken. R wanted the chicken to taste like oven roasted chicken or rotisserie chicken. She also felt the chicken was dry. No one else thought the chicken was dry. In fact, we found it quite moist and juicy, but it was bland. It was so, so, so boring and bland. It had absolutely no flavor at all. We told the manager none of us liked the chicken and he was shocked. He said the chicken was his favorite thing on the menu. Egads. If plain, flavorless, bland chicken is your thing, then go for the chicken here. If not, then avoid it at all costs. But if you do get it, be sure to bring some kind of sauce for it.

One other issue is the bbq sauce they have here. They only have one kind, and I assume they make it in-house, but it’s spicy. I like spice in pretty much everything, so I was fine with it. But for those that don’t like spice or can’t handle spice, be warned. This stuff has kick. And you don’t really get an option to have bbq without kick.

No one wanted any dessert, except for R. She wanted the chocolate layer cake. Man, was this thing disappointing. We thought the chicken couldn’t be topped, but this sure beat it. This cake was dry, dry like the freakin Sahara, and it tasted like yellow cake mix from the grocery store. And not even Duncan Hines or Betty Crocker, I’m thinking generic no-frills yellow cake mix. We passed this around and after everyone took a bite, everyone had to drink. Cakes should be moist. What a cake fail! But we did end the evening on a high note. We didn’t order the pecan pie, but it showed up. I think it helped that we spent a whole crapload of money in their first week in business and that we gave them some honest constructive feedback. This pie was awesome! It wasn’t freakishly sweet like some pecan pies I’ve had before, this was just sweet enough. I wholeheartedly recommend this pie.

So the service needs some work. The amount of time it took for our drinks to come out was not really acceptable. We were just sitting there wondering where our drinks were, for a very long time. This desperately needs to be improved. But the food came out pretty quick, so we were impressed with that. And the servers are nice and friendly. So basically, there were definitely hits and misses with the food here. The pork belly and the brisket are hits, as are the sides, and the pecan pie, but the portions of the sides, the chicken, and the chocolate layer cake are severe misses. But would I eat here again? Hell yeah, as I’ve been dreaming about the pork belly ever since!
Percy Street Barbecue on Urbanspoon

rumjungle Meat Fest

For our last dinner, our CEO came down and took us to rumjungle. It is a restaurant and club. It is rather outrageously decorate. Strange, yet cool. It is a rodizio type place, so if you choose to do so, you can do the whole all-you-can-eat meat thing. We all ended up doing that. When in Rome! In addition to the meats, you get a “peruvian” chopped salad. Our CEO happens to have grown up in Peru, and he confirmed that there was nothing peruvian about this salad. Ha. But it was good nonetheless. Black beans, pineapple-coconut rice, and corn on the cob. All of these things were delicious. I love me some corn on the cob, and I was stuffing myself silly with these. The “gaucho platter” which has various cold salads and cold cuts and cheeses. Good, but what was annoying about this was that they didn’t leave it at the table. This chick comes around and you have to tell her what you want. So not exactly all-you-can-eat. And then the meat started coming around, including sirloin, turkey breast, pork and pineapple, bacon wrapped jerk chicken, chorizo, lamb, and tri-tip. All the meat was quite good, but my favorite by far, was the bacon wrapped jerk chicken. I’m not sure what they put on it (it says bacon wrapped jerk-spiced chicken with guava-chipotle bbq sauce) but it was like crack to me. I could have eaten this all night. They also have some fancy and strong cocktails, and some desserts. I was too stuffed from all the meat to eat dessert, but M ordered the doughnuts, which were unbelievable. They were like heavenly donut holes, freshly made, light, fluffy, and addictive. Service was ok. They try really hard but are perhaps a bit too overeager. The ambiance is a little too much too. For the price, it’s actually not that bad. You get a lot more choices at fogo de chao, but that’s also more expensive. I actually thought this was a pretty good value for the quality of food. And if you hang out after you eat, you can shake your moneymaker!
Rumjungle on Urbanspoon

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