Friday, 18 July 2014

Allen & Son Bar-B-Que

Allen & Son Bar-B-Que
Allen & Son Bar-B-Que
We have finally crossed the BBQ divide to the Eastern-North-Carolina style barbecue. And that divide means two things:

1. Whole hog BBQ. The full hog is cooked over a pit and all the meat is chopped together to blend the flavors of the different cuts of the pork. This gives a much more robust flavor, which is at times lacking in the West, as evidenced by what appeared to be the complete removal of the outer crust at Gary’s BBQ.

2. The complete removal of any tomato-based products from any of the sauces. Vinegar and pepper reign supreme out east. And when it comes to whole hog barbeque, Allen & Son Bar-B-Que is the real deal. Some say the best in the state. They certainly are very highly rated and given the lunch I had, there is no question why. The building and interior look like someone’s uncle’s fishing cabin, and the uncle died 45 years ago and no one bothered much to update the place. This truly was a BBQ shack.

Inside were barely standing tables as well as a fee church banquet tables and school gymnasium metal folding chairs. Heck, they even had a Friday fish special (fried flounder plate), which wifey gladly ordered.

The girls at the table next to me (yes, this is where ladies lunch around here) both had the BBQ plate as opposed to the BBQ sandwich I had been ordering. The plates come in a thick Dixie paper plate with three sections: pork, slaw, and hush puppies. I ordered a bun on the side (40 cents extra) as to make my own sandwich.

Allen & Son Bar-B-Que BBQ plate
Chopped pork, hush puppies and slaw
The pork here was clearly different in flavor than what I had out west. Richer, fattier, more smoke flavor, larger cuts of meat and some skin. Not as smoky as I would have preferred but it is now clear to me that North Cackalakans don’t like too much smoke. Regardless, this was an excellent example of a whole hog. My friend Barry Campbell told me later that night that I might not find a better specimen other than at The Skylight Inn, which we have removed from the list as it was too far out east to drive to. As we have a eight hours drive tomorrow, we are trying to stay a bit closer to our current base (Raleigh).

We asked to speak with the pit master but he'd gone for the day. This was at 2pm so not sure what hours this guy keeps but clearly the pit was not running as an active pit. We do know that Allen and Son use only hickory and from what I can tell, nothing more than

The vinegar sauce at Allen & Son was very nice but a bit thinner in taste than what we had at Gary’s BBQ, which we absolutely loved. The slaw was a very nice mayo based slaw but slightly watery. I added a bit of vinegar sauce for a kick. But it all really came together in the sandwich — what an amazing combination of flavors: pork, salt, hickory, vinegar, chili pepper, crisp cabbage and a simple, sweet bun.

The skins on fries were as they should be — flavorful and dark brown. A bit soggy but nice. Wifey and I were not a fan of the hush puppies as we found them a bit too sweet. Lexington is still the champ here.

We are starting to find the Easterners a bit grumpier than their brothers and sisters out west. Guessing that NC is no different than the nation as a whole. Our waitress, Cindy did eventually warm to my Minnesota charm but it took a while.

Allen & Son is the real deal and it is clear why they have the reputation they do. Not to say that Gary’s or Lexington BBQ was inferior — they were not. I simply preferred the more aggressive pork and smoke flavour and that as what won me over.

Thumbs down for a slightly grumpy staff and a pit master who works half days.

NOTE: There are two Allen & Son branches. This branch, the much smaller of the two, uses only hickory over a pit. The larger branch cooks over (gasp) gas and I have been told on numerous occasions to avoid.

Allen & Son Bar-B-Que
5650 U.S. 15, Pittsboro, NC 27312
Phone:(919) 542-2294
Hours: 11:00am – 8:00pm

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