Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Review: Mike & Jeff's BBQ, Greenville, SC

A few weeks back I posted the Thrillists 11 Best BBQ Cities In America which had Greenville, SC ranked 9th. We have a couple of good places, but I still don't know if I'd say we're the 9th best BBQ city in the world. I'd think Scott's BBQ by itself should have Hemingway, SC on the list all by itself.

Anyway, one of the joints on the list was Mike & Jeff's BBQ. I'd had their catered food before at my old job, but had actually never stopped in for a bite to eat. Now, if you plan to visit, you might want to make sure you have your concealed weapon with you, because that side of town can get a little rough.

I went with the basic pork sandwich plate with baked beans and fries.

Just as I remembered, this is a good old fashion BBQ joint. The pork was delicious and filled with smoke flavor and smell, and the beans were delicious. The fries were ... fries. Like traditional BBQ is, they're all about the sauce. The pork is relative plan, seasoning wise, but once you add their sauces, it's a whole other story.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Birthday Trip To Nashville: Part II

When we came to Nashville for the first time back in 2010 for the Garth Brooks Nashville Flood Relief concert, we tried to have breakfast at Loveless Cafe. By the time we got there, there was a very long wait so we decided to go somewhere else. This trip, we pulled up behind a few other cars and were "those people". I pulled in the parking lot and stopped so she could hop out and put our name in. Told you, the total D-bag cut in line move. I park the car and walk in, look around the waiting area and one of the workers says, "I believe she went that way" and pointed towards the back. I turn the corner and find a hand full of available seats and my wife at a table. Apparently we didn't have to be D-bags after all, whoops.

Here is a picture of some of the most delicious biscuits I've ever had in my life. Along with, some of the best "grape" jam I've ever had in my life. They bring our the basket of biscuits with 3 types of jam. I dig my knife down in what I believe to be grape, and Dawn says, "Um, that's blackberry." I quickly put that down and grab the correct container of "grape" jam. I refuse to admit how many biscuits we actually ate. We both finish our containers and she says, "That's some of the best blackberry jam I've ever had." To which I replied, "Yeah, this grape is absolutely delicious." She gives me this confused look, picks up the container and says, "That's not grape. That's strawberry." Uummm, whoops. Either way, IT WAS DELICOUS!!!!!

So the wifey got their sausage, eggs, and hashbrown casserole. She absolutely loved the sausage, but the eggs were unseasoned and the hashbrown casserole was a whole lot of mayo/sour cream and a little bit of potatoes.

I got the country ham, eggs, grits, and a side of bacon. The country ham was absolutely delicious. The bacon was good, it wasn't the crispiest, but was still good ... I mean, it's bacon, it can't be bad. The eggs and grits weren't seasoned, at all, none, nada, not a drop of anything. This is one of the biggest issues I have with popular touristy places. (prepare for rant) As a restaurant, you became famous because of your delicious food. That food is delicious because of your techniques and flavoring/seasoning. Just because you have more people coming to your restaurant doesn't mean  you have to all of a sudden make everything plain (yes, I understand the irony that I of all people would be complaining about that). Take grits for example. If I was from the North and this was the first time I had ever eaten grits, I would want to know what the heck all of the Southerns had been smoking. These weren't worse than the grits on Carnival Fantasy cruise ship, but they were pretty bad. If you don't cook grits with salt, there's no amount you can add afterwards to get them where they need to be. All I'm asking, is for restaurants to make the food the way that it's supposed to be made. If you want to make a small batch for the weirdos that want cornmeal water, then do that. But don't send out flavorless, bland mush to your customers ... and definitely don't do that and then charge what Loveless (and every other tourist trap) does.

All gripes aside, their biscuits are worth the trip alone, and if that wasn't worth it, they have a killer smoke house. I didn't try any of their BBQ, but dang did it smell good.

If you can't read the clock, it's always BBQ time.

I just realized, it looks like the rooster on my shirt (Go Gamecocks) is raring back to punch her in the face.

After we splurged on biscuits and country ham, we went right down the street to the Belle Meade Plantation. It literally is on the same street, which proves how great of a planner that I am.

One of, if not the greatest thoroughbred horses in American history. Our guide counted the champions that are in his blood line which included Triple Crown winners Seabiscuit, Secretariat, and even American Pharoah. He said that when horses were being bred for $500 each, Enquirer's romps in the hay (see what I did there?) were priced at $2,500 a pop.

If you remember the Jack Daniel's tour, in the charcoal room the light over the large pile of coal. Well, here you have the angles singing down on top of the smokehouse ... aaahhhhhhh.

The large barn has been turned into a buggy barn. After years of restoration, some of these truly are beautiful.

This was one of my favorites, not just because it's garnet and black, but look at the paint job on the spokes. In the display below, that's how they actually painted them then.

Now, I said I wasn't going to have hot chicken before the EC concert, but the other restaurants I had on the list were too far of a drive, so we drove on over to Hattie B's.

I'll be honest, we both went with the medium spice on the chicken. Again, I didn't want to set myself a blaze before we had to stand there for 6 hours. The medium was absolutely perfect. Think Chick-Fil-A spicy chicken sandwich heat. It was around that. Just enough to get your nose opened up a little.

Just to sum it up, Hattie B's has gotten a lot of TV air time lately, but there's a reason for that. The chicken was AMAZING, and the sides were just as good. I'm not even going to talk about them, there's no need, just go to Hattie B's, that's all.

For dinner we were in a rush. She got us pit tickets, so we had to get there early to get close to the stage. The drove over to another BBQ Pitmaster legend's, Peg Leg Porker. I'm not a Tennessean, but I love with people are able to take an image and twist it make it their own.

Standing in the blazing sun, I didn't think to grab my phone to take a picture of the sandwich. Well, that and the sandwiches didn't really last long enough to take a picture of. This was one of the best pulled pork sandwiches I've had in a long time. Honestly, I wish I had gotten two.

After 4 hours standing in the blazing Tennessee heat, it's show time.

It's our last day in Nashville, but little did we know that we accidentally left all of the bests for last. As we drove up to the Pancake Pantry and I saw the line out the door and halfway down the sidewalk, I turned and said, "ok, find somewhere else to eat." We went back and forth, I gave in and turned around, scoffing the whole time about how long we were going to be standing there to eat some pancakes.

The wait ended up being 30 minutes or so. It really wasn't that bad. The temperature inside is about 30 below 0, so I think that's their trick to get people in and out. Just know that if you go, take a coat.

The wifey got their sweet potato waffle, and said to make sure that I "point out its deliciousness." Apparently, it was pretty good.

I was debating between the chocolate chip pancakes and the banana nut pancakes. The waitress walks up and I'm about to order the chocolate chip, and then I see on the menu that the chocolate chips are added to the top of the pancakes and not actually mixed into the batter. When they're added to the top, it just turns into a glob of chocolate and that's just not what I want for breakfast. I made a quick flip to the banana nut pancakes, and I'm SO glad I did. These pancakes made me forget the wait, the subzero temperatures, and every other pancake I've had previously in my life. 

After some shopping downtown on Broadway we made our way over to Gabby's Burgers and Fries. We saw Gabby's on Michael Simon's new show Burgers, Brew & BBQ. In the episode he made his own burger with one beef patty and one vegi patty, so from that second Dawn was craving a veggi burger. 

I think she said it was good. I wasn't really paying her any attention (She did really like it. Something like, the best vegi burger she's ever had), because I had this masterpiece.

Because we apparently hadn't eaten enough, after lunch we went to Las Paletas for a gourmet popsicle.

They even have a walk up window if you have your dog with you.

She really enjoyed her blueberry lemon that she had, and my chocolate with coconut was good too.

After that, we need to walk some of that food off, so we went to the Nashville Zoo.
(insert sounds of mumbles and grumbles of "why are we here?", "Its hot", "I'm tired of walking" ...)

The meerkat is doing the Rhett pose.

In the middle of the Zoo is a house to tour. The family that owned the house were big animal lovers. When they sold the house, the contract read that the land could never been used for anything other than animal preservation. The daughters that made the contract were so smart, there's no end date on that ruling, so since someone purchased that original contract, no matter how many hands it goes through ... the contract's demands will stand firm. Nashville recently moved to this location since the original zoo was struggling at it's location, and they had this massive land dedicated to animals that was paid for and they couldn't do anything else with. It's a really interesting story if you ever make it, you should definitely step in for the quick little tour. 

Wait, even the kangaroos are doing Rhett's sleeping pose.

The "Kangaroo Kickabout" is pretty cool. You can actually go into the area with them and pet them if they come up to you.

This one area had multiple animals roaming freely throughout.

What's in the barbed wire fence behind the zebra you wonder? Oh, it's just 2 tigers pacing side to side as the zebras strolled up and down the fence line. I'm pretty sure a caption box could be placed above their heads and it'd say, "mmmm, lunch."

This has to be the most peaceful looking nap ever.

One of the funniest things I've seen in a long time. We come up on the lions, and there's a family with a kid around 5 years old. He's whining and fussing because he's not getting his way, and apparently we weren't the only ones that thought so. We looked up and this one was staring him down with a "either you shut him up, or I'll give him something to whine about" look.

While the one wanted lunch, the other lion decided it was just exhausting and decided to leave and go lay down in his room.

Martin's BBQ Joint is kind of off by itself. You wouldn't know that with cars parked on both sides of the street as far as the eyes could see. Yet again, we're standing in line for a good while having to listen to the people in front of us discussion how many people have died or are in jail from their high school graduation class.

She was craving some some brisket, and couldn't decide between the brisket or the loaded baked potato. As she's looking over the menu for the 50th time she realizes that she can add the brisket to the baked potato ... dilemma averted.

Her potato came out, but it only had the brisket. No bacon, no cheese, no butter. We stopped one of the food runners and let him know. He vanishes for a few minutes and returns with a fresh ... completely loaded potato. As he lays he does he says, "I'm sorry, I kind of made it like I make them for myself."

Upon inspection, she realizes he made the new one with pulled pork instead of brisket like she ordered. So instead of this turning into a problem, she did what any full blooded BBQ loving American would do ... she combined it all together. That creation led to what she considers one of her Top 5 Most Delicious Meals EVER. Even went as far to say that its "right up there with S.N.O.B.."

Surprise, surprise, I did the combo plate. Hey, we said we're splurging on food, so I took full advantage of it. I did the pulled pork and dry ribs combo with green beans and mac'n'cheese.

I've grown over the past few years, but I'm still not a fan of big chunks of onions. The green beans were soaking with them, but luckily I was able to eat around them and enjoy their really good green beans. The mac'n'cheese was very good too. Nothing fancy, just real good mac'n'cheese. You could clearly see the smoke ring and get that smoke smell on the pulled pork. It was very good on its own, but a little addition of their sauce and I couldn't stop eating it.

Now, the ribs. I'm not a fan of dry ribs. I don't cover mine with 10lbs of sauce, but I had Rendezvous' dry ribs when we went to Memphis, and I just wasn't thrilled. I ordered the dry ribs just to try them out, but got a cup of sauce on the side to add on top. Well, no need. These ribs are easily the best dry ribs I've ever had, and make a very solid push at the best ribs ever. I didn't care how I got out of the restaurant. I wasn't going to stop eating until I clean my plate (minus a green bean or two and some onions).

As if we weren't miserable enough, Dawn wanted dessert. She actually just wanted to go to Goozy Dessert Bar, because it had a funny name.

They had a s'mores dessert on the menu, do I even need to say what she got?

I was told that I had to include the "ooey gooey" picture.

We went back and forth on dessert. I was craving this cookie from the time I saw it, but I knew she wanted the s'mores. She said, "It's ok, we can just share the cookie." I explained how we agreed that we were splurging on food since we weren't really buying anything else, and that it was our last food items on the trip. So, I won, and I got my own 6" caste iron chocolate chip cookie with chocolate syrup.

So my eyes were a LOT bigger than my stomach (I mean I did just put down an entire combo plate at Martin's by myself). It was a little pricey (adult beverages didn't help the cost), but both desserts were absolutely amazing.

Loveless Cafe

Hattie B's

Peg Leg Porkers

Pancake Pantry

Gabby's Burgers and Fries

Las Paletas

Martin's BBQ Joint


After doing the rankings I realized, our last day in Nashville's breakfast, lunch, and dinner all received 5 piggies. I can say that has NEVER happened before, even before the blog/reviews.