Thursday, December 30, 2010

Bar-b-Que Wagon, Bryson City, NC

Bar-b-Que Wagon, Bryson City, NC. By far most of my posts come from barbecue joints in the Peach State of Georgia. Snow had fallen earlier in the week throughout North Georgia and the mountains of North Carolina, so on this end of the year excursion through the Smoky Mountains, I was in search of good BBQ from the Tar heel state. Let me go ahead and say that Debbie and I were not disappointed. I had "googled" several joints around Murphy, Bryson City, and Dillsboro, so we would let the timing of the day and our location at that time stack up against the reviews we had read to determine which joint we'd hit today. Since we were heading east from Murphy over toward Cherokee (yes, to check out Harrah's) we decided on the Bar-b-Que Wagon in Bryson City.

First of all, this place isn't going to win any awards for five star service. It is located on the banks of the beautiful Tuckasegee River with even a couple of dining tables located where you can overlook the river. On this beautiful, snow covered winter's day, the little joint was even more picturesque. This is a "place your order at the counter and then have a seat" kind of joint, so don't expect to be waited on hand and foot, but the counter waitresses are true down to earth salt of the earth people. Appearance wise you can't help but but notice the wooden walls, ceilings, and floors as well as all of the "Elvis" memorabilia on the walls. It has charm and character that ranks up there with any of the joints we've hit.

We picked up bottles of each of the 5 sauces available and had a great time tasting each and trying to figure out which we'd like best. The 6 sauces they have available include: Vinegar, Hot and Spicey, Sweet, Honey, Gold, and Hot. Deb liked the Gold best which was really a semi-sweet honey mustard sauce. My favorite was the "Hot and Spicy".

You have to give the Wagon extra points for portion sized. I ordered a small sandwich which was more than adequate. Deb ordered a side of slaw and I ordered the Brunswick stew. The sides of stew and slaw were three times the sizes you get in many places including my previous day's stop at Georgia Bob's in Macon, GA. The stew actually was among the best I'd had in months though it's appearance didn't get the highest ranking. It's taste was superb with visible ingredients including butter beans, corn, and small cubes of potatoes. What we didn't try were the hush puppies which have received acclaim from several other reviewers.

The barbecue was finely chopped which typically doesn't suit my highest preference, but overall, this was some very good barbecue. It had good color, was clean, and wow, did I mention the portion size was more than adequate. Deb and I were both pushing the Wagon up into the higher ranking levels as we were halfway into the visit.

The Bar-b-Que Wagon get's at least a 4 out of 5 on our rating scale. I haven't any idea when or if I'll ever return to Bryson City, but if I do, the Wagon will be my dining preference! The menu at this joint offers many additional options that need to be reviewed including their ribs and hush puppies, so I guess that in the coming months we'll have to head north into the Smokies for another round with what I will rate as "some of North Carolina's best Q."

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Georgia Bob's BBQ, Macon

Georgia Bob's BBQ with locations in Warner Robins, Byron, and Macon.

Mid-twentieth century journalist Jonathan Daniels said it best….”Barbecue is the dish which binds together the taste of both the people of the big house and the poorest occupants of the back end of the broken-down barn" To barbecue is to truly “Cook American”!

A few of my friends and readers have been asking if I had every tried Georgia Bob's BBQ. I had tried Bob's original location in Warner Robins several years ago right after he progressed from a part time cooker at a convenience store to an inside dining room on the side of the store. I've kept up somewhat with Georgia Bob's as I've followed BBQ joints in Georgia, but I'd not been back to any of the locations until today. I had noticed that Bob had opened up a joint right across the road from the new North Macon Mall on North Riverside Drive. I'd asked my son who works within a couple of miles about it, and for whatever reason, he'd been there and wasn't impressed with the BBQ, but he'd later reported that he'd been back and had a cheeseburger that was good enough to rank in the "Scotts BBQ Cheeseburger Comparison" category....and for Jed Evans, that is up there. Interestingly, in 2007, held a barbecue voting contest over several weeks to try to identify the "Best of the Best" among middle Georgia barbecue joints. Some of the notables such as Fincher's, Fresh Air, Georgia Bob's, and Scott's were among the finalists with Scott's and Bob's making it to the final two joints. Bob's won out to the chagrin of the fans of the Cochran based Scott's fans. The point in going here, though, is that the Macon area has some of the best bbq joints imaginable within a 50 mile radius where you can get good barbecue on a budget.

A little bit of history about Georgia Bob's perhaps is in order. Georgia Bob's history dates back to at least the 1920's. Bob's grandfather, Robert Cherry Evans, apparently could fix up some pretty fine bbq. Following in his grandfather's tradition, Bob struck out on this entrepreneurial adventure several years ago. As indicated earlier, Bob started out about as small as you can get smoking bbq on the side of a Warner Robins convenience store to now having three locations.

I was thrilled today to be joining up with son Jed, his co-worker Brandon Ashley, and my long-time friend and former co-worker Jonathan Fordham who was meeting up the the Farm Bureau crowd in Macon. Jon was boning up on a national competition being held the next weekend after taking the state title in the Policy Discussions competition put on recently at Farm Bureau's state convention. I arrived early so this gave me a little time to "size the joint up". While I waited, I observed several good signs for a bbq joint. Patrons dressed in everything from service uniforms to business suits and everywhere in between were making their path to Georgia Bob's. Now it wasn't a big stand in your line crowd, but folks in North Macon have apparently found the joint and you can tell they are coming back for more.

I placed my order of a barbecue sandwich and Brunswick stew and the others got either barbecue or cheeseburgers. We found our table at the little quaint joint that is well decorated for a strip mall joint. While waiting for the food I checked out the 3 sauces available: Mild, Spicy, and Sweet. I tried out all 3 of them and found my favorite to be the sweet sauce. While Bob's doesn't get extra points for such things as crushed ice, I can tell you the food is clearly worth stopping by for. The pork sandwich was sufficient in size, and the meat was clean and did a good job scratching the barbecue itch. Bob's Brunswick stew is as good as you'll find. The consistency is something of a finer has rather than large, chunky pieces. Jed and Brandon gave the cheeseburgers a thumbs up, and with my suitable rating on the bbq, they'll be headed out to collect on a bet of some nature likely related to a college football game to again try out the Bob's Barbecue.

Overall, until I find a reason to rate downward, I'm giving Georgia Bob's a 4 out of 5 with the promise of going back for another sampling in the future. Now, I'm headed back to Cumming where I have a pocket full of gift cards from Jim 'n Nick's where my friend Brian Lyman is getting it right with quality and service that sets a new standard for BBQ!