The last leg of the journey was somewhat strange. We ran into a few unforeseen obstacles that slowed us down.
It took us nearly half our morning to get from North Carolina to South Carolina. As we drove through the cotton fields, the thought of bbq became even sweeter. But as we passed through Hemingway, these thoughts of anticipation turned into disappointment. Scott’s was closed; this was going to be a highlight of the trip. But in the end it didn’t seem that bad. Instead, we glanced online to see which other places we could check out and we were stunned. Nearly all of the small bbq shops were closed.
I ordered a Whole Hog BBQ plate with hush puppies, honey butter and collard greens. Much like the experience in North Carolina I was astounded, but this time even more.
Scott’s was only a halfway point between our hotel, so we continued driving. When we reached our destination, I asked the concierge whether it was standard for all these bbq shops to be closed on Sunday. She told us the only reason was church. We couldn’t believe it, nearly 90% of the places we wanted to check out weren’t in operation. But this didn’t deter us; I hopped online and then began scouring for places elsewhere in South Carolina.
It turned out that many of the places I had initially wanted to visit in Charleston were open. Mom and I opted to go out of our way to see some of them and it turned out to be a great decision. Our first stop in Charleston was at Rodney Scott’s. Fortunately, this establishment was an additional location to the Scott’s in Hemingway. I ordered a Whole Hog BBQ plate with hush puppies, honey butter and collard greens. Much like the experience in North Carolina I was astounded, but this time even more. The pork was moist, tender and flavorful. The smoke wafted through the dish with a ethereal subtlety that made it fantastic. The sauce continued to improve this experience by adding just the right amount of acid and pungency. As I worked through the plate, I couldn’t help but to revel in its beauty. The hush puppies offered a nice contrast between the pork and greens and were fantastic with the honey butter (which wasn’t too sweet). The collards were also good, but weren’t anything special.
Regardless, this was the best plate of BBQ I had during the entire trip and provided a great ending to the trip. Afterwards, the team at Rodney Scott’s was kind enough to give me a tour of the pit and it was pretty awesome. The pit master was a young man majoring in architecture who had a propensity for following instructions. He told me all about cooking the oak logs, mopping the pigs and the customer smokers that RS uses to make their BBQ.
Then, we went down the road to investigate another BBQ joint called Home Team BBQ which proved to be the biggest joke I had ever witnessed. A massive bar, in full swing at 2.00pm, was packed and noisy. Mom and I had no interest in staying and I just wanted to order a portion of their whole hog bbq. But when I asked the server about the pork, I was greeted with an unpleasant surprise. Our conversation went something like this: “I see your menu says pulled pork, is it made of pork shoulder or whole hog?” “Oh, its all pork.” “I understand that, but is it made from the pork shoulder or do you roast the whole hog and then pull it.” “Yea, it’s all pork.” I made the mistake of trying to communicate with her for a few more identical exchanges before I told her “Thank you”, and left. My mother gave a fantastic assessment of Home Team BBQ, and she called it “A bar masquerading as BBQ”. And she was very right; if you’re in Charleston, check out Rodney Scott’s for the real deal, and stay away from Home Team BBQ, a complete clown fiesta.
We cut our tour short that night and ended up dining at a restaurant called Husk. This is not bbq, but it had been recommended to me by a friend I met during this last summer at the farm in Iowa. Again, even though this isn’t smoked meat, anyone looking for a fantastic dining experience – service to food – check it out. And with that, we conclude our Bbq tour. I was thrilled that I got to experience real bbq for the first time in my life. Check back next week to hear our final thoughts and look forward to more bbq related content to come!