Archive for the ‘Food, Restaurants, & N.C. Barbecue’ Category

Lewis BBQ in Durham, a rare find, truly great Eastern-NC-Style barbecue

November 29, 2005

If my wife and I hadn’t found Smokey Bones in Fayetteville and Greensboro NC, respectively, last month which – even though they’re a regional chain and chain barbecue restaurants generally are mediocre at best, ‘Bones is not mediocre – offers simply the best pulled-pork barbecue I’ve had in over 20 years, then I’d be plugging Lewis BBQ in Durham which, despite the fact I moved to Apex this past June not 5-6 miles from Lewis’, I finally managed to get to for lunch yesterday and all I can say is WOW!!!, if not for Smokey Bones and Lewis’ is 98% as good as Smokey’s, just a more traditional Eastern North Carolina chopped pork style, then I’d be telling you that Lewis has the best barbecue I’ve had in over 20 years, yeah, Wow!

Per my SOP, I’m going to eat there at least one more time before writing a formal review of them and putting it on my wildly popular NC-BBQ Page

http://hkentcraig.com/bbq.html

. . . so look for it there sometime between now and Christmas, but please do consider stopping by and enjoying Lewis’ fine porcine fare if you’re near the intersection of NC Highways 54 & 55 just off I-40, they’re just south of the Golden Corral there on the right on ’55 as you head south.

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In praise of Hardee’s simple #9 breakfast bowl combo

November 28, 2005

This post is an example of one of the primary reasons I went back to blogging, to talk about things publicly and try to plug and/or warn of things which have my day-to-day attentions, such as the humble working man’s breakfast fare of Hardee’s “Low-Carb Breakfast Bowl”, their #9 Combo if you’re a customer of theirs, which to me is a work of culinary genius.

Considering because of my “different” genetics all I can eat is basically meat and carbs and a few complex enzymes, when I find something I truly enjoy eating such as Hardee’s Breakfast Bowl, a very simple yet elegant combination of cheese, eggs (albeit poured from a container, Sigh), bacon, ham and sausage all layered into a totally filling for the stomach and totally satisfying for the tongue and the psyche, I just have to spend the five minutes to talk about it here.

Denny’s used to have something a little similar, their “meat lover’s skillet”, but at my local Denny’s (I never went to any Denny’s before The Year 2001, discovering their “meat lover’s skillet” while on traveling on vacation that year) while still available it’s no longer on the menu and no longer served in a ceramic skillet and in a bowl instead, you can still get it but you have to ask for it specifically off-menu but it’s still very good indeed.

But the Denny’s offering while excellent has tiny potato cubes as filler to keep from having to spend too much food costs on actual meat and cheese and the Hardee’s Breakfast Bowl has their “tater’ tots” on the side and is nothing but pure carnivour protean in the actual plastic bowl it’s served in and has twice or close to three times the actual meat of Denny’s offering at less than half Denny’s price, the total price of the Breakfast Bowl Combo at my local Raleigh #19 Hardee’s, and this is the actual bowl of meat eggs and cheese plus tots and unlimited beverage bar refills (I love Hardee’s sweet tea) for just $4.74 while Denny’s meat skillet with sweet tea but without tip is about nine bucks.

I also stop by Bojangle’s for their authentic country ham biscuits for breakfast from time to time, but considering the simple yet total primal sensory satisfaction my inner caveman gets from Hardee’s offering, most mornings if/when I’m out and about and am passing close to one, it’s no contest, my inner comfort-food-seeking savage always wins.

My favorite local burger joint, Christie’s in Cary, is on the way out apparently

November 22, 2005

I honestly never thought I’d have to say these words, but after the worst lunch I’ve had anywhere in the past couple of years and having it foisted upon me at my favorite local cafe’ and burger joint no less, Christies in Cary at the corner of Maynard and E. Chatham across from The Circus Barn ice cream shoppe, I’m afraid the recent change in day-to-day management (I’m not sure of actual ownership, none of my business) has marked the eventual deathknell for a place I’ve been to literally hundreds of times over the past ten going on almost fifteen years and brought at least 100+ eventual “new converts” to over that time as well.

A while back I discovered their incredible “Salisbury steak” which is nothing more than one of their (in the past) incredibly superb hamburgers cooked in a pressure cooker and the resulting brown gravy which was ambrosia to me atop perfect mashed potatoes and upon finding that off-menu item (though it was on their daily menu chalkboard) quit eating what I always told everyone was simply the best hamburger I’ve ever had and ate their Salisbury steak only after that first bite hit my palate, but today, what I had, what was served to me and what I managed somehow to eat was, well, terrible.

Instead of cooking their premium ground beef patty in a pressure cooker (along with lotsa other ground beef patties to be served fresh that day to eager customers) for hours until soft enough to cut with a sharp look, what I was served was an old hamburger at least two maybe three or more days old with some weak store-bought brown gravy from mix just splashed on it, and more than irritated I was just sorely disappointed, because I knew it marked the end of Christie’s era as reigning local burger and cafe champ.

The excuse for what was called a hamburger steak with gravy was so tough I almost sent it back but managed to get it down, it was literally like trying to eat a boilded leather bottom from an old shoe, and when I complained to the manager, not to complain as much as to offer constructive feedback so she/they could go back to the “old ways” of doing it right, she tried to blame the lack of their truck showing up (sorry, but a beef patty is a beef patty and there’s no excuse for serving old hamburger patties 2-3 days old which were NOT cooked in a pressure cooker, the way “The Christies” used to do it) but even she knew that wasn’t even a good attempt at a lie.

I told her I’d come back one more time, Maybe, this has been my lunch refuge forever it seems like after all, and if it was still like today’s Carnivorous Horriblous, then Christie’s will have lost me as a customer, for good, forever. I hope next visit is better, is like Christie’s of old, is all I can say.

My new/revised review of Hog Heaven Bar-B-Q in Durham, NC

November 19, 2005

After getting several outright hatemails and many disagreeing emails about my panning review of Hog Heaven Bar-B-Q in Durham this past February, I and frequent lunch dining companion Russell Smith who accompanied me to HH first time around went back for “seconds� today, and if you’d like to read what we found this time, please go to:


http://www.hkentcraig.com/BBQ39.html

Christie’s has undergone major management changes . . .

November 16, 2005

. . . and I mean the beyond-superb breakfast-and-burger cafe’ in Cary that I’ve been eating at – at lease once-twice a week for the past ten plus years, not the major auction house in New Yawk.

The owners, as much as I’ve been a regular I still don’t know their “real” names and have never pried, I go for their perfect Cuisine American’ food, not to socialize with them, I just have always called them “Mr. & Mrs. Christie”, have finally built up enough reputation to where they can semi-“retire” and devote more of their time to their other business interests, specifically the real estate holdings they’ve apparently amased since moving to Cary in the late 80’s/early 90’s and starting the restaurant.

I would geuss I’ve “turned on” at least a hundred, maybe two hundred different friends and business acquentences to Christie’s superb fare over these many years. The simply have THE BEST hamburger I’ve ever eaten, eaten anywhere anytime and it’s always stayed consistently THAT good, you would have to try one to experience it to actually believe, though truth be told I discovered an off-menu item, their version of Salisbury steak and gravy which is served weekdays lunch only after 11AM until they close at 2-ish, discovered it back a few months ago and it’s so beyond childhood-memory-of-my-mother’s-cooking-perfect that’s all I’ve had for lunch there since then, their Salisbury steak and double mashed potatoes and extra gravy on the side. Their breakfast menu is also excellent, and their large sausage patties come from a special wholesale source that Mr. Christie would never tell me where he buys them from but which are also the best sausage patties I’ve ever had.

If you local to the Cary area, you’d be amiss if you didn’t try them at least once. The new managers, “The Christies” still own the place but have turned management over to a new team, assured me that every single item on the menu will stay exactly the same as in years past. For me, it’s real simple: either the food stays consistently world-class as it’s been since way back when, or I find some other place to eat lunch at, there lots more choices in Cary for lunch than there were ten or even just five years ago. But for now, things, memories of some of most sensously-great tasting cafe food I’ve ever had or ever will have, things are the same, so please do check them out.

I don’t know the exact address, but their in the small strip shopping center on East Chathan Street, I want to say 700 block but that’s probably wrong, right across the street from “The Circus Barn” ice cream shop (everyone who’s lived in Cary longer than a week has been to and knows where The Circus Barn is, Circus’ having THE best milkshakes within a hundred miles), between Vanya’s Arts and Accessories and some little tienda-place, it’s actually pretty easy to find.

My BBQ Page updated a/my NC BBQ Blog created

November 7, 2005

Okee, it made so much sense that I simply had to do it, I went ahead and created a blog for visitors to my BBQ Page

http://hkentcraig.com/BBQ.html

to be able to post comments about my site as they wish, the link for which is

http://ncbarbecue.blogspot.com

and yes, I did kiss Google’s behind a little bit by choosing their blogsphere over WordPress’s here but at least now readers of my humble writings on The Holy Grub can flame or praise me in real-time as they wish and I won’t keep barbecue-related emails on ice for months at a time until I have a free Saturday to post them all.

Just updated my “Friendly BBQ Letters” page

November 5, 2005

I know, I know, it’s been literally months since I’ve added letters received about North Carolina barbecue to the BBQ Letters Page on my site, but this Saturday morning my tooth where I had the recent root canal was killing me and I didn’t feel like doing my usual Saturday chores (check PO box, grocery shopping, yardwork, etc.) so I sat down and did a ton of cut-and-pastes to my letters page…I know, I know, I should set up a more user-friendly letters section by maybe converting it over to a blog, but we’ll see, we’ll see…in the meantime, if you’d like to read others’ thoughts about NC BBQ, go to:

 My 2004-2005 Friendly BBQ Emails Page and check it out, & Thanks!

 

 

30 second review of Patronie’s Pizza in Apex N.C.

November 2, 2005

My wife Kris and her daughter Sekuria and our friend Kathy and I went to

Patronie’s Pizza in Apex NC not a block away from where we live for the first time last night despite having moved to the neighborhood back in June and my dining companions were very impressed by their “regular” pizza and calzones and all and just loved their “white pizza” made special for me with a plain olive oil and just ricotta and provolone cheese but I wasn’t impressed….my white pizza was good, was okay, but not world-class like it is at many other pizza places even local ones…and I was disappointed they used only two, not three or four, white cheeses.

Yes, it is an authentic Brooklyn pizza joint, a fact that means that with my food allergies I can’t physically handle their red sauces and is a nice place in general but is one voice among the choir of similar local competing joints. My first taste of white pizza was many decades ago at a similar pizza joint actually in Brooklyn and unfortunately for all since I have to compare what I eat now with the memory of that first time way back when, which might not be fair but hey, if a wing place like

Buffalo Brothers in Cary
can make a true four cheese white pizza that’s as good as it can get, then why can’t Patronie’s?