Friday, August 1, 2014

Southern Belly

Barbeque is to the South as big hair is to New Jersey. Of course I realize we Southerners haven't cornered the market on barbeque.  All regions have their own style: Texas is all about beef and red sauce, here in the Carolinas we're all about mustard based sauce and black pepper & vinegar, and (apparently) in 'Bama, they are into white sauce.  As a born and bred Southerner, I know good bbq when I taste it, and when I do, I appreciate it.  But, I don't really seek it out.  I can't remember ever saying "hey, let's go out for barbeque."  When the 4th rolls around, it's only natural to go get barbeque, but again, I can't remember ever contemplating going out for a bbq dinner.

(fascinating aside) You know, I once worked for a doctor who was a barbeque fanatic.  You could name any town in SC and he'd tell you where to get barbeque in that town.

Well, this past July 4th, my daughter and I decided to get bbq by the lb at The Southern Belly on Rosewood Drive.  I'd driven by this place daily since it opened and started hearing really good things about it.  We were all most pleased with our J4Q so when the subject came up tonight of getting takeout, I suggested we try some of their sandwiches.  You see, this isn't your typical barbeque joint...there's no macaroni & cheese, nor fried chicken, nor green beans, no banana pudding.  They serve inventive bbq sandwiches with a variety of homemade sauces.  The sandwiches are simply served with cole slaw and chips. Click here to check out the menu.

I chose the Southern Belly Dipper because I was curious about this white bbq sauce.  This sauce really just came onto my radar in the last few years. I'd never even heard of it before but have been interested in trying it ever since I first read about it.  

This sandwich is composed of smoky, lean pulled pork with swiss cheese, bacon and the Alabama white sauce.  Since we ordered takeout, the meat and cheese was packaged in foil so I could put the sandwich together myself.  This eliminated the possibility of soggy bun. And what an awesome bun it was!  Not a regular ol' hamburger bun like most bbq sandwiches, but instead, a fresh, crusty bun. Such is a detail that can make or break a sandwich. 

The sauce was quite a surprise.  I guess I was expecting it to be thick and mayo-y but instead discovered a pourable, slightly sweet yet creamy sauce. Combined with the bbq and swiss, it was a really delicious sandwich.  And while I love bacon as much as the next guy, I really found it unnecesary on this sandwich.  I didn't feel like it added much depth or flavor because the meat, cheese and sauce were working so well together.

Here's the zinger...the coleslaw.  As a kid, making me eat coleslaw would have been like a punishment. I'm mellowing in my tolerance of it as I age and I've actually even sampled a few preparations that I've liked.  For instance, the slaw I had on a hot dog at Dupre's at the Market and the coleslaw at Tony's over on Knox Abbott Drive are both really tasty.  But I have to tell you, the slaw from the Southern Belly is amazingly good.  I mean, I could see me actually buying a big container of the stuff to serve at a picnic or take to a potluck.  It was so good, I wished the side that came with my sandwich was twice the size.  

In case you have yet to try the Southern Belly, let me also tell you that the place itself is adorable!  It's like a rustic little cabin.  They have smokers outside in the parking lot, porch seating and a couple long picnic tables out front.  They serve some cool craft beers and have some bbq awards adorning the walls.  I think I found a place that will now make me seek out barbeque.  In fact, I've already decided that next time, I'm ordering the "traditional" (just pulled pork with your choice of sauce) which for me will be the white sauce and that coleslaw is going on the sandwich!  When you go, turn onto Rosewood at the fairgrounds and you'll see the Belly on your right as soon as you pass under the RR trestle.  Get your pork on!

Southern Belly BBQ on Urbanspoon

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