GA Pig, Brunswick, GA

GA Pig, Brunswick, GA

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Roadside Rib Shack in Sarasota, FL

My lovely wife went out to get us the Roadside Sampler Platter as I had to work today. I wish we had been able to dine there because it was great and I would love to have checked it out in person.

The platter includes 4 ribs, 1/2 pound pulled pork, 1/4 chicken, 2 sides and cornbread. We chose Mac 'n cheese and greens. We split this and it was plenty of food. It was a terrific value. It comes without sauce so Mim picked up a sample of all 4 of their sauces. 3 very similar versions of a red sauce, sweet, spicy and regular and a nice mustard sauce. All were good, not great but no complaints. I haven't had a mustard sauce outside SC that I thought was worth eating and this one missed a bit and was a little too sweet. All, however, complemented the BBQ quite nicely.

None of this BBQ needed sauce, it was all perfectly cooked, smoked, porky and chicken BBQ goodness. None of the meats were buried in heavy rubs. The meats were of excellent quality and really fresh tasting. Definitely not yesterday's leftovers. Pulled pork is so very often dry and in my mind often incorrectly chopped or sliced. This was really juicy and succulent. I didn't catch any smoke but the flavor was terrific. I really liked it with the mustard sauce. The ribs had the tips on and were meaty, fall off the bone, juicy and flavorful.

I highly recommend you don't skip the Mac. This is some of the best I have had. It was creamy and caramelized on the top. It was just plain delicious. The greens were very good, many are undercooked and this was perfect. The corn muffin has too much white wheat flour. You can just skip it. I'll be back as soon as I can.

4 Rivers Smokehouse in Winter Park, FL

This place gets a lot of buzz, and, after having lunch here recently, we can see why. Many of the reviews on yelp mention how busy they can get here around lunchtime, and it was no different on the day we went...a line out the door. It's a tiny space with no seating indoors, but picnic tables on a covered patio in the back. We spoke with a guy while waiting in line who lives in the area, and he said they're in the process of expanding at another location down the road, so soon perhaps we'll see another incarnation of 4 Rivers. Personally, we like sitting at picnic tables with strangers. The line moves very quickly, as these guys have it down. We placed our order, which is put together from a hot line on the service side of the counter, and made our way to the patio. Mim went with the sliders, which give you a choice of three out of four meats...pulled and sliced pork, brisket and burnt ends, which is the pulled pork and brisket trimmings mixed. The pulled pork was excellent...saucy and a little spicy, with a nice rich pork flavor and plenty of smoke. The brisket was great too, although the burnt ends were a little too rich for us both. Still, great flavors. Doug had the St. Louis ribs, and found them to be lacking in absolutely nothing; rich, full pork flavor, nice smoke and sauce that balanced well between sweet and tangy. The sides we had...Brunswick stew, baked beans, cole slaw and collard greens...were all great too.

The size and variety of the menu here is impressive. 4 Rivers smokes brisket, ribs, pork, whole chicken and chicken wings, turkey, even jalapenos. They will do advance orders of smoked whole turkey, ham, leg of lamb, beef short ribs and salmon. They have a creative list of specialty sandwiches and salads, and it's a rare barbecue place that offers the number of desserts we had to pass by before getting to the cash register. They put them right in front of you to make it easy. This is some of the best barbecue it has been our fortune to come across, and 4 Rivers has earned a spot on our top 10 list.