Over the weekend, I tried out the "Pig Picker's BBQ" inside the "Sea King Seafood" carry out just south of Route 40, across the street from The Crab Shanty. Pretty good! It's a small place, and mostly carry-out, but there are a couple tables, and a couple small counters away from the ordering area and display cases.
It's kind of an interesting concept - fresh seafood, fried and steamed seafood, and the usual array of sides on the "Sea King" side, and then the usual ribs, chicken, pulled pork, brisket, and sides on the "Pig Pickers" side.
Wanting to try a few things, I went with the half slab platter of ribs with BBQ beans and collard greens for the sides, then followed it up with a pulled pork sandwich, and a corn muffin for "dessert".
Initial plus on first impression - these were "real" ribs, not the "baby backs" that seem to be the preference of places that just don't "get" BBQ. That said, these are cut so that you get only the bone portion, not the meaty chunk that surrounds the cartilage on full spare ribs - sort of spare ribs cut like baby backs, if that makes any sense. The pulled pork in my sandwich was very moist, and quite good.
The sauce (not sure if they gave me the "mild" or the "sweet" sauce - it seem like a "hot" or "spicy variant is not an option) wasn't bad, but nothing special, either, but the ribs were very tasty. As with most good ribs, the sauce wasn't really necessary - it properly served to highlight the meat, not hide the flavor, and taken in that light, the sauce did its job admirably. On the whole, the BBQ sauce and the pulled pork marinade aren't as spicy as Andy Nelson's, Smoky Hollow, or BBW, but still quite good.
They claim that the ribs are hickory smoked, and they even post a sing about "look for the pink smoke ring on the meat", but I didn't see a wood pile or smell the smoke while driving up. It may be one of the big commercial indoor smokers, though, and I didn't note which way the wind was blowing. From a flavor standpoint, it sure tasted like the real deal, and as much as the purist in me says "No woodpile? Keep driving!", the pragmatist in me says this is Baltimore, and the options available are all too few, so if the taste is there, does it really matter?
The beans and collards were both quite nice, but vegetarians beware - nice chunks of bacon or salt pork in both! .
Prices were also pretty reasonable, most likely due to the "mostly carry-out" model cutting overhead for waitstaff, bussing tables, and so forth. If I were local, I'd be hitting this place fairly often, I think. I still prefer Andy Nelson's, and if I lived midway between the two, I'd go to Andy's. If I had to drive past Pig Picker's to get to Andy's, though, I suspect I'd be stopping at Pig Picker's much of the time, and saving Andy's for times when I really had a jones for their 'Q.
I may also go back to try the seafood - if the 'Q is any indication, this place may do other things well, too. I noted that Sea King has another location on Liberty Road in Randallstown that also has a Pig Picker's location, but I didn't pay attention to where it is.
And the usual cautions apply - BBQ is a food that many people have strong preferences about - your opinion may vary from mine. And this review is on one night - I may have hit them on a good night. I'll likely be going back, though. If I find any major differences on future visits, I'll post an update.