Thanks to a brief mention in the News & Observer, we decided to try out the new Fire Pit BBQ (http://www.firepitnc.com/) in Wake Forest today. They claim to use only oak and hickory wood smoking... No gas allowed. I was pleased to see that they are open on Sundays, giving us barbeque fans a 7th day option for getting our pork on.
Factual stuff first... This is a relatively small restaurant in a shopping center in an outlying part of Wake Forest. There are around 10-15 tables (depending on how many have been pulled together for larger groups), plus 10-12 stools at a long wooden bar. You look at the menu on a big chalkboard at the front, order and pay at a register, then sit down and wait for your name to be called. Bare wood tabletops. Pick up some silverware wrapped in a napkin. There are about six fountain sodas, sweet & unsweet iced tea, and bottled beer.
You can look at the full menu online, so I won't bother to go through the offerings. Even though they had a good crowd this afternoon, our food was ready very quickly. Portions are large. We felt we could have easily shared a two-meat platter. Beware... They list hush puppies as an option for a side, but when I ordered them, she didn't bother to tell me that you get a few hush puppies and a roll automatically with the platters. So I was rolling in carbs and would have preferred to try a different side if I had known.
I truly believe there are no absolutes in the world of barbeque. So all impressions and opinions stated from here on out are mine and mine alone. They reflect my personal prejudices and preferences and probably won't match yours.
We tried the St. Louis style ribs, brisket, and pulled pork. Sides included the Lexington-style red slaw, collard/mustard greens, and corn pudding (as well as an abundance of the aforementioned hush puppies, which were light and airy, but missing some seasonings to make them more interesting).
The slaw was swimming in vinegar. Far too much liquid for my taste. The vinegar covered every other possible tasting note. The greens seemed very real and home-cooked. Slightly bitter, as those greens typically are. The corn pudding was very moist, with lots of corn kernels. But it was so sweet I felt it worked better as a dessert than a side. They need to cut the sugar a bit.
The ribs are cooked with a dry rub coating the outside to form a crispy dark bark. It features a good amount of pepper, but is not "mouth on fire" hot. The meat was tender and came off the bone easily. It had the telltale pinkness from wood smoking that it should have. They were perfectly acceptable, but not quite up to the greatness of the best of that style that you can get through the central part of our country. Pretty good for North Carolina however.
The brisket was moist and tender, with just a touch of fat left at the tips, but otherwise lean. It was cooked gray throughout. I felt it was very bland tasting... no discernible flavor notes to comment on. It cried out for a sauce, but the only sauces available are NC style vinegar sauces, which I don't like to use with brisket. I felt that both the ribs and the brisket should at least have the option of a thick "sweet 'n tangy" red sauce (Midwest/Texas style) for those of us who want to goop 'em up that way. However I realize that this is considered heresy in many parts of NC.
The pulled pork was unquestionably the standout for me. Thick, big pieces of pork easily identifiable as pulled from a slow-cooked hog. Just like going to a pig pickin'. Thoroughly juicy, tender, and melt-in-your mouth. Highest marks in my book.
I'll be interested to hear your takes on it to compare and contrast our preferences.
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