Well, before I start a few important things for any Hounds considering making a special trip or planning to go on their way to someplace else - THEY ARE CLOSED FOR ALMOST A MONTH STARTING 7/25. ONLY OPEN FRIDAYS AND SATURDAYS - PHONE NUMBER 803-492-7543
When you get off at the Holly Hill exit on I-95 (heading North) do not take the truck route for SR 453 North! Continue into the town of Holly Hill and look for the SR 453 sign on your left - Much closer to the restaurant. It will be on your right.
Also, Bub Sweatman is no longer there because he is pretty ill. And, his wife has passed away. But the staff was wonderful as I will explain.
We arrived around 5 and there were just a few cars in the parking lot. When we left at 6:30, it was full.
They have a separate doors for take-out and their dining room. We paid immediately ($6) for "All U Can Eat Buffet" and got started.
The buffet consisted of a hash, white rice, pork skin, ribs, outside meat, inside meat, cole slaw, white bread, sweet tea, two types of pickels and two BBQ sauces. It's all you can eat - no doggie bags.
The ribs were very tender and reminded me a great deal of the ribs I had several times at Maurice's Piggy Park in Columbia, SC. Only these were far less fatty. They were very good, but I must caution you that they have no crust-like exterior texture, if you like that - I happen do. I liked Tom Jenkin's ribs better for this reason.
For those Hounds who do not know about Tom Jenkins, its a very good pit smoked "Q" place in Ft. Lauderdale - they do only butts, smoked sausage, and ribs. No whole hog.
The outside meat was terrific. It was so tasty and had wonderful textures. The manager told me when they turn the hog over during the cooking process the basting sauce creates the added flavor to the outer meat. I wish I could have put it on a bun, gone back for seconds, and returned the following day to have the ribs. But, alas, there was just so much my gall bladder could take and it was a turn-around trip.
My buddy went back 3 times!!
The inside meat was kind of dry and we both rated that 3rd of the four offerings. I'd heard another Hound describe it like the Cuban suckling pig, but it was nowhere near as moist as that.
Next came the funniest thing - a sign stating that "We don't guarantee skin" pertained to their pork skin. Apparently this is a big favorite and yet there are times they run out of it as a steam table offering. I tried some but almost broke a tooth. Just didn't get it. Hey I saved smoe HDL points as well.
The hash was also something we did not like. It was very well made though with no gristle, fat, etc. It's just that we did not like it's bland taste - I guess it, too, is an acquired taste.
I loved their mustard and vinegar sauce, but you really don't need it with the ribs or outside meat. You do need it with the inside meat. At least the meat we had. Perhaps it was just a dry batch?
The banana pudding was ok - nothing great. Dreamland's was far superior - In fact, their's was the best I have ever had.
After the meal, I asked the manager if we could go out back and see the entire process. She said ok and that was amazing. We entered one of the sheds and were introduced to the guy who handled all the smokers. He raised several of the heavy steel covers with a rope pully to show us the freshly placed whole hogs, split in half, lying on the gratings. What an operation!
Then he took us outside to a separate fireplace where he was burning hickory and oak hardwoods. Once the wood start to break down, he scoops up the hot cinders with these huge shovels and carries them to the smokers and throws the hot embers under the gratings - Talk about a labor intensive process.
The hogs cook for 10 hours and he started these particular ones at 5:00 pm so he had a long night ahead of him. I asked what they do the rest of the week and he said they chop wood!
It was a long ride, but we enjoyed it. I saw first hand what this place was all about. I do want to visit Lexington, NC and that other famous place in Ayden? NC - this was my first experience with whole hog "Q" - need to think about it some more....
I love ribs and have made them all my life. I am use to a different type of rib; more like those served in Memphis or at Tom Jenkin's.