Last weekend friends came to visit and I took them to a local BBQ place. Almost everyone that has visited me has been to Little Pigs BBQ. Their choice after being multiple options I’m not getting commission on the pork. I just happen to have friends and family that are BBQ fans. Upon reflection it occurred to me that I could say Little Pigs was the best BBQ place I’ve tried in the area. It also has the distinction of being the only one. So while It is good I decided I needed more data points to compare them too.
For that reason I decided to go data collecting this weekend. My stop this week was Black’s Smokehouse in Seneca. I planned to get takeout and bring it back to the house. The idea was to get 2 plates and split it up to make 3 meals so I could get variety and do some easy meal prep for later. I got there right after they opened and honestly thought they were closed until I saw the Open sign lit up and inviting me in.
I got welcomed the second I walked in by a nice lady who was ready to get my order going. Here are the menu boards I had to choose from.
For my multi-plate carry-out I went with the obligatory pulled pork plate and a half rack dry rubbed rib plate. Each came with 2 sides. I decided to try the cabbage casserole because I’d never even heard of it much less tried it. Loaded potato salad, baked beans and classic mac n cheese rounded out the quartet. They provided little cups of each of the 4 BBQ sauces they serve as well.
Side note, they get extra points from me because they are obviously college sports fans. They had the ever present Clemson National Championship banner but as I was walking around while they were making up my plates I caught this flash of red and black and saw there was a Georgia Bulldogs scarf hanging from an animal skull. So it was either the weirdest lost and found ever or someone was a UGA fan. I came down on the side of them being college fans when I saw the big Tennessee flag hanging in the hall between the two dining areas. Since it was only the three I assumed it wasn’t just pandering to all college sports fans either. So that will earn them an rating point.
So I got my food and headed to the house. Here are the pre-split plates in all their glory.
I pulled about about two thirds of the meat and sides to make plates for later and used the balance to make my sampler plate for reviewing. In hindsight, as I sit hear overfull and contemplating a nap, I could have made 4 plates and still been full at the end of the day. Here’s the tasting plate.
So let’s talk sides. The potato salad was made with skin on potatoes and had a nice mustard / mayo ratio and some bacon bits to get the loaded part covered I guess. It was enjoyable. The baked beans were non-descript but I’m going to descript them anyway. They weren’t bad but just plain generic sweet baked beans. The mac n cheese was also a little bit of a disappointment. The cheese sauce was verging on too thin, the pasta however, was cooked al-dente and that kept it from being a full on disappointment. The cabbage casserole was a nice surprise after the lackluster performance of the beans and pasta. Cooked cabbage with a creamy, cheesy sauce (maybe the same as the mac) and topped with crushed Ritz crackers. The cabbage and potato salad were definitely the best of the 4.
The ribs had a great smoky flavor. For a dry rub they were kind of glazy but still very nice. The meat was tender and came away from the bones easily but you had to give it a tug. To me that’s better than some of the “fall off the bone” ones that almost seem soggy they break down so fast. I had the 3 smallest ones for this meal and they were each reasonably meaty. Definitely a good selection.
The pulled pork was also the sauce delivery system so I’ll cover that all here. The meat was smoky, not as much as the ribs but still sufficiently smoked and a little seasoning. Pleasant and good enough to eat plain but of course I had to sample the sauces. I approached the mustard with a “just get it done” attitude because I’m not a big fan of mustard BBQ sauces. It turned out OK, tangy with just a hint of sweetness, very mustardy. The vinegar was my next try and it was pretty decent. It could have used a little more pepper for me but it’s pretty hard to screw up this sauce. The red thicker BBQ sauce was very much a glorified ketchup in my opinion. It was a bit more vinegary but also sweeter than ketchup. Overall it was disappointing. The hot version of this same sauce was glorified ketchup with a tinge of spiciness. Mixing the hot and vinegar made a passable sauce. If you’re a fan of Kansas City style BBQ sauces just keep driving.
As disappointing as the sauces were and in spite of the mediocrity of 2 of the sides I think the other 2 and more importantly the success of the meat make Black’s Smokehouse a place I could feel comfortable visiting again. I’m giving them 4 out of 5 butts. Pork butts that is. I mean the burnt ends special with jalapeno cheese grits and hush puppies may just blow me away and get them to 4.5 butt territory.