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Monday, November 2, 2009

Carolina Comes To Akron!!

Just a note to readers up front, this blog will be peppered with lots of yum's, oh my God's, and as many other euphemisms for delicious as I can come up with.

OK, with that out of the way, Nick and I were celebrating our 16th wedding anniversary this weekend and were looking for a place to go. The past three years we went LeFever's in Cuyahoga Falls. A place we loved but has now changed names and changed hands and well, even though we haven't been there since the change, it just isn't the same. Plus, times are tough and we couldn't really afford the hefty price tag a dinner at a place like LeFever's can run.

I've had several friends recommend Old Carolina Barbecue Company in Canton and in Massillon and hell, I'm always up for some good BBQ. There really isn't any nearby and going to Valley View to Hoggy's is kind of a pain. So I went on the web to find directions to Old Carolina in Canton and was quite thrilled to find that their new restaurant in Akron had opened two days before! We are so there.

Now, I'm used to a place like Hoggy's that is big and loud. I was really surprised when we pulled up to Old Carolina and found that it was a store front in a strip mall. No big deal, just a surprise.

When we walked in, the menu's were on the wall or you could have one at the counter to read.

We were immediately greeted by one of the Old Carolina partners, Tim Hug, and he walked us through Old Carolina's menu and ordering process. There are not a lot of things on the menu and we like that. Do something good and do it right. I don't need a 10 page menu. We came for BBQ and that's what we wanted. Tim told us about the four different sauces that Old Carolina offers, which are all available to try. The sauces are the Original Classic, which is a sweeter sauce (and my fave). The Piedmont, which is a tangier sauce. Original Gold, which has a richer more golden color. And Screamin Beaver, which is their hot sauce. I tried the first three and loved them all. I'd put them in this order for my taste... Original Classic, Original Gold, Piedmont.

He also told us we could see the smokers in the back (through a window) while we wait.

We put in our order, found a table, checked out the smokers and then got our drinks and our sauces. The wait was very short. Before we knew it our platters of piping hot and glorious looking BBQ was at our table. Nick ordered the Carolina which is a combination of four ribs and a generous helping of pulled pork. The meals come with two sides so Nick chose Brunswick Stew and Mac and Cheese.

I ordered the Texas which is a combination of four ribs and a very generous helping of beef brisket. My two sides were garlic mashed potatoes, which I am just a sucker for. When I see mashed on the menu, I'm inevitably getting them. I also got hush puppies.

This is a hell of a lot of food for $13.99. A hell of a lot of incredibly delicious food. I don't even know where to begin. OK, I'll start with the brisket.

Look at that stunning smoke ring. The brisket was so tender, juicy, and just the right amount of spice from the rub. I tried it as is. I tried it with all the sauces. I loved it each and every way. There was so much of it, I ate, gave some to Nick to try and brought home about 5 slices. Incidentally, it was just as good today on a sandwich for lunch.

And how about those hush puppies.

They were a little bit of a surprise. Why? Well I usually think of hush puppies as a seafood accompaniment. But they intrigued me so I decided to give them a try. As soon as Nick saw them he said, "I should have gotten the hush puppies." Not that he was disappointed in his choices, in fact he was quite happy. It's just that those little golden nuggets of happiness looked and tasted so delicious, he wished he had more than just the 3 or so of mine that I gave him. They were crispy, perfectly cooked and just a perfect textural compliment.

The garlic mashed were skin on (my fave) and lumpy (my other fave). They were full of flavor with just the right amount of garlic so as not to overpower.

And now, the ribs.

The ribs. Oh. My. God. The ribs! What can you say about ribs that are so tender and succulent they slide right off the bone? What can you say about smoky hunks of deliciousness? What can you say about a flavor that is so incredible that you don't need to add sauce to them? You can say this... more please!

Oh yes, we will be going back to Old Carolina BBQ and I highly recommend anyone in the area go there too. Old Carolina is locally owned and expanding fast. Support your local restaurants especially delicious BBQ places that come into a town with no BBQ! Get out of that stupid Olive Garden line and help out your neighbors. You will not be sorry. Old Carolina only has one dessert on the menu, Banana Pudding, but they were all out of it on Saturday night when we were there.

Tim, thanks for taking the time to talk to me and my husband on Saturday night. You're place is awesome!


Tino said...

I'm so glad you finally made it! And I'm so glad that they finally got the Akron location open. It's just that much closer to me.

Not only does Old Carolina have tasty meats, but the side dishes on the whole are also very well executed. Like you, I'm a hush puppy nut, and I have to force myself to try other sides just to keep it interesting.

Thanks for the link to the blog, too. ;)

Julie said...

We have been eating at the Belden Village area location since it opened several years ago. It is always GREAT! If you and your husband are in the mood for only ribs. My wife and I get the full slab dinner and split it. It is a huge amount of ribs and the sides easily feed two. Thanks for the shout out to local restaurants. My wife and I are constantly trying to get our friends to try local restaurants over the national chains. If you're in Canton try Sahara Grill (right next to Olive Garden on Dressler) for Lebanese food. Th owners are great and the food is even better. The best grilled Lamb I've ever had!

Kathy said...

Hey Julie's husband :) We were all set to head to Canton that night, but were lucky to find out that the Akron one had opened only 2 days before. Nick and I are both very big supporters of eating in local establishments. We don't go out as much as we used to, but when we do it's always a locally owned place.

Ran into Tim Hug of Old Carolina at the food show yesterday and it sounds like good things are happening for them. Look for restaurants to be cropping up!

Considering how much we love Aladdin's (did you see my blog about them? - they have also grown by leaps and bounds!!) the Sahara Grill sounds like a must try! Thanks for the suggestion.

Kesseret Steeplechase said...

Anthony Bourdain calls those things called sides 'starches that take up room meat should have.'

Happy Anniversary to you and Nick. Much Love to you both and Bowie, Jett, and Murphy.

Christine <3

Scott said...

This is by far the best BBQ I've had and enjoy any opportunity to partake. Pulled pork sandwich Carolina-style with slaw on the sandwich is key. Please open up in Stow! --houckster