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Update: Quick Reviews of Cannon’s, Home Team, Hudson’s, Southside, Music Man’s and A &M Brown’s

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It has been a long time since our last review. Summer came to a close, the impetus of the “Summer BBQ Tour” stopped, life moved on, and, well… the barbecue actually continued, just on a much slower pace, but, of course, the reviews did not. Apologies.

We have, in fact, tried out new places as life presented new opportunities.

In an effort to catch up, I will attempt to provide recollections of the places we’ve visited since our summer tour ended.  These will be in no particular order and it would not be fair to call them reviews. It has been too long and my memory is too weak for a fair review, but here is what I can remember:

Cannon’s BBQ – Little Mountain, SC

1) Cannon’s BBQ in Little Mountain, SC. We stopped by Cannon’s on the way to my mother’s house in Inman. Heather had been reading reviews on the way up, trying to find a place, and she read that they cooked over wood coals that they burned themselves. That was reason enough for us to pick Cannon’s. We turned off of I-26 on exit 91 and headed toward Little Mountain, passing another BBQ place along the way, Farm Boy’s Barbecue. I don’t know if they were open yet, but there was NO ONE in the parking lot.  This was lunchtime on a Saturday. Seemed odd, but I won’t make assumptions. Anyway, we finally found Cannon’s a few miles later. It is a modified mobile home, I would guess, that sits right in a “five points” style intersection with roads converging from strange angles. The lot was largely unattractive, with an overfilled trash dumpster and wood strewn about an unkempt lot.  But we don’t care about looks. Some of the best barbecue (Scott’s, for example) is found in places the average Joe might fear to tread. Unlike Farm Boy’s, Cannon’s was fairly packed, a good sign we surmised. We entered the trailer and found the window to “order here” in the middle of the back wall. We asked for a pound of pork, a pound of ribs, and some hash to go, with their sauce on the side. We waited for a bit and then our order was ready. As I said, we were traveling to my Mom’s, actually going to meet the family for a Christmas luncheon, so we didn’t eat at the time. We put the goods in a cooler in the car and headed off. (Truth is we did all sneak a sample before putting it away.) We didn’t get to the BBQ until our trip home that night. Bottom line is we don’t remember much about the food 3 months later, and maybe that is the most telling feature on its own. What we do remember is that the pork was chopped, which we tend to dislike, and by the time we got to it, it had dried out. Not Cannon’s fault, it was many hours later. I don’t remember it having the “smokey” flavors one would expect having been cooked over coals. For what it’s worth, I do remember thinking the pork was good, considering the delay in our eating it. Camden remembers thinking his ribs (he always orders the ribs if available) were “weird” and that they fell off of the bone, which — supposedly — is a bad thing. The hash was good we agreed. The sauce… Well, I grew up in Cheraw, and one of my most striking food memories is of the BBQ our cub scout troop made (whole hog, wood coals) for the Methodist church fundraiser. (Really, we didn’t make it; someone in charge did… I just got to sample it.) It was a vinegar-pepper based sauce. THAT is BBQ for me. Cannon’s sauce is typical of the Midlands: mustard based. We do like some mustard sauces — in fact, Heather makes a mustard-based sauce recipe that is my favorite of our own homemade sauces, but I haven’t found one that I like that is strong on the mustard flavor itself. Both Cannon’s and Jackie Hite’s in Batesburg-Leesville, have a very concentrated yellow mustard flavor, almost to the point of wondering whether or not there is anything else in the sauce. We simply don’t care for it. We will eat it to honor their efforts, but we just don’t care for it.  In the end, we would suggest you give Cannon’s a shot, particularly if you like yellow mustard sauces.

Home Team BBQ – Sullivan’s Island, SC

(Revised on 1/4/2015)

2) Home Team BBQ on Sullivan’s Island, SC.  Camden and I visited Home Team on a weekend when Heather was out of town. Home Team is only about two miles from our house and is found right in the midsts of the “business district” of Sullivan’s Island. There are a number of great pubs and restaurants on the island: Sullivan’s is a personal favorite, Dunleavy’s has been in business as long as I can remember, and Poe’s Tavern is another great spot. I had great hopes for Home Team’s BBQ, however, it hasn’t earned such a lofty status with us. Please keep in mind that for us, as far as these reviews are concerned, it is all about the BBQ itself. We may mention the sides or the ambiance, but our bottom line is always based on the pork itself. For that, there is no reason to visit Home Team.

Camden, of course, ordered the ribs. I got a pulled pork platter. I will start with the ribs. They weren’t very good. I don’t know how anyone could like them. They are coated with what I am guessing started as a dry rub. It has no flavor and sits on top of the ribs like a layer of sawdust. That is the most honest comparison I can make. It doesn’t impart flavor, heat, or spice of any sort. It coats the tongue and masks any flavor the ribs may have picked up from the smoke. We strongly advise against ordering the ribs. Camden refused to eat more than one of them. He may have eaten two out simply out of feeling guilty for having wasted our money on them.

Fortunately, I recorded our impressions on my phone right after our visit. Camden had a ½ rack of ribs, baked beans, mac and cheese, and cornbread. He said, “Honestly, the cornbread was the best thing on the plate, and then again, not so much.” I thought the cornbread was pretty good, myself.

Here are his thoughts about the ribs. “They had no flavor at all. There was no smoke ring, Dad. (I had said there was.) There was no flavor, whatsoever.” He even tried to rub some meat on the side of the ribs on the rub “to get more flavor in the meat….and, that’s not really what it did,” he said. I agreed that it didn’t have much flavor. “There was like… mostly a fatty taste,” I reported of the rib I tried. “It wasn’t like I was eating pieces of fat, it was just… fatty meat,” Camden said they probably don’t clean their meat of the extra fat and silver skin. “Everything is better than those ribs,” Camden finished.

(I’d like to add here that anyone can have a bad day and one plate should not condemn a restaurant that has a very good reputation in the area, but this was our honest reaction to the rack of ribs that we received.)

As for the pulled pork platter, it was not nearly as bad as the ribs, but it wasn’t exceptional BBQ either. “It was ok, better than your ribs, I think,” I said. “I had the collards which I really liked. They were sweet and smokey. I had a cucumber and tomato salad, which was fine, nothing special, It was just ok. Cleansing to go along with the fatty pork,” I continued.

As for the sauces: “They had a vinegar-pepper sauce that you should just pass on; that’s  not worth trying.” I reported. “The mustard sauce was awful. It was just like pure mustard. Not Dukes like mustard, though. I didn’t try the ‘hot red’ sauce, but I did have the red sauce and it was the best of the three… or four, I guess. It had a “vinegariness” to it. It definitely had ketchup in it.”

Overall, we obviously cannot recommend the ribs. We think most people will enjoy the pulled pork, as it was good. Upon reflection and now having tried more mustard sauces around the state, I suspect Home Team’s mustard emulates that which we tried in places like Cannon’s and Jackie Hite’s, which has a strong yellow mustard taste. We simply don’t care for that style of mustard sauce. Not sure why anyone would, but to each his own.

In the end, we feel compelled to add Home Team back to our list of places to try. We believe we may have caught them on an off night and would like to give them another chance before drawing too damning of a conclusion. We will add a note below to our newest review when life provides us the opportunity.

Hudson’s Smokehouse BBQ – Lexington, SC

3) Hudson’s Smokehouse BBQ on 378 in Lexington, SC. Apparently, there are a few Hudson’s BBQ’s in the Columbia area, so to be specific, we went to the one at 4952 Sunset Boulevard in Lexington. Heather and I were taking Camden and his friend Derek to the State Museum in Columbia. We knew since we were traveling that we would need to find a BBQ place to try out. As usual, Heather hit the internet, looking up reviews of various places in the area.  Because of both proximity and review quality, we picked Hudson’s. I’m glad we did.

Hudson’s is a buffet, not unlike most BBQ places. I have to honestly say at this point, I don’t remember the BBQ  or the sauces like I should. I do remember liking it enough as a whole that on another trip through Columbia shortly after our first visit, Camden and I made a point of going back for lunch. It is not great BBQ, like Scott’s or McCabe’s, but it was good enough that we went back when we had a chance, and that says something.

Unfortunately, I apparently didn’t record any of our thoughts on either visit as I typically do, which makes this recollection even more difficult, but the bottom line in most of our reviews is: Would you make the trip back?

We already have, maybe not specifically for the BBQ, but we made a point of going there instead of elsewhere on that journey, so it must be worth our recommendation.

Southside Smokehouse and Grille – Landrum, SC

4) Southside Smokehouse and Grille in Landrum, SC.  This is going to be short because frankly, I don’t remember too much. Heather traveled to NC for a funeral in Tryon, NC. A friend’s mother had recently passed away. On the way back, she decided to stop by Southside Smokehouse in Landrum, which is nearby, and bring some food home.

If I remember correctly, Southside had recently been taken over by a new owner (or chef) and she had revamped the menu. It seemed enticing and I remember Heather being somewhat smitten with the place.

She brought home a couple of styrofoam containers. I remember little about the food at this point, so I hesitate to comment. My best recollection is that the BBQ was ok, obviously not too memorable.  I would say I would like to go back to check out their entire menu, but I certainly wouldn’t drive from Charleston just for the BBQ.

Music Man’s BBQ – Moncks Corner, SC

5) Music Man’s BBQ in Moncks Corner, SC.  This recollection will be short as well. We traveled to Moncks Corner to celebrate – if I remember correctly — a birthday and the 50th anniversary of US citizenship for Heather’s step-grandmother, Elizabeth Murphy. We found out when we arrived that the event was catered by Music Man. I know Music Man uses whole hogs, so I was happy to have a chance to try some new BBQ. That is the gist of my faint recollection. I remember enjoying what I ate. I remember having seconds. I don’t remember being overly impressed, but I enjoyed what I ate. Maybe life will lead us back to Music Man’s and I can write a more thorough review in the future.

A&M Brown’s BBQ (Update) – Moncks Corner, SC

6) A&M Brown’s BBQ in Moncks Corner, SC. This is an update to a previous review. We lost Mrs. Murphy on March 4, 2014, a bright soul who always made us feel welcome in her home and in her life. Her funeral was catered by A&M. We were impressed by the taste and quality of all the food, including the BBQ. Our previous review was not flattering, but this second opportunity left us with a different taste in our mouths. The hash was fantastic. The BBQ, too, was very good. I didn’t care for the mustard as much as the vinegar-pepper, but if you’ve read enough of our reviews, that will likely come as no surprise. I just wanted to take this opportunity to give A&M a second review, not because they were kind enough to cater the funeral but because the quality of the food was worth reporting.

And that should catch us up. Going forward, I will try to do a better job writing actual reviews in a timely manner. I don’t know that we’ll dine on BBQ as frequently in such a short timeframe as we did that summer, but when we do, we’ll let you know what we thought.

Again, I’d like to say we don’t consider ourselves experts in any sense of the word. We are just a typical family who likes BBQ and we’re happy to share our experiences with you.