Monday, October 17, 2011

On the Road Eats: North Carolina

The South is full of rich, fatty, stick-to-your-bones food. No matter what you eat — biscuits, fried chicken, barbecue — it seems like it's not likely to be the healthiest, but there is a lot that's tasty. I had a good sampling of it recently.

I started at The Pit in Raleigh. I had heard of The Pit because of its famed pitmaster, Ed Mitchell, who has been a part of New York's annual Big Apple Barbecue festival. Although he recently left the restaurant, I figured it was still a place worth a try.

Pumpkin skillet cornbread with maple butter was much larger than I expected. It was delicious, though I wouldn't have minded if  the pumpkin flavor had been a tad stronger. The melting maple butter was irresistible.

The fried green tomatoes with buttermilk lime dressing and basil were also a great choice for an appetizer. They were light and the basil was a nice touch.

Each of the platters came with a choice of two sides and hush puppies.

This fried chicken was amazing! That's a real welcome to the South. The meat was tender and juicy and the breading so deliciously seasoned that I wanted to eat every crispy bit that had fallen off rather than discarding them as just extra calories. The black eyed peas with thick chunks of ham and the collard greens were both good, classic sides.

The pulled pork, oddly enough for a place specializing in whole-hog barbecue, was the most lackluster dish we had. The pork was dry and nothing special. The barbecue sauce comes on every table and you add it as you wish — a vinegary bottle for Eastern Carolina style and a tangier, tomato-based bottle for Western Carolina style. I liked both. The potato salad  and fried okra were worthwhile.

I loved the Carolina spare ribs, "more bone, more flavor" according to the menu. There was a substantial amount of meat on the bones so that a half rack didn't seem too skimpy. The rich green bean casserole was a special side of the day. The mac and cheese was more creamy than cheesy, but still good.

This was a good first food stop in North Carolina that made me even more excited for what was to come.


  1. Anonymous9:51 AM

    These pics made my mouth water. That pumpkin skillet cornbread and the fried green tomatoes look awesome. Do you think you'll ever hunt down some of these restaurants' recipes and post them for readers? Just a thought.

  2. Anonymous11:01 AM

    the fried green tomatoes look divine! who took that lovely picture?!?