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Jun 23, 2002 12:04 AM

The Smokey Pig in Ashland, VA--totally overrated!

  • j

The Smokey Pig in Ashland, VA, just up I-95 from us Richmonders, had been recommended highly by many people as having outstanding BBQ. With my Hound of Chow brother coming down in a few weeks who'd requested that we take him to a good Q joint, the husband and I decided to take a test lunch run up to the Pig.

It's nice enough, and easy to find. We ordered an basket of onion rings, a sliced pork platter with beans and slaw for me, and ribs, beans and slaw for the husband. The onion rings, admittedly, were excellent--beer-battered and practically greaseless. Little did we know that would be the highlight of the meal. The food wasn't horrible, mind you. Just ... bland. The pork was tender, but had no smoke flavoring whatsoever. The sauce tasted like watered-down ketchup with no spices (thank Dog for Texas Pete). The slaw and beans were okay, but nothing spectacular. The ribs looked great, but were tough and greasy--the husband could get very little meat off of them. I gave him about half my pork so he wouldn't starve. Then, because we were still hungry, we ordered dessert--apple pie for him, strawberry shortcake for me. The shortcake was two big tough flavorless biscuity pieces DROWNED in frozen strawberries and sugar syrup, with the tiniest dome of--horrors!--Cool Whip on top. The husband's pie was about 75 percent cardboard-like pastry and 25% sugary apple filling. The prices weren't bad--$30 for the two of us--but we could not understand the raves for this place.

There's nothing worse than traveling for some ostensibly good chow, only to be "rewarded" with mediocre food. That, alas, is what happened to us today. I hate when that happens ...

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  1. All I remember of Ashland was the Speed & Briscoe Truck
    Stop on I-95. My uncle used to take us there for chicken-fried steak when he was hauling for Philip-Morris. Every table had it's own telephone in the section reserved just for truckers. Made me feel like a king, back when I was ten years old.

    1 Reply
    1. re: flavrmeistr

      I, too, had heard this place was real good. I planned to stop on our way home from NJ on 1-95 but opted to stop in NC - the NC place was closed! So, now I don't feel so bad but I still have never tried either VA or NC "Q" - a void in my gourmet existance to date.

      Was considering trying C&W in Hobe Sound, but that sucker is nearly 20 miles east/northeast of any 1-95 exit so I'll do Jack's in Ft. Lauderdale again.

      Going to check out a Chinese place in Sunrise - Toa Toa. Mentioned in NewTimes Best of for 2001. Any hounds ever hear of it or been there? On Pine Island Road in Sunrise. Its about 10 years old so perhaps it can compare with Hong Kong City and Silver Pond?

    2. We finally made it to the Smokey Pig within the past year (see one of my longer posts) and you nailed it with the word "bland." 'Twas a major disappointment.

      1. The reason for Smokey Pig's inferior meat is simple. They use a commercial "smoker" to cook meat, not a real barbecue pit fired with wood coals. Many places produce this type of roast pork with good results. My taste buds tell me that The Smokey Pig, in addition to misleadingly calling what they make barbecue, simply don't do it very well. Good, REAL barbecue is extremely hard to find in Virginia. If you find yourself in the Commonwealth wanting barbecue, drive to North Carolina or even to Johnny Boy's in LaPlata, MD.

        4 Replies
        1. re: Jim

          The Pig is the third BBQ place Richmonders have recommended that turned out to be lousy (the others being the equally bland Extra Billy's and the smoked shoe leather of Bill's). There is a place in the Carytown section of Richmond called Double T's that can be pretty good, but it's a bit on the expensive side and can be hit-or-miss. Maybe I'm uttering Chowhound blasphemy, but it must be said--the best BBQ I've had in Richmond came from the Famous Dave's franchise that opened up by my house about six months ago. They smoke their meats to great advantage (juiciest brisket I've had in a while), the sauces are great (I love Devil's Spit), the prices are reasonable, the portions are humongous and the bread pudding is to die for. We've been there several times and the quality's stayed consistent. We're not big on chain restaurants, but FD was a pleasant surprise.

          1. re: Jersey Girl

            We have at least one Famous Dave's up here in Northern VA now. Time to pay them a visit. A good slab of bread puddin' may be enough to merit them some kind words on here from me. :>D

            1. re: Bob W.

              By all means, go. I consider myself a Q Hound and have made the pilgrimage to the Holy Places (Arthur Bryant's, Sonny Bryan's, McClard's, Charlie Vergos' Rendezvous ... if there's anything better than a Q Road Trip I don't know what it is!), and while I would not put FD in with that group, it's still pretty darn good Q. I'd be interested to hear your opinion.

            2. re: Jersey Girl

              FD is "okay"...for good BBQ and ribs in Richmond, Buz and Ned's on the Boulevard is head and shoulders above everyone else.

          2. I agree that Smokey Pig is over-rated. I didn't like the sauce at all. Too vinegary.

            1. Buz and Ned's is REAL BBQ! Smokey Pig - Not!