Sweatman's - It's All About the Ribs
The last time I dined at Sweatmen's Barbeque was within the year following Hurricane Hugo. That'd be 1989/1990.
Since then I have read countless odes to their smoked pork, many that proclaimed theirs the best in South Carolina. (You and I know that's silly. Who has eated it all?)
Saturday, after 15 years I returned to the famous place between Holly Hill and Eutawville, to refresh my taste buds. Arrived after 1:30 and there was a steady trickle of folks in and out, even after regular lunch hours. Selected the buffet.
As far as South Carolina BBQ buffets go, this one is sparse. They had the requisite hash, rice, pulled meat (divided by white or dark), white bread, pickles, and a couple of other items. But do not expect hush puppies or collards or any other fancy extras.
There's what all the fuss is over. While the pulled pork was very good and had a fair smoke flavor (though I found the white meat a tad dry), the ribs were worth the trip.
Meaty, tender, not too much fat; they were excellent. Yes, they were served soaked in sauce. Mustard base. But for a change that didn't bother me.
And I'm more partial to red and vinegar sauces. Or none at all.
This mustard sauce is creamy-thin with a nice balance of sweet-to-tart. It isn't thick, gooey, cloying, or overpowering. I even brought some home.
If you plan to visit, be aware that they are closed for a long vacation from mid-July through mid-August.
Why Miss Ellen of SC you must be a dear young thing. 'Cause back in the olden days when one went for BBQ at a shed or barn or sweet shop you certianly did not call it a restaurant all that was there was BBQ meat, sauce, rice, hash, slaw, pickles, sweet tea and if you were lucky banana puddin. On the picnic table was an oil cloth with a bag of light bread split in the center so that it would stand up in two halves and make a bread dispenser. Now bless your heart all these other things you mention are things that have been added in the last 30 years. Now I not saying I don't like'um but don't throw off on the man jest cause he is doing it the old timey way. And you are so right The Ribs are wonderful and I too prefer the Vinegar and Pepper Sauce to the Midlands Mustard.
re: 1 wiener hound
Young is a relative term, my dear man. Young compared to my neighbor, Miss Kitty, who sweeps her yard at midnight clad in pajamas and robe - why, yes. I am. :) Thank you.
My comment about Sweatman's buffet being "sparse" springs from many recent BBQ buffet experiences. Seems a whole lotta places want to seduce your taste buds with fried chicken, baked beans, fish stew, blah blah blah - when what you really came for was the pork - and then you discover IT was cooked with GAS!
Pulled pork and ribs (smoked), skins, rice, and hash are the stars at Sweatman's. And that's about all anybody oughta need.
re: Ellen of SC
This most recent good news sounds like the gospel of Ellen of SC. The smoke of charcoal to BBQ meat and Ribs is like the smoke of the incense taking our prayers to the Father. Miss Kitty sounds like one of our dear Southern eccentrics that only spanish moss, magnolias, and red bugs produce. I would love to meet Miss Kitty. There is an article in the CHS P&C the other day about Kitty's Fine Foods. I have not been there in years but it does not sound like it has changed abit. If you are in CHS and want a good cheap breakfast or lunch and need to run away from the high price Foo Foo Food below Calhoun St. try out Kitty's It is a working man's meat and 3 that has a loyal following from all segements of society. It is located on upper Morrison Dr. just below where it connects to Meeting St. If you can remember Fort Sumter Chevy dealership we can both take a bead on our ages. And I know a Southern gentleman should not ask the age of a lady and I did not.
I've eaten a lot of BBQ in our area and I have to say that the best I have ever had is just on the other side of the Lake in Manning. McCabe's BBQ is the real deal. It's on Hwy 521/301 North just before you get out of town. Pulled pork with vinegar sauce. The fried chicken ain't bad either.
Sweatman's was one of the featured segments on "No Reservations" last night. They smoke a whole side of a pig at a time so there's no flavor lost. It's said they're open only two days a week so they must doing something right. I hope I make it back to SC sometime in my life so I can check this place out.