Big Joe's BBQ - Beaufort, South Carolina
Made the hour and a half drive from Mt. Pleasant to Beaufort simply to have bbq at Big Joe's. I'd been there before, but only once and it had been quite a while. Was in a bbq mood so we headed south.
Big Joe's is a cool little place located on the corner of a gas station. Once inside you are greated by an "outdoor" motif. The walls are covered with hunting/fishing pictures as well as stuffed deer and ducks. The table tops are also covered with pictures of hunting/fishing scenes.
The menu is short, but offers good variety. I like bbq joints that have a short menu. Too much and it just becomes too "restauranty" if you know what I mean. Do a few things and do them well...that's my motto.
To make a long story short we ordered a rib sandwich with potato salad and a combo plate with pork and beef. The combo plate had bbq beans and the requisite South Carolina hash & rice for sides.
Both plates had good amounts of food. The rib sandwich consisted of three LARGE bones from a spare rib...and untrimmed spare rib (meaning you got all the extra meat that makes up the brisket portion of the rack...there's some cartilage there, but plenty of meat around it). There were also two big Texas toast size pieces of buttered garlic toast to make up the "sandwich". The ribs were tasty, but a little light on seasoning as well as smoke. Big Joe's smokes their meat with hickory (in a Southern Pride pit), but the smoke isn't heavy at all...actually it's barely there, but it IS there. The ribs had a slight celery taste leading me to believe they are seasoned with celery salt. They were also pretty heavily seasoned with coarse black pepper. They were slightly dry, but that's only because they appeared to have been sitting around all day. The sauces helped them out alot. I'd rate them about a solid 7 on a scale of 1-10.
The combo plate had sliced pork and sliced beef. The pork seemed to be from the ham of the animal as it was very lean, white, and ever so slightly dry. There was a smoke ring, but like the ribs the smoke flavor was very, VERY light. It didn't seem as thought the pork was seasoned at all, but that's probably because ham's are pretty well covered with skin and you can't really season the meat. The beef was not brisket...but I wasn't expecting brisket so all is good. Actually, the beef slices tasted just like a good pot roast. I would imagine they are using something along the lines of a chuck roast. Again, seasoning and smoke were nearly non-existent. I was happy with the beef (even though I didn't consider it bbq) as I love a good pot roast. All I was missing was the little potatoes, onions, carrots, and gravy! The sauces did, however, make it taste somewhat like bbq. The combo plate came with two Texas toast sized pieces of bread, same as the rib sandwich. On a scale of 1-10 I'd rate the pork a 6 and the beef a 7. The pork gets a 6 simply because I'm not a fan of hams. You seem to get that alot in South Carolina...hams that is. The pork was not bad, just not what I look for in bbq. The beef gets a slightly higher score than the pork because it really would make a nice pot roast. The flavor was good...it just wasn't bbq.
So what about those sauces that kept the food tasting nice? There were four sauces to choose from. One was a "classic" mustard sauce that was ok. Another was a "hot" mustard sauce that seemed to have an abundance of black pepper. The other two sauces had a hint of smoke in them. One was a red sauce that had a good bit of tamarind (or Worcestershire), and the other was an orangy/yellow sauce that might contain a good bit of mayo (not sure). These latter two sauces are what we ate as they were the best on the table. All the sauces were thick. Major flavors would be sweet & sour. None of the sauces were hot or in the least bit spicy.
The potato salad reminded me of what you'd use for twice baked/stuffed potatoes. I tasted like a mix of sour creme (probably some mayo also), chive, and bacon. It was good, but I'd rather have it as a twice backed potato with some cheese melted on top. Rating for this, in terms of how well it went with my bbq, would be a 6. Good, but not a bbq side item in my opinion.
The bbq beans were somewhat standard...beans from a can doctored up with extra ingredients. There was a small bit of meat in there as well as some half cooked onions. Semi-raw onions are not my favorite thing for baked beans. Simply because of my own personal taste (and dislike for the raw onion taste) I'd rate the beans at a 6.
The hash was pretty decent. Not the best I've had and certainly not the worst. I'd rate the hash 7 on a scale of 1-10.
The sweet tea was pretty sweet...just like I like it.
All in all, Big Joe's BBQ offers some pretty good groceries. Nothing we ate was bad, and we considered most everything good. The meat could be seasoned better and the smoke could play a bigger role. Big Joe's is certainly better than most of the bbq joints we've visited around the Charleston area. We go down to Beaufort every few weeks and we'll certainly be eating more bbq from Big Joe's.