Barbeque Exchange - Gordonsville, VA
The Charlottesville area has a few bbq places but nothing that matches what we've had in more southern states like NC, TN, SC, etc. So when we heard so much chatter about this little place in Gordonsville, we had to check it out. This weekend we finally did. We ordered ribs, brisket, belly, collards and mac n cheese.
Ribs: fall off the bone and well spiced with their house dry rub. The meat had a good smoke to it. They don't sauce their ribs and instead leave a number of sauces on the table so the diner can pick and choose what they want. I tried them all but didn't put them on the ribs since they didn't need it.
Brisket: this is where the sauces came in handy. The meat itself was fairly tender but even though there appeared to be a smoke ring there wasn't much discernable flavor, smoke or otherwise. Of the sauces, their spicy was the best followed by their Carolina in my opinion. Just wish the brisket could have stood on its own.
Belly: we'd never had pork belly prepared this way. Every other time we'd eaten it, it was at a higher end restaurant with sauce, soft and delicate. The belly at this place was totally different and delicious! It seemed like they just cut thick strips like really thick bacon, rubbed them with their house rub and smoked it. It came out hot and stiff like bacon, but when I bit into it it just melted in my mouth. They give you 3-4 big strips which is enough for two people. If I'd eaten the full portion it might have been too rich and would have kept me from finishing my ribs!
Collards and Mac: both were good though not the best I've had. I was happy that they appeared to use some real cheese as opposed to just velveeta.I'd get the collards again but skip the mac in favor of more meat!
I only made it there once while living near Gordonsville, but I really enjoyed it. I just got a basic pulled pork sandwich, but the meat was AMAZING. It didn't even need any of the sauces!
I did still use the sauce, of course. They were all great as well.
The only thing I was bummed about was my side salad. I wasn't expecting anything incredible, but I'm always sad to get something that's obviously been dumped out of a bag.
I'll have to get back there soon to try the ribs and pork belly.
Saturday January 11, 2014
We weren't very pleased this time. My fiance and I split a four-meat BBQ Lover's plate with pulled pork, ribs, belly, and brisket.
Pulled pork - I wasn't as wowed this time as I was before. The texture was fine, but there wasn't much flavor to it.
Ribs - Not particularly tender, and quite dry. I might even go so far as to call them tough, actually. I had to smother them in Colonel Bacon. (Fiance had been warned about them from his foreman, who does barbecue on the side, but I wanted to try them anyway.)
Belly - We both liked this, he more than I. Nice and crispy. This was the only one I didn't need any sauce on.
Brisket - Tougher than I was expecting (or chewier might be the right word) but I don't have anything particularly negative to say about it. It was okay, but no something I would go out of my way for.
The collards were okay. They tasted like... collards. :p Texture was good, but fiance wanted them spicier. I found the macaroni and cheese to be quite bland.
Fries were a winner! :D
TL;DR - I was disappointed by everything but the belly. I don't think we'll be making that trip again.
The Pork Belly is definitely one of my favorites of the meats. Glad other people are trying it!
I've heard good things about his house made bacon, but I haven't made it up recently to try anything with it.
I'd recommend that people try stepping beyond the standard BBQ sides as well and go for some of his amazing pickles. Pickled Green Tomatoes, Pickled Hot Habenero Peppers, or his mustard or garlic traditional pickles. He does an awful lot of variety and they are happy to do half size sides for dining in or take out. While I love his collard greens (tip: get extra carolina sauce and put it in with them) I also think people reach for the baked beans, slaw or mac and miss out.