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Carolina Bar-B-Cue kinda reminds me of one of my favorite diners called “The Diner”. What it lacks in originality of name, it makes up for in an overall spirit that one can call home. There are gastronomic destinations and then there are places you discover on your journeys that you pine dearly that they would be in your neighborhood. Carolina BBQ is certainly part of the latter.
New Ellenton was en route to Georgia and given that it’s been around since 1968 I really needed to give it a shot. It’s not a very impressive spot. The buffet is very small and they don’t really do a la carte items. I normally don’t like buffets but choice it rather than debate the people at the counter. The meal was definitely home cooking at its best. Golf ball sized hush puppies are of the corn muffin donut style. They had these fair interesting sweet potato “tater tots”. Mac & Cheese and the de rigor Carolina hash rounded out my meal.
As is common in South Carolina, with it’s 4 sauce tradition, you can choose between either a red sauce, a vinegar sauce, or 3 different mustard sauces (plain, spicy, and honey). If there was a place I’d introduce someone to the mustard sauce, this would be it. It’s not very pungent and wouldn’t offend most folks. Let’s be honest, for most people the mustard sauce is an acquired taste. What’s funny is the complaint is often that it hides the taste of the pork which is odd given that few have any problem with the sweet sticky molasses based sauces out of Kansas City. Here the pork really stands up to the mustard sauce and it was very enjoyable.
What’s interesting about their pork is that there’s no wood cooking it. They’re an all charcoal establishment. Normally this would be a problem for me but the pork really was very tasty.I asked to see the pit area and it was completely off limits. The pitmaster seemed to be the butt of everyone’s jokes there and they assured me that he was indeed a character and needed to be met. I don’t recall his name but his photo is up top. He wasn’t into saying much but you could gather by the staff in general that this ole boy was pretty eccentric when the customers aren’t around.
As with any southern buffet, dessert is provided. I’ve effectively skipped desserts on my bbq tours but it was a long drive and I had a long drive ahead of me. Peach cobbler, chocolate pudding, and banana pudding. I simply couldn’t say no.
Some shots below and, as always, click the top link for all the photos.