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Friday, December 23, 2011

Odds and Ends: Bone-In Artisan Barbecue on Wheel's Buffet

Heading into Bone-In Artisan Barbecue's buffet, I knew I was in store for something delicious and wonderful with all the hype surrounding it, but I was in no way prepared to discover the awesome insanity that laid ahead. For $12, a mere $3-4 more then your average Bone-In meal, you not only get a full-on assault of their usual menu, but also a plethora of amazing eats and surprises that looks subtle at first glance, but explodes at first bite with bursts of creativity.

Take their mac and cheese for instance. A traditional looking pile of cheesy goodness at first site, a spoonful reveals the amazing Bone-In twist at the bottom - hoisin barbecue, by the heap. The combination of the familiar mac and cheese (which is packed with a variety of cheeses, including blue which is a nice touch) and the smoky barbecue is both amazing and sinister, a force to be reckoned with.

Hog seems to find it's way into most dishes for that matter, whether it's in their meaty hash, their succotash and collards, or in their zany bacon pimento cheese. They also have a pretty wicked lima bean and grape tomato dish that looks bright and innocent on the surface, but is packed with an incredible meaty flavor that would make even the most timid of vegetable eaters want extra. For those looking for a brief intermission, a nice salad of mixed local greens and some pretty darn special mashed sweet potatoes on the side helps keep things going.

And then there's the meats. Their barbecue admittedly somewhat falters in the face of Columbia's best for me. Little Pig's and other South Carolina barbecue joints have a slight edge with their super tender hog and classic South Carolina sauces. Bone-In's secret weapon though is in their ability to rift some pretty edgy concoctions, for me best of all being their sriracha fried chicken; a super moist, flavor bursting hunk of chicken that's just flat out delicious. Not spicy like you'd think something doused in sriracha batter might be, but really spot on and juicy all the way to the bone. A must have.

Desert presents itself in a big way, first with the oh-so-amazing blueberry cobbler. Words fail me on describing how good this is, you just have to be there. The choice of cookie for the day, perhaps not-so-innocent at first glance, was definitely not innocent at first bite either. The kitchen sink of cookies, a brownie blasted concoction filled with everything including macadamia nuts, white and semi-sweet chocolate chips, and some marshmallow-y thing. If you dislike any one of these things, you're still likely be in love with one of these chocolate bombs. Between the chocolate bomb and berry cobbler, it's a heck of a finish to a devastatingly good lunch experience. Make sure you hit up Bone-In on their twitter or facebook to find out when the next buffet is coming to the Apple to get a bite of what may be Cola's best lunch.

Bone-In Artisan Barbecue on Wheels on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Chew on This: "The Jamaican" at The Other Store in Columbia, SC

Tucked away in the back of an old gas station in Forest Acres are some of the best sandwiches in the city, including this sweet and spicy shrimp and chicken sandwich. Piled high on The Other Store's wonderfully soft and chewy sub, it's a surprisingly damn good bite you'll want to check out for lunch while admiring the unusual location. The chicken is tender and well seasoned, and the shrimp is nice and fresh, a great marriage with all the spices packed in. If you can grab the potato salad, do it, but their pasta salad is just as good along with their fruit cup with homemade yogurt drizzled on top.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Odds and Ends: Brunch at Tipsy Teapot in Greenville, NC

Brunch, I hear among chefs is one of the most disliked things a line cook could possibly ever want to do. After a busy day of orders on Saturday night, the last thing that most would want to do with their time is make hollandaise sauce for Benedict eggs or send out fifty omelets early on a Sunday morning. Though the food can be great, even spectacular some places, brunch in reality is generally just a fancy offshoot of what most restaurants do flat out better at any other time of the week.

With that in mind, it is awfully nice to have a place like Tipsy Teapot, who is not really known for being a restaurant location as much as it is a tea shop, and get a really lovingly crafted brunch from scratch, buffet style at that. The fact that on most occasions it is only on the second Sunday of the month makes it an even more sought out meal during the East Carolina school year, a genuinely pleasant event to look forward to and enjoy in a town where few food events tend to go down.

The brunch buffet at Tipsy is somewhat modest, but genuine. Ham, bacon, sausage, eggs scrambled and in a quiche are there along with a few variations on potatoes and a roasted vegetable dish or two. Best of all in the hot section may be the shrimp and grits, a cheesy, creamy, slightly tangy and spicy pile of love that magically brings everything together and makes it all wonderful. Shrimp and grits is hard to find made well and for an affordable price in Greenville, so to have all you can handle for brunch once a month is quite a lovely thing. If one is lucky, they may also find some of Tipsy's special oatmeal, a sweet and cinnamon-y blend that is too die for.

On the pastry side of the counter on the opposite end you can find some real gems including the lightest, fluffiest little muffins you'll ever see and some seriously addicting sweet treats that you'll find yourself quickly piling onto your plate at first sight. Make sure you save room for their trifle though, a sweet and succulent tray of strawberries, cream and cake that is worth going back for second and thirds. Round that out with Tipsy's assortment of tea (usually black current and jasmine) or coffee and you'll find yourself spending a very nice early Sunday afternoon filling up on arguably Greenville's best brunch. If you find yourself free in the Greenville area during the second Sunday of the month, I couldn't think of a better way to spend it then eating yourself silly at Tipsy Teapot.

Acasia's Tipsy Teapot on Urbanspoon

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Greenville (NC) Eats: Coffee Shack

Tucked away in its
own parallel universe
between Greenville and Winterville, the Coffee Shack is a charming and spacious getaway from the East Carolina University life.
Featuring a small array of sandwiches and deserts, it isn't by any means a giant culinary monster worth jumping into, but as a coffee and desert shop it has it's redeeming qualities that keep it in competition with the much-talked about Scullery in the heart of Greenville.

So... I don't like the sandwiches at Coffee Shack. I hate to be so forward, but it's the honest truth. The sandwiches in principle, like the spicy slider or various panini's, sound enticing, but none of them have been a memorable experience to my knowledge. The slider was kind of this thin, chewy flatbread thing with some overly cooked cheese. The panini's fair slightly better, but usually don't do much for this eater. Their sides are better and more flavorful, but Coffee Shack has other more important offerings to digest for those looking for a small bite, namely the oh-so-sinister line of rotating deserts.

Packed into the cabinet next to the register and the counter in front of the coffee are Coffee Shack's creations. You'll regularly find cupcakes, muffins, and danishes in the glass cabinet, all of which are fine and reliable for a mid-paper break, but on the counter is exciting stuff where their pies and cakes tend to be. With the holiday season recently, they've had a long line of pecan and pumpkin pies, sometimes even both as seen on the left with the "why did I never think of this creation" known as the pumpkin pie with pecan crumble. Topped with a cool dollop of whip cream, it's a lovely way to spend a part of the day. Other pies featured recently include an espresso chocolate pecan pie and deep dish chocolate pecan pie, and more recently a host of cinnamon rolls such as the "chocolate, chocolate cinnamon roll" has made its way to their counter.

Compared to the Scullery, I would say that Coffee Shack trails a bit behind in terms of food and even coffee itself, which doesn't have the kick and quality you'd expect from a coffee shop. The latte's are a bit of a savior though, make sure you are on the lookout for their twisted holiday twists for some devilish drinks. Overall, there's much more refinement in Greenville's Scullery and a host of more exciting eats offered there daily, but for students or anyone looking for a place to work and enjoy some desert in Greenville, I would put the Shack just a notch above the Scullery who just doesn't measure up in terms of baked goods. The Coffee Shack space itself is larger and contains a variety of areas suited to a variety of needs, including a private room often used for small parties and events. And they have a drive-through. How awesome is that?

If you are looking for a fast and quality meal, this is not a recommended location in either Greenville or Winterville, but if you are in search of something sweet to eat and a place to kick back your feet, the Coffee Shack is a tough place to beat.

Coffee Shack on Urbanspoon