Word is that Rodney Scott, 2018 winner of the James Beard Foundation award for Best Chef in the Southeast region (GA, KY NC, SC, TN, WV), will open a place in Birmingham, according to an article in the Charleston, SC, City Paper. This is good news, of course, for people in the Birmingham area. It’s always good to have a barbecue legend open a place nearby. And it will bring a new style of barbecue to Birmingham.
Currently, Birmingham is a city of pork shoulders and pork butts cooked over hickory in brick pits, and usually served with a rough chop or sliced. Each barbecue place uses its own style of sauce. Rodney Scott cooks whole hogs a la Eastern North Carolina, although he doesn’t finely chop the meat and stir in the sauce before serving, like places in Eastern North Carolina. I hear that he pulls the meat, and you sauce it as you like with an Eastern North Carolina vinegar and pepper sauce.
I’ve never eaten at Scott’s. He has long had a ramshackle place in Hemingway, South Carolina. Hemingway is on the way to nowhere stuck among more convenient and really good barbecue places, like Shuler’s. Ellen Buchanan of the Winnsboro, South Carolina Buchanans, says that Scott’s barbecue is “outstanding.” John Spratt, a recovering Member of Congress, used to have Scott’s cater a lot of his events, and John Spratt got elected 14 times, despite being an eminently reasonable, thoughtful, and highly intelligent human being. Friends, you don’t overcome handicaps like that by serving second rate barbecue to the voters. Scott now has a second place in Charleston, South Carolina.
In other news, Home Team Barbecue, where Nancy and I stopped once while in Charleston, is setting up a second location in Columbia. It’s a good place, and you can read a review of Home Team here. I haven’t really explored the Columbia barbecue scene, but South Carolina is a good place for barbecue. Here’s a list of places the local folks say are worth driving 100 miles to try. And you can scroll way down and click on the South Carolina category of this blog, or just search “South Carolina.” Opportunity awaits.
Birmingham, by the way, already has been a big winner in terms of James Beard Awards. Frank Stitt’s flagship restaurant, the Highlands Bar and Grill, a perennial contender, was named the Outstanding Restaurant in the United States, and the Highland Grill’s pastry chef, Dolender Miles, was the Outstanding Pastry Chef in the United States. (Stitt also has Bottega, Bottega Cafe, and Chez Fon Fon, all virtually cheek by jowl with each other.) Chris Hastings, a Highlands alumnus now at Hot and Hot Fish Company, situated between Highlands and Bottega, and Ovenbird, over by Pepper Place, was selected Outstanding Chef in the South back in 2012. That’s something, since Frank Stitt, with eight previous nominations, doesn’t leave much room for others to sneak in. Chris Hastings has a great pastry chef, too.) I’ve absolutely loved the Stitt and Hastings restaurants that I’ve tried, even without ever eating a single pastry. I may change my abstemious ways.
Meanwhile, here in Washington, not one great or even good barbecue place is coming to town.