Purcellville is a nice town of 10,000 in Loudoun County, in the outer Washington suburbs, well past Dulles Airport. It’s in a lovely area of Virginia, and Purcellville enjoys the benefits of the growth of the Dulles tech corridor without being overwhelmed by it. Best of all, Purcellville is the home of Monk’s BBQ, which I can certify is a Campaign for Real Barbecue producer of True ‘Cue, barbecue cooked only with wood. And Monk’s serves good barbecue.
Nancy and I went there on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Traffic was light, so it was only a little over an hour drive, and a nice drive at that. We drove up, the only car that didn’t have a Christmas tree on the roof. Monk’s looked good. Four big smokers, fired by oak with some hickory, and “T”, here finishing a cheeseburger, paying close attention to them.
Cooked with wood only.
Isn’t that pretty?
There are two big arches outside, one of which was covered by an enclosed tent. It’s probably great in the summer. We walked in past what I think was a Christmas tree
but may have been a bottle tree to keep the haints away. We checked out the menu while we waited in line to order. Nancy decided on a kids meal with chicken and slaw.
and I ordered a quarter pound each of pork and brisket, and a Texas Hot Link — the sausage — and I threw in some collards and macaroni and cheese.
First, Nancy’s chicken was really good. She loved it. I got a taste and it had picked up a good smoke flavor. You’d have to do some serious traveling to get better chicken. The slaw was both sweet and tart, with a hit of sweetness at first and then a big vinegar taste.
My pork was very good, the best I’ve had in Northern Virginia so far. It had a good pork flavor and that light smoke flavor that’s characteristic of oak. Moist and tender, it was far above the Washington area average. The brisket had a good flavor, the flavor of smoke and beef, but it had that tendency to dryness that is characteristic of lean brisket. Not bad, but not great. The sausage, on the other hand, was not only big, but had an excellent flavor. It was beefy, spicy but not really hot, and had a good touch of garlic. And it was a bargain at $5.99.
The collards were pretty good, but the macaroni and cheese was memorable — cavatappi with a super-creamy smoked Gouda sauce. It had a very nice flavor and a good texture.
One huge plus of Monk’s is that all of the meats come without sauce. You’re tasting meat, not sauce. I really like that. So many places ruin the meat by drowning it in sauce. Pearce’s Pitt and Pappy’s come to mind. At Monk’s, you add the amount and type of sauce you like.
The sauces at Monk’s are made fresh each week from local ingredients including, in some cases, local beer, wine, and whiskey. (The two on the left are Blackberry Whiskey and Raspberry Chipotle Merlot.) You can see them hanging there. You squeeze the bottom part, as if milking a cow, into small containers.
The sauces vary a lot. The Stout sauce is an inoffensive sweet sauce. (I’m a vinegar and pepper fan.). The Angry Texan sauce is actually pretty peace loving. It’s not as sweet as the Stout, but has more character. The Carolina Mustard is sugary. The best of the lot for my money is the White Sauce, a very good blend of vinegar, horseradish, mayonnaise, and pepper. It improves everything it touches.
Oh, I forgot. They have a cornbread made with custard that adorned each plate. It arrives as a thin layer of cornbread topping an interesting custard-cornbread mix. This is certainly not standard cornbread, much less classic cornbread (it has sugar and is made without bacon grease), but , as I say, it’s interesting and pretty darn tasty.
Monk’s also has a very active live music calendar at night and a big long bar. It seems like a fun place for folks who live closer than I.
I’m eager to get back to Monk’s for another lunch, although the hour-plus drive (in good conditions) is daunting. But it’s a nice drive. Hop in your car and try it.
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