Wednesday, April 27, 2016
Nick's Original Bar-B-Q (Charleston, SC)
I always like to find new barbecue joints to try when we're on vacation. My wife, not so much. Of all the purveyors of smoked meat to be found in Charleston, South Carolina, Nick's Original Bar-B-Q offered the best mix for both of us: barbecue for me, and plenty of burgers, sandwiches, salads, and the like for the Mrs. This place is a member of the Jim 'n Nick's barbecue family, so I had high expectations.
I really liked the open floor plan at Nick's. They had great music pumping to liven things up, and I'm sure the fully-stocked bar would be put to good use as the day progressed. The decor was an eclectic mix of rustic and vintage, which somehow gave the place a modern feel.
To warm up my palate, I started with an order of the Heavenly Deviled Eggs, only partially because of the play on words.
The deviled eggs were loaded with smoked paprika and just the right amount of salt, which added a nice savoriness to the slightly sweet mixture. I also enjoyed the crunch from the diced pickles. Three eggs were probably enough, but I'm sure I could have eaten at least a baker's dozen.
Nick's has an enormous 4 Meat Combo on the menu, and at only $19.00 it's a heck of a deal. My wife/primary care physician strongly suggested that I settle for a trio, but I like to live dangerously. I ordered this four-meat behemoth with pulled pork, brisket, smoked wings, and ribs (an extra $2.00, totally worth it). For my sides, I picked potato salad and fried green tomatoes.
The light cornmeal batter was a nice coating for the tart tomatoes. They were a little salty, but I like a bunch of sodium in my diet anyway. The potato salad was sweet at first bite, followed by a sneaky spiciness. It had just enough mustard to make things interesting without being overpowering.
I was sad to find my brisket chopped, although the flavors more than made up for the presentation. The well-rendered fat had smoked up quite a bit of smoke, and the delicious bark was a pleasure to eat as well. Nick's spicy barbecue sauce was a nice addition, but didn't detract from the natural beefiness.
Truth be told, I was expecting plain smoked wings rather than buffalo wings, but these were tasty enough to counteract my flawed expectations. The chicken was very tender and incredibly juicy, and the crisp skin was just glorious. I noticed a mild smokiness, at least best I could tell through the buffalo sauce. Even the mild wings were fairly spicy, so I'm glad I didn't opt for hot wings.
It was difficult to find any smoke in the pork, and it was also a touch too dry. There was only a mild flavor to the meat, so their tomato-based sauce was definitely necessary to add a little depth of flavor. Overall the pork was ok, but not that great.
The huge, extra-meaty spare ribs looked rather menacing on the plate. They had an exceptional, well-seasoned crust, and there was a great smokiness throughout. Best of all, the juicy pork ribs weren't served drowning in sauce, letting the meat stand on its own. These were easily the best part of my meal.
Mediocre pulled pork aside, Nick's Original Bar-B-Q was a great pick for lunch, and its downtown Charleston location was ideal for our itinerary.
Nick's Original Bar-B-Q
288 King St
Charleston, SC 29401