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Saturday, May 7, 2016
Carl's Perfect Pig Bar-B-Que & Grill (White Bluff, TN)
It's often difficult for me to attempt a barbecue excursion during the week, so weekends offer the perfect opportunity to explore some of the more out-of-the-way joints. At nearly an hour's drive from my side of Nashville, Carl's Perfect Pig fit that description nicely. Over the river and through the woods, in search of barbecue I went.
This place has a distinct "More coffee, hun?" country diner feel to it, with high-back wooden booths and tables that were probably built by hand nearby. Their hodgepodge decor includes everything from framed newspaper articles and homemade Father's Day gifts to signed photos of Emeril Lagasse and Pat Sajak. The entire interior is painted pink and white as an homage to pigs everywhere. Well, at least they've got a consistent theme going. I could see Carl himself hard at work back in the kitchen, and I appreciated his hands-on leadership style.
Pork is unsurprisingly the meat of choice at Carl's Perfect Pig. Not being one to rock the boat, I ordered one of their Combo Plates. Fortunately for me, today they had a special pulled pork (which they simply call "bar-b-que") and ribs sampler, which was half the price of their full-size combo and still came with a ton of food. Their combos are all paired with a side of fries, but I humbly requested my potatoes in salad form instead.
Carl's potato salad had a pleasant mustardy zip and a nice acidity, with an ever-so-slight spiciness. I also liked the crunch of the pickles and pimentos, which added to the overall flavor as much as it did the texture.
The big heap of pulled pork was much more than I expected for a sampler. I found each bite tender and really juicy. It was just salty enough to be interesting, with hints of vinegar here and there. There was also a good smoke level, especially in the smoke-kissed pieces of bark mixed throughout.
Despite the sampler's advertised third-rack, I ended up with a half-rack of ribs. I certainly wasn't going to scoff at that. These bad boys were big and meaty, with a beautifully charred, peppered crust. The ribs were even juicier than the pulled pork, and the meat pulled away cleanly. Carl's semisweet honey-based glaze was a perfect contrast to the savory smoke and the tasty char. These were some serious ribs.
I'm quite certain that I received a full-size combo rather than the sampler, and I'm eternally grateful for their mistake. I left Carl's Perfect Pig with a mild case of the meat sweats, but I left happy.
Carl's Perfect Pig Bar-B-Que & Grill
4991 Highway 70 E
White Bluff, TN 37187