We first went to Home Team right after they opened, which was probably five or six years ago. We weren't impressed and haven't been back since. Friends said the recipes had been tweaked, and after the recent USA Today accolades we decided to give them a second try.
I ordered a half rack of ribs with mac and cheese and butter beans. The first surprise was when I cut into the ribs and discovered they were spare ribs, not back ribs. That was my own mistake for not asking so I sucked it up. The second surprise was when I found the membrane had been left on the back of the ribs. When cooked it turns into a plastic-like sheet that is disgusting to eat and difficult to remove, so most places do it before cooking. I picked off as much as I could.
Once I got past those two issues I was pleased to find the ribs were cooked very well. They had a nice crust on the outside, an obvious smoke ring, and the texture was excellent. They just didn't have any flavor. There was a bare hint of smoke and the crust on the outside had no obvious seasoning. It was tasty in a roasted pork kind of way, but not at all satisfying in an "I want bbq ribs" kind of way. Which is why I was there, so it was really disappointing.
I thought I could salvage it with some sauce. I'm not a fan of the vinegar and chili flake mixture so I skipped that and started with the Red Sauce. It tasted like a vinegar sauce with some ketchup added, but vinegar was the dominant flavor. I switched to the Sweet Red sauce. Basically it was the Red sauce with slightly less vinegar and more sugar. Finally I gave the Mustard Sauce a go. There was a pungent mustard powder flavor and a very strong vinegar component, which was followed by a very sweet honey-like flavor. None of the sauces worked for me, either being overly vinegary or overly sweet.
The macaroni for the mac and cheese was cooked perfectly. It was in a very watery, salty, white sauce that tasted vaguely cheesy. It wasn't bad but it wasn't appealing. The butter beans were also cooked nicely but they were really salty.
Overall everything was cooked well but for me the flavors were way off. All the sauces tasted too strongly of vinegar or were too sweet and the sides were extremely salty. That was how I felt when they first opened, and that's how it still is.
Nanobeerz - you are correct regarding Smoky Oak's food. It is poor - pretty much everything on the menu is underwhelming. Among other mistakes: they use far too much sugar in all their cornbread, batter, etc.
The BBQ is poor to put it mildly.
But I find their beer selection pretty good - you kind of need to know which of the taps are new and which ones are old. But they have a nice selection of tall boy bottles too - things like Rogue Chocolate Stout, etc.
This pretty much sums up their food:
Last few times I have been to Smoky Oak to have a beer with friends, I stopped at Barberito's for a burrito first.
Barbecue should stand on its own with seasoning/dry rub etc. It should not need to be lathered in sauce in order to get some seasoning. This is where Smokey oak fails. The meat on its own is tender, but flavorless. The bar, staff, and other food choices are good--the beer selection is fantastic---we go because we live close by. But the best bbq is in tennessee/kentucky.
Home team's ok, it has good bands and the staff is friendly and efficient but:
1. Food: Doesn't come even close to Smokey Oak, in quality, quantity, or price.
2. Parking: Not enough, and your life is in danger in that back parking lot.
3. Prices: Charges admission, and too much for drinks.
4. But worst of all, this place is just not comfortable at all- the metal back chairs hurt before too long, and you can only see the bands from a few seats around the bar. Also, they tend to leave the doors open so the poison from the nicotine addicts gets in.
I'll go there if somebody I want to see is playing, but I usually don't stay very long.
I don't do bad reviews. Not my bag. But, in this case, I need to share my experience from Saturday, maybe in search of some corroboration, or direction on whether to go back?
Good stuff first - Spinach & artichoke dip app was great. The pita chips, really freshly fried full-on pita wedges, slightly crispy on the outside & warm on the inside, were fantastic. Mac & cheese was also no slouch, mainly because they are generous w/ the cheese.
Unfortunately, the bad stuff is related to the 2 things I thought this place was known for: BBQ and beer.
Beer first. The menu had a few glaring errors, spelling or ABV-related, but that's OK, I'm used to it and can forgive easily. So I ordered a Big Eye IPA. I know, and love, this beer well. At $5.75/pint, it's right in line w/ other places in Charleston that put it on tap, no problem there. The problem was the beer was gross. Through some confluence of really old (not rotated) beer, and maybe a dirty line, they managed to turn one of my favorite IPAs into something barely drinkable. With 41 taps and a full room with only a handful of craft drinkers, you can't expect fast enough rotation to keep every pour fresh. That said, for almost $6, I want my Big Eye to taste like Big Eye, not like 6-month old Harpoon.
BBQ. Well, I just don't get it. My pulled pork was dry. Teeth-stickingly dry. Like the consistency of an overcooked turkey dry. I fully understand the "naked" concept, but good lord man, that doesn't mean you have to overcook the sh!t out of the pork, does it? That's OK, the sauce will save it, right? Every sauce, save the vinegar-pepper (a bottle of vinegar w/ one pepper in it), looked and tasted like it was 75% high fructose corn syrup. Cloyingly sweet, from the mustard base to the chef's red to the chiptole to the unlabelled one. This much sugar is not necessary in BBQ sauce, and it made them all taste basically the same. I did not sign up for pork-kindling with flavored syrups, but that's basically what I got.
I wanted to love this place. I'd been caught in the rainstorm on Folly. I was chilly, I was tired, and I was ravenously hungry. I wanted killer BBQ, and I wanted to gush about it afterwards. Alas, it was not to be.
Did I order the wrong thing? Is there another dish they have I should try? I'm open to suggestions. Barring that, looks like my visits will continue to be limited to their beer fests (which are great, btw).
Overrated BBQ joint, feeds on naive tourists who have no clue they are about to be ripped off. The food isn't bad, but if you are expecting a good southern BBQ at an affordable price you will be rudely awoken. Best bet for BBQ: leave the peninsula.
I was there a couple of weeks ago and after reading several of the reviews it seems that I am not the only one whose brisket came out extremely soggy with a lot of fat on it. I got the sandwich and my bread was so wet I couldn't even eat it and the brisket I had to use a knife and fork to trim off all of the fat. Definitely do not get the brisket. Also, the side of hash is not good at all, I wouldn't even classify that as hash.
The jv team of coyote ugly girls. Most of the girls can't dance and they make up for their lack of looks (that's what this bar is supposed to be about right?) by showing more skin. If you are hot, you are hot and lack of clothes is not going to change it. Should consider hiring some A-team hotties, if they are not qualified, train them. Anything would be better than what they got (for the majority of them working there). Trying to get drinks there is a feat in itself.
Great atmosphere for a neighborhood joint. Long way to go to attract off-islanders. My most recent visit uncovered the fact that Country Crock is often substituted for butter by the front staff. Boo! Terrific onion rings. I have given up trying to get a cooked to order hamburger. If I liked Q maybe I would stand a better chance of having a decent meal.
Upside: Pork and chicken were both delicious. Mac and cheese is very different with a vinegary tang - but very good. Super cold beer hit the spot.
Downside: Once I got my food and initial beer I was pretty much ignored by the staff. Had to go to the bar and get my own beer and then had to go up to get a take out box since everyone seemed to be focused on talking with their friends, not catering to the customers.
There were approx. 12 people at the restaurant at the time.
Great food, crappy service.
The Cracker Barrel of BBQ joints. Better suited for some lonely exit on I-95, probably near Lumberton, NC.
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