Thursday, June 03, 2010
I have driven down I40 for years now, but I've never stopped off in Mebane (meh-ban) to check out A & M Grill which is actually a North Carolina wood burning barbeuce joint. I haven't been avoiding it at all - no way - just never seems to be the exit at meal time.
This week, I took my son up to Chapel Hill which is only a half hour or so beyond Mebane to his new apartment and his summer job, and we planned our time around getting to the Mebane exit for lunch. We are, after all, a BBQ family, and it's a darn shame to miss a wood burner (barbeuce place that cooks over wood) especially when it's not all that far away.
A & M is off I40 exit 153 with a left turn on NC 119 if you are headed east on 40. Not sure on the flip side. You go about 3 miles and turn right on US 70, and then the barbecue place is on the left around a half mile. So, it is not far off the main road if you are traveling I40.
Now, you could see A & M was not a fancy place from the outside, and it was the same inside. Frankly, be quite suspect it you go to a place that adveritises barbecue in NC and looks too uptown. You are probably going to get electric smoked barbecue or even worse gas or electric smothered in liquid smoke sauce. I'm not a picky eater, but that just gags me.
A & M Grill Barbecue did not have the kitche decor that we get with most barbecue joints here in North Carolina. There were no deer heads or plasic pigs and such. If I had not smelled the smoke in the air, I would have guessed fish camp (fish restaurant - NC). They had dark blue on the top of the walls and tables with blue pattern wipe off tablecloths. It was homey and worked as a barbecue joint, but the wife must not have let the owner (if the owner is a man) hang up all his stuff all over like many of the NC BBQ restaurants.
You had a few choices on the menu. I think there did have fried fish and burgers and a couple of things, but I do not hunt up barbeuce joints to eat anything other than barbecue.
They also had specials every day, and Tuesday was a 2 sandwich with tea (sweet of course) for $3.95. Now, that's darn cheap. I would not cook pork for hours and sell it for that, but they did have that nice special. So, I got that. And, my son got the barbecue plate with two sides.
One thing that was odd to me was that slaw would be a side with the plate but came on the sandwiches automatically. We are not a slaw family, and I just know someone is gonna take our Southern cards away some day over it. So, I just did a "hold the slaw," and the kid got French fries (like always) but also fried okra which he shared with me - the big fried okra fan. Since I gave him my second sandwich, that was a good swap off.
You can see a barbecue plate here.
There is the smoked pork barbecue with sauce. They sauce that in the kitchen rather than at the table. Beware the bottle of red stuff on the table is ketchup which I hope you do not slop on your barbecue. The meat was good and smoky, and the sauce was quite tangy with vinegar but heavier on the red (tomato) than I'm used to. I prefer that on the table and to taste.
The fries were basic thick cut steak fries and hot, so they were fine. The oil was clean, so they were not greasy. No seasonings. Good basic fries.
The fried okra was very good. Some of it isn't. They do okra well at A&M Barbecue, and I appreciate it. The man next to our table (a regular who the waitress called by name) asked if we liked the okra and said it was his favorite. I told him it was very good, and it was.
My son enjoyed the heck out of his last meal before back to his college town where he does not eat so well. He lost 40 lbs the first year with the cafeteria, and he was not a big kid to start with. He is in an apartment now, and I hope he uses my recipes and also some of the good places to eat I've found near UNC like A&M in Mebane.
The barbecue was a little different from our piedmont Lexington style barbecue with a bit more red or tomoato in there, but it was really good and had that nice smoked flavor. Also, the staff at A&M were very nice as well as the locals eating there. So, it was a relaxed and fun lunch before I took the kid back for the summer, and with my extra sandwich to eat, he had enough for a carry out box on his full barbecue plate for dinner. So, I know he ate good twice that day at least.