Sometimes a restaurant just calls to you. It whispers sweet oinks in your ear while you’re sleeping and sculpts pig shapes in the clouds overhead. “Come, my child,” it says. “Come and sit for a spell. Take a load off. Let us fatten you up with some tender morsels of hearty saltpork.” After reading that a carefully judged BBQ competition resulted in a tie between BBQ Exchange and Blue Ridge Pig, a friend asked us what we thought about going to the latter for a small birthday party. After the oinks and clouds, it was the last sign. Just the push we needed. With the recent competition in mind, we headed out to see how our experience would match up. Not very well, in turns out.
The atmosphere of Blue Ridge Pig is everything you might want from an out-of-the-way BBQ joint. Small, rickety, rustic, lots of wood, chalkboard menu. The guys behind the counter were very accommodating of our boisterous birthday group, churning out pork ribs, pulled pork, chicken barbecue, and a turkey croissant (?) as fast as they could.
I got the ribs because everyone said that was the thing to get there. When I unwrapped the big clump of foil in front of me I was greeted by three monstrous slabs of boned meat that would have been at home on Fred Flintstone’s dinner plate. Massive. Like it had come from this thing. Unfortunately, the size was more impressive than the flavor. The skin was tough and chewy, though maybe only because there was so much of it on such a big bone, and the character of the BBQ flavoring was too much sweet and not enough spicy smoke. The pulled pork was okay, but most of us agreed that the sauce, and not the quality of meat, was the limiting factor. If you’re a fan of the sweet fragrant sauce you’re likely a huge fan of BRP. Unfortunately, at least half of us weren’t in this camp.
The potato salad, on the other hand, is the best we’ve had in recent history – it’s all about the dill – and the porky baked beans were exuberantly delicious. Overall, it’s a pleasant enough stop on your way from point A to point B(BQ), and it’s definitely better than most of the other places we’ve tried in the area. But when it comes time yet again to crack open our piggy bank for BBQ money, we’ll be spending it at BBQ Exchange.
Erin says: “We were told by some Blue Ridge fans that the chicken and turkey are the things to order, but in terms of BBQ, in my opinion BBQ Exchange’s little piggy kicks this little piggy’s butt all the way home.”
Rating: Erin: Jed:
Pros: Good backwoods/roadside atmosphere, chicken BBQ, monster ribs for the big appetite.
Cons: Sauce too sweet and floral for our tastes.
Price: $14 for rib platter, $5-7 for sandwiches.
Parking: A number of spots in front and to the side.