In the middle of July, my wife, daughters and I took a week-long vacation in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. This is the second time that we have made the trip, with the idea that it may be an annual event. We stay with my wife’s family in a condo that is part of a golf resort and away from the beach (Thanks, Mary and Keith), so it is quiet and a very relaxing environment.
The one thing I really wanted to try, food-wise, was a good example of Carolina BBQ. Now I realize that there are different styles of BBQ depending on where one goes in the Carolinas, but I had found the name of a BBQ joint that came highly recommended. As we were planning our trip, I saw a post on Andrew Zimmern’s web site, in which he identified Scott’s Bar-B-Que as his “favorite barbecue joint in America.” Based on his review and the proximity of Hemingway, South Carolina, to Myrtle Beach, I determined that I would have to try it if at all possible.
What I didn’t realize was that, although Hemingway and Myrtle Beach are only 33 miles apart, as the crow flies, there is a swamp between them that has no roads that cross it. Following the roads that go around the swamp, it takes about an hour to get to Hemingway from Myrtle Beach. The roads took us through what appeared to be very remote, rural South Carolina. Once we arrived, I was not immediately certain that Scott’s was even open.
It was very bright outside and when I walked into the restaurant, I had to pause for a minute because it was so dimly lit inside. Once my eyes adjusted, I saw the handwritten menu hanging above the counter where I needed to order my food. While I waited to order I noticed the other handwritten signs imploring potential customers to leave their mobile phones turned off and put away and to keep their pants pulled up so as to not display their underwear (the more I read, the more I liked this place).
Because I knew my daughters would not be willing to eat anything on the menu, I ordered my meal to go. I opted for two orders (one for me and one for my wife) of the Pulled Pork plate, comprised of a heaping mound of pit-smoked, whole hog, baked beans, cole slaw and a ramekin of BBQ sauce. I took my to go containers and retreated the comfortably air-conditioned vehicle.
Between the pleasing aroma coming from the containers and the anticipation that had built during the trek to this mecca of South Carolina BBQ, I really wanted this to be amazing. Unfortunately, that was not the case. It was good BBQ, but the meat was pretty dry until I poured all the sauce on it. The sauce was vinegar-based and seasoned heavily with crushed red pepper flakes. The tangy heat it brought truly improved the meat, but it almost completely over-powered the smokiness of the meat. As for the sides, the beans were ok, but the cole slaw tasted like it might have come from Sysco.
I think that I may have built up my expectations to a level that the food would never be able to reach. The pulled pork, when combined with the sauce, was definitely better than most of what I have ever eaten, but the lackluster sides and the effort required to reach Scott’s Bar-B-Que make me unlikely to return.