Well, OK, the friendly pig (and resulting pit cooked swine) probably isn’t racist, but it would appear that the owner of Maurice’s BBQ in Columbia, SC has some…interesting points of view. That may have your attention, but first some background info:
Maurice’s is a local BBQ establishment with fourteen locations in the Columbia area, and three other locations in South Carolina. The BBQ is done in the “Carolina style” of yellow mustard based sauce (sometimes called “Carolina Gold“). I’ve eaten there twice in the few years that I’ve worked two days a week in South Carolina, but it’s been over a year since my last outing, and I thought I’d give it another shot. Though reviews online aren’t all positive, I recalled it as being above average, and I don’t get this style of BBQ in Atlanta so the variety is nice. Plus, there is the side benefit of the cultural regression that makes for an interesting post.
When first arriving at Maurice’s, you may notice that they are quite fond of the Confederate battle flag. This may indicate a bit of what you are in store for, and Maurice Bessinger’s choice to fly this flag has not gone unnoticed. While I don’t have a strong sentiment in anyone’s choice to fly this flag, I do find it to be behind the times and generally done as an “F-U” to the establishment/those that verbally oppose the flying of the flag.
Is there really a point to a restaurant making the effort to do all this? What message is Maurice trying to send to his customers? Or is he really trying to say that he only wants to solicit a certain type of customer? I think restaurants should be trying to make people happy with their food, not influence them with their politics. But hey, it’s his right, and I continue walking inside.
Immediately upon entering my chosen Maurice’s location, there is a table setup with “propaganda” for sale with a sign on the wall labeled “The Truth Store” (indicating that this BBQ joint must be the only honest and credible sources of patriotic information, lol).
But seriously, it’s a great source of information. You know, in case you want to read about our Nation of Cowards, or how we’ve gone From Union to Empire while you munch on some pulled pork. Yes, I know it’s arguable whether or not these these books are offensive, or just patriotic in the form of advocating the Bill of Rights. Just ask The Southern Patriot or Southern Partisan Magazine, both of which reviewed the latter book.
Now that I’ve blabbed about the ridiculousness of this restaurant environment, on to the BBQ.
Even though the lady working the order counter stared me down while I took photos outside, she was quite nice and friendly. She directed me to the Little Joe plate, which is a sandwich with 5oz of pit cooked BBQ, coleslaw, hush puppies, and french fries. I added a sweet tea to round out the gloriously greasy meal.
I don’t drink sweet tea too often, but on occasion, with the right meal, it can be fairly awesome.
Here is the camera phone pic I managed of the plate that I received a few minutes later. The fries were crisp, very hot, and grease-tastic…quite enjoyable. The coleslaw was very classic, not too runny, and had a nice crunch and balance of ingredients. The BBQ was smoky, lean, and tasty, with just a little bit of the aforementioned mustard BBQ sauce. I added quite a bit more sauce and I thought it was definitely worth eating the entire portion, despite the desired respite for which my stomach was begging.
The hush puppies were a nice addition too. I’ve always been a fan of them, but then again, really anything fried tastes good, so why would what is essentially fried cornbread be any different? A Simpson’s episode comes to mind where upon leaving the Springfield Fair, Marge says to Homer “I didn’t say you COULDN’T deep fry your shirt, I said you SHOULDN’T deep fry your shirt”, as Homer takes a bite of his sleeve.
Despite the fact that my personal convicitions differ from management, and particulary conflicts with the purpose such a restaurant should serve, I have to admit that I enjoyed the meal quite a bit. It had all the BBQ appeal – it was satisfying, filling, unique (for us outside of SC), and qualifies as an “experience”. Do I regret going and supporting this wacko? No. But BBQ joints are a dime a dozen, and there are too many places to try to waste my time with this nonsense. If I want to see wacky stuff on the walls I’ll go to Chili’s.