Several weeks ago, my daughter told me about a new place they had gone to eat over the weekend, Praise the Lard BBQ. I’ll have to admit, I was committed to going once I heard the name. Sharing space in a short strip mall with Journey Church, PTL looks much smaller from the outside than it actually is, and was confused by one of my co-workers as being part of the church. We mentioned that to the owner and he said that was one of the reasons for the giant BBQ sign in the lawn out front.
Walking in, directly to the counter, there’s seating to the right and left both, easily seating 100 or more people at any given time. We had a chance to chat with the owner on several occasions (waiting for food in line, just after being served and again after finishing up our meal) and he was quite engaging. In fact, when I asked him how he was doing he said, “Great! Owning a barbecue joint is like winning the lottery -except for the money part.” I decided on the combo plate of pork and burnt ends and my coworker had the pork plate. I’d been warned away from the Brunswick stew but my daughter, as she thought it to be a bit sweet, so I ordered mac & cheese and the grit cake.
While we waited, I pondered the assortment of sauces (there were at least six). I squeezed samples of three into small plastic cups,
and headed to the table. Of these three, my favorites were the Lexington Dip and the Carolina (mustard) sauce. The mustard sauce was exactly what you would expect from a South Carolina-style sauce, with a good bit of kick to it in addition to the mustard-y taste. I found it particularly tasty on the burnt ends. The Lexington sauce could’ve used an additional caveat on the note, saying to cover the opening, because when I shook it “well” sauce went flying everywhere. The Al Pastor sauce didn’t do much for the pork, in my opinion. On the table, we also had their house PTL sauce (a sweet tomato-based sauce) and what they listed simply as “nuclear”. The Lexington Dip had quite a kick to it, but didn’t even come close to the nuclear sauce on the heat scale.
As we were finishing up the owner came by and asked us what we thought of the sauces and we shared our thoughts. He then added that he had a new one in the back he was working on that’s just called “stupid” sauce – as in you’d have to be stupid to try anything that hot. The challenge was accepted at that point. He brought us out a small plastic cup about a third full of a deep brick colored sauce. He said that this sauce was based on ghost chiles, but with the season to get fresh ghost chiles passed, the cost had gotten exorbitant, so he made this with ghost chile powders, some type of mole and other chilis. I dipped a piece of grit cake into it, and the first bite left the roof of my mouth warm. The second dip and bite took the heat level to hot, the third to scorching. The burn builds with each bite. This would make a killer hot wing sauce but could numb your taste buds pretty readily if you weren’t careful.
Looking back at this photo, I should have removed the bread first…. at least you can see a bit of everything. The pulled pork had a nice smoke to it, but was awfully greasy, which seemed unusual. There may be more barbecue that’s as greasy, but you don’t notice it with pre-sauced meat. The burnt ends (the cuts from the point end of a brisket) were delicious, in a thick dark brown sauce, and cooked to just short of being “burnt”. The mac-n-cheese, made with rotini, had a mix of cheeses and a good bit of flavor, the same of which couldn’t be said for the grit cake. My co-worker had the greens which he said were quite good.
This may be the best barbecue place near my office and I plan to go back, soon, and try the ribs.