Tucked into an unprepossessing brick building in Charlottesville’s Rose Hill neighborhood, Ace Biscuit & Barbecue does its name proud. An Ace biscuit is square and substantial, not angelically light but a high-quality presence to reckon with – rich and luxurious, speckled throughout with sharp grains of black pepper. Its avoirdupois makes it ideal as the foundation for a breakfast specialty called the Dirty Biscuit: a couple of succulent, crisp-fried chicken thighs topped with sausage gravy on one half, and a blanket of sweet-pepper pimiento cheese and a couple of thick pickle chips on the other half.
What’s fun about the biscuit side of the equation is all the possibilities. The blackboard menu invites customers to build their own with southern breakfast sausage, Mexican chorizo, pulled pork, bacon, country ham, buttermilk fried chicken, fried green tomatoes, and a wide assortment of different cheeses. And, of course, there are sausage gravy and/or eggs. For those not in a biscuit mood, Ace offers breakfast of flapjacks or waffles (with or without fried chicken on top).
As for the barbecue, that, too, is dandy (and, in my experience, available first thing in the morning as well as for lunch). Pulled pork is extraordinarily smoky, coming in a motley heap of shreds and chunks, available with all sorts of sauces, including North Carolina vinegar and an eye-opening “bold & spicy.” Thin-sliced tri-tip is savory in its own juices, but dramatically better with house-made horseradish mayo. Spare ribs are billed as “belly on a bone.”
Dining is eat-in-the-rough casual. Place your order at the counter, pay, and give the order-taker your name. When it’s ready he or she will call you up to fetch your food. Bring it to one of the tables or to the counter along the wall and front window. When finished, customers are expected to bus their own places.