The Que is dandy, the selection of brews is outstanding, and the cheeseburgers are among the South’s best at this offshoot of the legendary Kingsman in nearby Cayce (reviewed here). With a similarly stark exterior and a dining area that has all the wide open space of an airplane hanger, the new operation attracts a younger, more stylin’ crowd, especially in the evening when seats become all too precious. But at lunch during the week, eating here has all the downhome charm of the original.
On a recent visit, rather than go for the ribeye-steak palmetto burger that is the menu’s definite best dish (topped with pimento cheese, bacon, and fried jalapenos), I devoted my research to smoked meat. Understand that the area around Columbia, South Carolina, is a barbecue polestar, with such places as Hite’s, True BBQ, and Big Boy’s Smokehouse setting the highest possible standards. In this Major League, Kingsman ‘que acquits itself well. No, it is not on a par with what’s found in the more august institutions, but it’s damn good with a charm all its own. That’s especially true about pulled pork, which packs all the smoky variety that makes every forkful an adventure. Of course, it comes moistened with Midlands-style mustard sauce, adding a welcome tangy note. Brisket is good too, with many pot-roast-soft pieces but also lots of chewy shreds and bits and nuggets that are what Kansas City barbecue aficionados know as burnt ends. While the fattiest, most juicy brisket wants no sauce, Kingsman beef tends towards dry and therefore benefits tremendously from sauce, which adds lubrication as well as a powerfully syrupy sweet note. Also filling up my four-smoked-meats plate were a trio of ridiculously tender baby back ribs with sauce as sweet as jelly and a length of house-made Italian sausage that was, in this company, incongruously Mediterranean in flavor … albeit delicious. You get a side dish with a full meal — tater tots, baked sweet potato, green beans, mac ‘n’ cheese, onion rings, or, for a $1.50 extra, deep fried corn nuggets. Crisp-skinned, warm and sweet and comforting, nuggets are well worth the up-charge.
If barbecue and burgers aren’t your thing, the Kingsman menu also offers steaks, wings, and dinner-size salads.