About the pulled pork: smoky-sweet, finely chopped, mostly melting-tender but with a few ribbons of crunchy bark, it is succulent enough to make sauce superfluous. It’s the must-eat on a short list of meats that also includes spare ribs and chicken.
Whatever else I want at Mike & Jeff’s, I’ll always side it with a BBQ dog. This is a dizzying pile-up that starts with a hot dog in a fluffy bun. The dog is dressed with mustard and chopped red onions, then heaped with a mound of the good pulled pork. In this instance, sauce is a boon: Carolina mustard sauce in particular. It makes for a truly regional rainbow of fused flavor.
Side dishes are no afterthought. Beans are sweet and porky; mac & cheese is custard-soft and super-cheesy; sweet potato souffle is an only-in-the-South creation that could pass as dessert.
But the real dessert demands full attention. As I spooned into a bowl of banana pudding, the cookies were so crisp and fragile that I wondered if it was made with something other than the usual Nilla Wafers. Chef Jeff Little advised that they are, in fact, Nilla Wafers; but because the pudding is made fresh just hours before lunch is served, they do not have time to soften. Their elegant demeanor is the right complement for an airy custard that also is packed with slices of ripe banana.
Mike & Jeff’s is a tiny, charming place with a cozy dining room (much business is take-out) and a staff who are eager to please. To eat here is a taste of Upstate South Carolina BBQ at its best.