Memorable | One of the Best
Perry Foster’s BBQ
Review by: Michael Stern
** THIS RESTAURANT IS PERMANENTLY CLOSED **
The Central Savannah River Area is a land of excellent barbecue where Perry Foster’s place is unique. Make no mistake: It IS excellent barbecue. But it’s different. For one thing, the restaurant is open seven days a week. (Typically, barbecues hereabouts are closed Sunday through Wednesday.) For another, when you order pork, it isn’t chopped or pulled as is the local custom; it comes sliced. Thirdly, the best meat in the house isn’t pork at all; it is beef – ribs and brisket; or maybe it is mutton. If you are a nationwide barbecue aficionado, bells may be chiming just now, and if they are, the tune is the blues song “Kansas City.”
For three decades before coming to Georgia in 2013, Perry Foster built his reputation as a barbecue man running his eponymous pit in Warrensburg, Missouri, about an hour southeast of KC. When he returned to Georgia, he brought some of the best of the Midwest’s smoke house traditions. Mutton, for example (here called lamb), used to be a sleeper go-to dish at the legendary Arthur Bryant’s in the pitmaster’s heyday. Mr. Foster’s mutton, sliced thin, is somewhat daunting: not juicy, in fact somewhat dry. But a few chews releases great waves of concentrated flavor – a smoke-saturated mineral smack unique to ewe meat. With a full ration of spicy red barbecue sauce, it is divine.
As for ribs, those of pork are definitely juicier, but beef ribs pack three times as much flavor. Hugely satisfying beef! Likewise brisket, which is in the Texas league of succulence. Sliced pork is quite alright, especially when painted with Perry Foster’s good sauce, but there’s better pork around Augusta. I’ve yet to find better barbecue beef.
Dandy side dishes: mac ‘n’ cheese that is super-creamy, greens that are oily and fetchingly bitter and vegetable-strong, gorgeous French fries that are each a significant cut from a potato, the outside logs still bearing skin; and baked beans that are thick and hammy, as satisfying as main-course stew.
Dessert is not particularly Midwestern; it is soul-food standards: red velvet cake, Key lime cake, pound cake, and sweet potato pie. All are fine, if not memorable.
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