Excellent | Worth a Detour
Rodney Scott’s BBQ
Review by: Michael Stern
Rodney Scott’s BBQ first appeared on Roadfood radar back in the early 2000s when it was a small roadside joint just west of Myrtle Beach. After being anointed as authentic by the national press, its fame grew and Rodney became a smoke-pit celebrity. In 2016, he left the family business in Hemingway to open a big place on Upper King Street in Charleston. In 2018, he won a James Beard award.
What to eat at Rodney Scott’s BBQ in Charleston, SC
Cut to the chase: Scott’s whole-hog BBQ has survived celebrity, popularity, and the move from country to city. Pulled pork in particular is noteworthy, served as a big, soft pillow of shredded meat without a jot of fat but so succulent that sauce can be an afterthought. Coming from the northeast part of the state, Scott makes sauce that is vinegar-based, thin, and peppery — more like what most people associate with eastern North Carolina. It’s twangy with a citrus twist, and when used judiciously it adds a halo to what is, in fact, subtle-flavored meat.
There’s nothing subtle about the ribs. These are spare ribs, not baby backs. They’re chewy fellas, but in the best possible way, yielding a mighty wave of flavor. Chicken, on the other hand, is ultra-tender; but like the ribs, it glows with smoke-pit essence and a virtual energy field of spice.
Speaking of spice, French fries are nearly explosive: salted and peppered, crisp and hot from the kettle, they are some of the best around: great as-is, maybe even better if gently sprinkled with that vinegar-based BBQ sauce.
After all the smoke-pit pyrotechnics, nothing’s better than banana pudding; and on that score, Rodney Scott’s delivers the goods. Cool and refreshing, it is a consummate balance of custard, Cool Whip, bananas, and cookies that range from whole to crumbles to soft streaks of flavor.
The Rodney Scott’s of Charleston respects BBQ and does it right. However, its location on what is becoming a hip restaurant row can make it feel trendy-urban, sometimes disturbingly so. The line to get in the door tends to be a long one, like waiting for an attraction in a theme park. Nevertheless, food on the butcher paper-covered plastic tray is the real deal.
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