First Impressions: Moe’s Original Bar B Que

With Downtown Greenville booming with rampant construction and prime real estate in the business center costing a pretty penny, it was only a matter of time until development crept out to the corridors of city center.  The Stone Avenue area was a prime location for this due to the proximity to the North Main neighborhood and use as a prime thoroughfare for many residents.  First came Main + Stone and then construction began on the massive NorthPointe development, all the while existing buildings such as the old Handlebar and the strip mall behind Stone’s Point were updated and gained new tenants.

Another major development went up along Stone Ave. in the midst of all this progress, Westone.  Situated between Townes Street and Wilton Street, Westone will house Liability Brewing, the second location of Coffee Underground as well as their pizza concept, World Piece, (Aside: This is the worst name for a restaurant in the Upstate tied with Rocket Surgery) and the only tenant that is currently open, Moe’s Original Bar B Que.

Started by three friends from Alabama in Colorado, Moe’s is a chain barbecue restaurant.  This is a full fledged chain as they have 60+ locations across the country and one in Mexico.  With the founders being from Alabama, the specialty is the chicken with Alabama white sauce.  This is a tangy mayo-based concoction that many Carolina barbecue purists would call sacrilege as a barbecue sauce.  So how does their “Bar B Que” stack up against the natives?

Moe's interior

First, the interior decor is a mishmash of barbecue farmhouse/shabby chic and industrial rawness.  There’s scattered kitschy signs and pig decor that you see at many barbecue joints but it also looks like a Chipotle was abandoned and a barbecue restaurant sprung up.  Moe’s is a fast casual-style restaurant, so you order at the register and they bring it to your table.

You’ll find all the usual suspects here: pork, chicken, turkey, ribs, wings, along with fried catfish, fried shrimp, and blackened mahi.  For the vegetarians, there’s smoked tofu.  Moe’s always has baked beans, a vinegar-based marinated slaw, potato salad, banana pudding, and bags of chips as sides.  They also offer daily sides and specials.  The day we were there, they were offering a rib sandwich and a thanksgiving sandwich as specials.

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I ordered the half chicken platter with mac and cheese and marinated slaw.  I also added on 3 oz of pulled pork for $4 extra.  My wife ordered the wing platter with potato salad and brunswick stew.  They gave her slaw instead of brunswick stew initially, but when told of the issue, they brought the brunswick stew as well as a banana pudding.  Kudos to them for making it right and going the extra mile.

So, about the food.  First up, the meats.  The best of these, by far, was the wings.  They had the right amount of smokiness, the skin wasn’t flabby, the meat wasn’t dry.  They were exactly what you want smoked wings to be.  They come with a side of the Alabama white sauce for dipping or slathering.  It’s a fine sauce, but I can see how some people wouldn’t like it.  The second best was the chicken.  It was moist and tender, but lacked the depth of the wings as the smoke was very subtle.  The half chicken did not come with extra white sauce, just white sauce and Moe’s house sauce drizzled on the chicken.  Their signature white sauce is not on the tables in bottles and only given out in plastic ramekins by the staff.  You’d think that a half of a chicken would come with extra white sauce automatically if the wings did, but alas.  The house barbecue sauce, which is in bottles at the tables, is a tomato vinegar based sauce that’s not really noteworthy.  It’s not the worst barbecue sauce I’ve had, but it’s not the best.  The pulled pork was at the bottom of the barrel.  Seriously, the very bottom.  There was very little smoke flavor and very little flavor at all.  It seemed overcooked, as you want pulled pork to be tender, but still have resistance and some chew.  This just disintegrated in my mouth and turned to mush.  Even the “bark” that was on the pork was not crunchy or chewy or even flavorful.

And of course, barbecue isn’t just about the meats, it’s also about the sides.  But here, the sides run from okay to disasters.  The brunswick stew was okay, but fairly one note, that being of tomato.  The potato salad was your standard potato salad, fine but nothing exceptional.  The slaw had a very good flavor.  Even though it was marinated slaw, it was pretty dry.   And then there was the mac and cheese.  This should not be called mac and cheese.  It should just be called noodles.  Was there cheese present allowing it to be called mac and cheese?  Sure, but it gets there on a technicality.  There was very little cheese mixed in the noodles.  There was no cheese sauce.  Not even heaping amounts of straight cheddar heaped into the noodles before baking and the oil separating out.  No, this was straight macaroni noodles with some oil or butter put in a pan and then covered with cheese.  This might be one of the worst representations of mac and cheese I’ve ever had and I’ve had a lot of not so great ones.  The free banana pudding we got was fine, nothing special.  The bananas are blended into the pudding and the vanilla wafers are softened so there’s very little textural contrast in there.

The best thing on the plate bar none was the cornbread.  Griddled for a nice crisp outside and tender, moist, and sweet inside with what seemed to be little flecks of jalapeno scattered about.  One of the sides of the day was cornbread dressing and I would like to come back and try that if it’s made with that cornbread.

All in all, Moe’s is exactly what it says it is: chain barbecue.  This meal for both of us was around $30.  $4 for 3 oz of sub par pork as a meal add on is ridiculous. You’re better off ordering an extra pound of pork at Moe’s for $12 and then taking the rest home.  Moe’s “Bar B Que” is fine, it’s not offensive, but it’s not even the best barbecue within a mile radius of their store.  You’d be better served going just a few minutes away to Henry’s Smokehouse on Wade Hampton.  Not only is the food better quality,  it’s cheaper.  It’s also locally owned and operated, giving you a real taste of Upstate Barbecue.

I think you can tell that there’s a theme here.  Moe’s Original Bar B Que is fine.  It’ll do well in it’s space and get plenty of business from Liability Brewing when it opens.  But for those with a taste for true barbecue, you can find better very easily.

Moe’s Original Bar B Que

109 West Stone Ave.

Suite B

Greenville, SC 29609

http://www.moesoriginalbbq.com

864-520-1740

Entrée Plates – $8-15

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