Date: May 30th 2009
Natty Greene's Pub and Brewing Company
Attendees: Harper, Allison, Joey, Caroline, Marshburn, Dan
Stop #4 : Greensboro, NC. Greensboro is a decent sized city in the heart of Carolina that has a reputation of being... well... boring. Boring starts with a "B" though and here at NCBBBQ Tour we love things that start with "B". Besides, how boring can a city be that has baseball, BBQ, and beer?
Well probably pretty dull unless you're a fat sports-crazed drunk, but hey I'm not moving here, I'm just passing through.
We started with the BBQ and usually this is an easy win. Like I've said before I'm not a picky man and Stamey's is a NC tradition. Yet ominously the Greensboro natives that I know proclaimed that they would, and I quote, "rather lick the dirt where an out of business Greensboro BBQ place once stood" than eat at Stamey's. I think I read the same thing in Zagat's guide to Greensboro. Would this be the first BBQ failure of the tour?
The first thing you notice is the structure and design of the place. The restaurants in the BBQ world tend to be holes in the wall or have "same as 30 years ago" styling. Stamey's has more of a standard country restaurant styling, like a BBQ Cracker Barrel\l.
Here's the BBQ. How was it? Well I wouldn't rather tongue topsoil but it wasn't very good. The flavor was bland, probably the blandest I can remember having, and the chop was too fine. Usually the sauce will be a savior at this point but the sauce was merely ok, not this BBQs personal Jesus. For the sides - personally I liked the coleslaw and the hushpuppies, but those in attendance had mixed reviews. That'll happen with red slaw - which can have an odd taste - though this one was far less pronounced with ketchup flavor than others I've had. The hushpuppies were more salty than sweet. Most people like the sweeter hushpuppies. They had milkshakes which enticed some of our party but again another failure.
Not that any of this was bad purr-say, I'd certainly eat it if it was placed in front of me for dinner. But when you've had great BBQ after great BBQ, this mediocre "get you by" BBQ really stands out for what it is.
Ok well strike one. What about some beer to get the taste of pedestrian Q out of the mouth? It was off the Greensboro's hometown brewpub Natty Greene's (named after revolutionary hero Nathaniel Greene). A nice, large two-story place downtown much like Foothills brewery's place in Winston-Salem (though I'm pretty sure this came first for those that care about these things)
The beer? Redeemingly good. This is actually the second time I've been to the place and I've been looking for a reason to come back. Here's my "Wildflower Witbier". I believe I followed it up with "Bayonet ESB" and "Elm Street IPA" but don't quote me on that.
The absolute best part of the Greensboro tour is that the Grasshopper stadium is downtown, and not "20 blocks away" downtown or "one and a half miles away" downtown but right there. You drink good beer and then walk 10 minutes to the ballpark? That's gotta be ideal. Way to come back strong Greensboro.
Fortune almost turned on our intrepid tourists at this point. I don't go into attending a minor league game thinking i need to get my tickets early. Even at the very popular Durham Bulls games you can always find a seat (albeit baking in the outfield sun but still they're there). Dab nabbit though if Greensboro didn't sell out. They announced to the crowd that only lawn seats would be available and we had to rush to get those. Still the seats weren't all that bad for being in the outfiled and I guess I needed to have the "cheap seats" at least once this tour.
I really liked this stadium and it's attempts at making the game fun for all had the right twists to it: See the Neese's"sausage" race and the signs for Greensboro's congressman and their "other congressman" (ok that's not the team's idea but I still like it.) They also had Natty Greene's beer on tap all over the place. And again, blessed with just a gorgeous night for a game.
Despite the rocky start, Greensboro came back strong. For the completiists, eat at Stamey's. For others just the beer and baseball, will do you right.