Robert Frost once wrote of choosing to take the road less traveled and how that made all the difference. That idea also applies in the world of restaurants.
Oglethorpe Lane, between Oglethorpe Avenue and Hull Street, is definitely a road less traveled, but owners Andrew and Aileen Trice plan to change that with the hickory-smoked Memphis-style meats of Angels BBQ.
Angels has a limited amount of seating, so they do most of their business in take-out. Due to their side-street location, most of that business thus far has been by word-of-mouth.
So what exactly is Memphis-style?
In South Carolina, people tend to use a mustard-based sauce, says Trice. Georgias sauces are more ketchup-based and sweeter. Memphis-style barbecue is generally tangier and more vinegar based than tomato based.
Memphis-style barbecue also relies on spice rubs as opposed to a heavy sauce to deliver flavor, and Angels has their own unique blend: Angel Dust.
Relax, theres nothing hallucinogenic about it just a special blend of herbs and spices developed after five years of loving labor.
He created the sauce used at Angels as well, having established a forte as saucier during his studies at the California Culinary Academy. After 12 years of fine dining experience in both Europe and the U.S., he decided to go with his heart and go with barbecue.
Andrews love was out of place in California. Nobody in California knows barbecue, he says. In California, if youre invited to a barbecue, youre likely to get anything from fish to hamburgers but not actual barbecue.
Andrews influences actually come from his roots -- his mother hails from Memphis, his father from Georgia.
So whats smokin at Angels? According to the menu, pulled pork, chicken and bologna?
Barbecued bologna is a Memphis favorite, and it was actually one of Elviss favorites as well, says Trice You take the whole bologna and slit all over, then smoke it. Its served thick-sliced as a sandwich with barbecue sauce and coleslaw on top. Angels also has a pork sandwich on the menu.
And what would barbecue be without the appropriate side dishes? How about some mac n cheese, BBQ baked beans, greens and coleslaw (they have fries too). But before you order up, know this: Aside from the mac and the beans, these are not your grandmas go-alongs.
While at the Academy, Trice met a gentleman from our own barrier islands who showed him an old West African way of cooking greens. You will find no fatback or ham hocks in this recipe; what you will find is peanuts.
The greens are cooked in a tangy, mild peanut sauce, and while they may not be what youre used to, they are definitely worth giving a try. The coleslaw is another Memphis method of preparation using a vinegar and mustard base rather than the either sweet or spicy mayonnaise based coleslaws of our area.
Although the previous items are the only ones on the core menu, other dishes, such as Hop N John, Andouille Sausage and Chicken Gumbo and Tasso (spicy pork pieces) and Corn Stew have been offered as Soups of the Day, with dishes such as Brunswick Stew to be added in the future.
Before I left, a final question occurred to me: Where did the name Angels BBQ come from? Aileen laughed and let me in on the secret..
Andrew wanted to be a writer before he went into cooking, she explains When we were first dating, he wrote a childrens book called Birds and the Bees, and he illustrated me in it as an angel. Ive been his angel ever since.
Angels BBQ is at 21 West Oglethorpe Lane, near Whitaker Street. Hours are Wednesday thru Saturday, 11:30 till 6:00 p.m. and Sunday 11:30 till 3:00 p.m. For take out orders, call 495-0902.