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BITE-SIZED

Pork, Brisket and Sides, Oh My!

Know what’s comforting? A plate of piled-high barbecue — with all the fixins.

Monroe’s Smokehouse Bar-B-Q, with a location on the Westside off Cassat and Edgewood at 4838 Highway Ave., and a mobile food truck (Monroe’s On the Go), recently opened a second brick-and-mortar on bustling Beach Boulevard. The former Woody’s Bar-B-Q has been revamped, and the wood floors, country décor and picnic bench seating is apropos.

After starting with bite-sized corn nuggets <> fried okra, I ordered the pulled pork platter — a large portion of moist and flavorful meat — with two sides, and added a third. Life’s short — why not? The collard greens, with a vinegar base, won over my Southern heart. The creamy mac ‘n’ cheese and sweet potato soufflé were perfect accompaniments: cheesy goodness and a subtly sweet soufflé topped with chopped nuts.

Worth mentioning are those addictive corn nuggets: I recommend starting with a shared basket. They’re stuffed with sweet creamed corn, fried and paired with a slightly spicy homemade ranch dipping sauce.

Monroe’s has finger-licking-good wings (both dry and wet), sandwiches (pulled pork, chopped Carolina pork, brisket, pulled chicken and sliced turkey), salads and platters. The sides are where it’s at; secretly, I’d love to order one of each and stuff myself silly. Talk about tempting: creamy coleslaw, homemade potato salad, collard greens, mashed potatoes, baked beans, black-eyed peas, sweet yellow whole-kernel corn, simmered Southern-style green beans and red coleslaw. The standard fries and side salad are also available.

As a big dipper (no pun intended), I get my kicks by tasting all of the homemade squeezable barbecue sauces: Two sticky thumbs-up for the tangy mustard sauce. There are also sauce flavors of mustard, hot mustard, Monroe sauce, chipotle, Carolina and sweet.

In the back of the restaurant is a …   More

BITE-SIZED

New Additions to the Five Points Palate

Historic 5 Points has become one of the hip and happening spots in town. In addition to neighborhood favorites like The Mossfire Grill, O’Brothers Irish Pub and Sake House, a handful of new spots have opened and business is booming.

Black Sheep Restaurant (1534 Park St., 355-3793, blacksheep5points.com) is open for lunch and dinner. The spot, Orsay’s sister restaurant, serves new American favorites with a Southern twist. With the rooftop bar now open, Black Sheep will debut a brunch menu in the weeks ahead.

Black Sheep pays great attention to utilizing locally sourced ingredients and plating them beautifully. At lunch, meals arrive at your table on shiny silver retro cafeteria-style trays. The pimento cheese-stuffed fried green olives are stacked high with a creamy dipping sauce, while the Black Hog Farms Egg Toast is a sturdy rectangle of brioche topped with melted cheese and two symmetrical parallel placed eggs.

The vibe is fun and hip, with large floor-to-ceiling windows that are perfect for sunlight and people-watching.

Derby on Park (1068 Park St., 379-3343, facebook.com/DerbyOnPark) replaced the former Derby House with new owners, a new space and new menu at the corner of Park Street and Lomax. Open for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Saturday, and brunch on Sunday, Derby touts a $3 to $5 drink and appetizer special list for happy hour.

Cozy Tea Café (1023 Park St., 329-3964, cozyt.com) moved down a few storefronts to a larger space and has reinstated its celebrated Friday and Saturday Indian dinners in addition to its popular Monday-through-Saturday lunch service. Every time I stop in for lunch, I snag a warm lemon cookie. The freshly baked treat has a perfect chewy-to-crispy ratio, and the warm lemon drizzle on top sends it over the edge.

Spot 5 on Park (1020 Park St., 655-5533) recently opened and serves lunch and dinner, coffee and drinks. Spot 5’s simplistic menu includes salads, six styles of hot dogs, and …   More

BITE-SIZED

Time to Flake Out

It sat vacant for quite some time, so I was thrilled to hear that a San Marco storefront would soon be a source for buttery biscuits. And let’s be honest, who doesn’t love a hot, flaky, not-too-doughy-but-still-delightful biscuit?

The new space feels much more warm, cozy and inviting than it did with the two previous inhabitants (The Black Bean, Moe’s), with the addition of wood panels to the open layout, calming colors and a self-service coffee area. Faux chalkboard menus sport a list of all things biscuit-like. And how do you know your order is ready? They yell out the name of your favorite band or favorite childhood TV show — nuggets of your life revealed when you ordered.

On my first visit, I quickly loosened my waistband and ordered The Loaded Goat (with fried chicken breast and a fried goat cheese medallion) and The Sticky Maple (with fried chicken breast, pecan bacon topped with real maple syrup) and two sides that piqued my interest: grits and Smoky Mountain Mac-N-Cheese.
 The signature biscuit sandwiches range from $4 to $7 and are filling. Sauces and other sides (sweet potato fries, collards, black-eyed peas, salad, pepper jelly, butter, cheese, honey, apple butter, maple syrup, etc.) are additional. And for you true Southerners, I hear the sausage gravy is to die for.

The biscuits were good, but not overly fluffy. They were sturdy enough to support the generous piece of moist fried chicken, which wasn’t the slightest bit greasy. The creamy melted goat cheese edged out the Sticky Maple. The Mac-N-Cheese was decent and I enjoyed my creamy grits, which I doused with Louisiana hot sauce.

On my second visit, I went simple: a biscuit with seasonal pumpkin butter and a coffee. Of the several varieties offered, I preferred the slightly sweet Maple Tap coffee, roasted specially for the restaurant. My biscuit was flaky and delicious, and the pumpkin butter had tons of flavor.

Maple Street’s hours of operation …   More