Barbecue in the Boone Docks
Barbecue fans are a discerning lot.
The makings of good barbecue transcend the famous sauce schism - vinegar, mustard or tomato - down to the very bone.
Be it chopped, sliced and pulled, it's the cooking that counts, the natural flavors and barbecue sauce complementing each other to delicious effect.
Boone Docks BBQ in Boone is offering High Country residents a delectable combination of the two.
The new restaurant, fit comfortably in the former Huddle House on Blowing Rock Road, is the concept of area entrepreneur Monie McCoury. Owned by McCoury and his sister, Tami Canning, Boone Docks features a menu that's rather unique. Its barbecue is a family recipe - just not McCoury's.
McCoury and Canning grew up in Atlanta, Ga., enjoying barbecue served by their family friends at the Old Hickory House, a now defunct restaurant whose owners offered McCoury their locally famous recipes.
"This is a barbecue I've been eating since I was 5 years old," McCoury said, "and I'm 42 years old now, if that tells you something."
McCoury is quick to admit Boone Docks' barbecue sauce is different than most others in the area - it's a tomato-based concoction, served warm with meat already in it and a "twinge of tang."
"I've tried barbecue sauce everywhere, but it just never had the (Old Hickory House) flavor," McCoury said. "Through my travels, every time I'd go back to Atlanta, it was always a point to get the barbecue. We don't offer an array of sauces, like sweet, hot or honey mustard. We have one flavor, and we find it uniquely different, and we feel it's the best."
Some customers share the sentiment.
"We've only been open about three weeks, and have had some people eat here eight or nine times already," McCoury said.
The barbecue itself is smoked for eight hours, and a built-in moisture system keeps everything succulent and moist, before being chopped or sliced to order.
Boone Docks' signature items include barbecue pork, chicken, turkey and ribs, served in a variety of combination baskets with "sidekick" side items, like baked beans, slaw, potato salad, green beans, macaroni and cheese, corn on the cob, french fries and the restaurant's special Brunswick stew.
This particular stew recipe also hails from Old Hickory House, and McCoury's happy to see his customers' reactions. "We've had people who've never had Brunswick stew try it and come back to get several pints to go," McCoury said.
Appetizers include the popular stew, along with chicken wings, chicken tenders and onion rings. Sandwiches vary from loaded barbecue (pork, chicken or turkey) to rib-eye steak to grilled chicken to burgers, including McCoury's particular favorite. "We offer something no one else offers - a pimento cheese burger," he said.
Sandwiches can also come in compact "slider" size, barring the rib-eye.
Boone Docks also sells in bulk, with sliced or chopped barbecue starting at $6.99 per pound, and McCoury said the restaurant is also open for catering. Curbside service is also offered, meaning folks can call in an order and simply park out front, where a server will deliver the meal.
Eventually, McCoury plans to jumpstart a lunch van service, in which meals are packaged and delivered throughout town to area businesses, where employees can choose from the day's specials.
"He has crazy ideas, but they're actually fantastic," Canning said of her brother. "When he gets a good vision in his head, it comes out nothing but fantastic."
Canning, who also grew up on Old Hickory's barbecue, is experienced in the restaurant industry, but didn't realize she'd find herself back in the business.
"It's a lot of hours and work, but it's fun," she said. "You get to meet a lot of interesting people, and we've got a great staff."
McCoury, who also owns of Scream Time Zipline, has lived in the High Country for six years. With the zipline business more seasonal in nature, he sought something to occupy his time and please the taste buds.
Boone Docks is located at 1760 Blowing Rock Road in Boone. Hours are Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. until the last customer leaves, and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Got restaurant news? E-mail entertainment editor Frank Ruggiero at (email@example.com) , snail mail Mountain Times Publications, Attn: Frank Ruggiero, 474 Industrial Park Drive, Boone, N.C. 28607, or call (828) 264-NEWS and ask for Frank.