The barbecue's a winner


North Carolina style scores at the Corral

August 07, 2002|By Tom Waldron | Tom Waldron,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The menu at the North Carolina Barbecue Corral boasts, "We are genuine North Carolinians." If we're talking about basketball, them's fighting words. But when it comes to barbecue, let's give the Tarheels their proper respect.

Indeed, these North Carolinians know what they're doing with barbecue at this inexpensive carryout, which sits in a strip mall just south of Reisterstown Road Plaza in Northwest Baltimore.

There are no tables, but there are seven comfortable chairs in a waiting room decorated with pigs (always a good sign), cute checked aprons, copper pots and assorted knickknacks. The only negative was the blaring television in the kitchen, which we could hear clearly but couldn't watch.

The Corral warns, "We are not a fast-food carryout," and it lived up to that slogan as our order took about 20 minutes to prepare, a little long in my book. But we didn't mind the wait because the server was so friendly and helpful.

We tried the two main barbecue dishes: a chopped-pork sandwich and ribs. Both were excellent. The Little Piggy sandwich - a nice pile of meat laced with tiny bits of chopped pepper on a hamburger roll ($3.10) - could have come from any number of roadside joints in North Carolina and was a complete winner. The server included an extra supply of the Corral's tangy, Carolina-style, vinegar-based sauce on the side and coleslaw, a yummy, yellowish concoction seasoned with caraway seeds.

The rib dinner ($6.89) featured a modest serving of tender ribs - meaty and brown, as opposed to the nearly black variety you find at some rib places around here. The ribs came with yams, which were sugary and laced with clove, and collard greens.

A fried-fish sandwich ($2.80) included a huge slab of fish that stuck out from between two pieces of white bread. While it was cooked in a nice peppery batter and was perfectly adequate, the fish sandwich wasn't on par with the barbecue.

For dessert, we tried the lemon cake, made by a local bakery (although the Corral sometimes makes its own desserts). Our server had told us the cake was "moist." It may have been the greasiest dessert I have ever eaten, but it was delicious.

North Carolina Barbecue Corral

Food: * * *

Service: * * *

Waiting area: * * * 1/2

Parking: * *

Where: 6212 Reisterstown Road, Baltimore

Phone: 410-585-1077

Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesday through Friday; 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday; closed Sunday to Tuesday

Prices: Sandwiches and dinners from $3.10 to $6.99; credit cards accepted

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