Brown Way Down in Monck’s Corner

Anne and I had been driving since 8 in the morning, factchecking Billly Baldwin’s Lowcountry Daytrips, on roads so small I coudn’t find a place to buy coffee, much less lunch, and we ended up in Monck’s Corner absolutely ravenous, way past the lunch hour. I knew all about Brown’s Barbecue in Kingstree, but nothing about A&M Brown’s in Monck’s Cornerambrown, but any barbecue is better than a burger from one of the chains that have popped up along Highway 52.

A&M Brown’s, the same family as the Browns of Kingstree, featured, of course, a buffet, but what intrigued me is how many of the meats, all of which looked highly appetizing, I couldn’t immediately identify—some yellow-tinted chicken or pork that looked like curry. Some dark red gravy that wasn’t liver hash. Some chicken, I thought, that seemed to be heavily marinated. A roast of some sort. And two kinds of pork rinds, not to mention fried chicken and chicken bog and what was obviously pulled pork. Besides, the price was right—only $7.99, which included limas, corn, greens with those little potatoes, fried okra and other veggies, plus dessert.

What immediately blew me away was the barbecue, as vinegary as I’ve ever had and peppery—too peppery for my spouse. In short, some of the best South Carolina vinegar-spiked barbecue I’ve ever tasted—moist, savory and with just a hint of smoke. The yellowish meat turned out to be pork dressed with mustard sauce. “We’re right on the line between vinegar and mustard, so I serve them both,” said Mike Brown, who visits the tables to make sure people like what they’re eating.

We did, including the chicken bog amplified with sausage, the roast beef with carrots and potatoes, and what turned out to be teriaki chicken, which Mike explained he whipped up when a friend requested it and other people liked it so much he’s kept it on the menu ever since. The red gravy turned out to be tomato hash—not liver hash because, “I don’t like liver,” said Mike, “and I don’t cook anything I don’t like.” What I kept going back to the buffet for were the cracklins, which were quite salty and crunchy, and the pork rinds, which were totally unsalted and disssolved in your mouth like divinity. I paired them with the sweet pickles.

For dessert I had sweet potatoes, which were as sweet as sweet taters get, although Anne tried and liked the banana pudding. What we didn’t see were collard greens. An inquiry brought Mike back out to our table with a bowl, accompanied by corn chips. In the bowl was obviously a dip of some sort with a base of cream cheese. “Collard dip,” he said, “like spinach dip, only made from collards.”

Just because you specialize in an age-old food stuff, which has been around since the convergence of hogs, men and fire, that doesn’t mean there’s no room for creativity, even if the collard-green category.

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4 Responses to “Brown Way Down in Monck’s Corner”

  1. Beth Westmark Says:

    Sounds like my idea of the perfect breakfast (as long as I could have chickory coffee with it).

    I just started using my smoker again, and this time I didn’t blow up the beer-in-the-butt chicken; just smoked a rack of ribs. They were good, but I didn’t keep the fire quite hot enough.

    When you visit sometime, click on the Mary Beth’s Kitchen category. I write fairly often about collard greens.

  2. Beth Westmark Says:

    Actually, I meant to say either the Mary Beth’s Kitchen or the Longleaf Bar and Grill categories.

  3. Richard Gilbert Says:

    I just ate dinner and this made me ravenous.

  4. scott sapp Says:

    thanks for putting this place on my radar.

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