I had plenty of nice things to say about Swig & Swine when I reviewed it, but my rave deeply disappointed chef Anthony DiBernardo, who in a Facebook comment took issue with my writing ("I had to Google like six words") and my brisket opinions.
DiBernardo maintains I didn't "see the true representation of (his) product," although my server didn't mention anything was amiss with my plate. What's more likely, I think, is that the brisket is a work in progress.
Brisket isn't a forgiving meat, and it typically takes pit masters at least a few months to work out some kind of rapprochement between the cut and a brand new smoker. (OK, I threw in that word just for DiBernardo.) As a longtime certified barbecue judge, I've learned to dread brisket-judging duty: Not only is brisket easy to botch, but bad brisket is among the worst of messed-up meats. It's dry, tough and - all too often - the victim of off-tasting dry rubs and chemical-flavored Liquid Smoke.
So I was very excited to learn that JB's Smokeshack on Johns Island makes an excellent brisket. I was clued into the occasional special by a friend who buys multiple pounds at a time: He likes it sliced cold on sandwiches.
JB's has lately been experimenting with burnt ends, the dried-out corner tips of brisket that were first elevated to delicacy status in Kansas City. The sample I tried was smothered with sauce, but I didn't detect much of the crisp char that defines burnt ends. Still, the meat was great, and even better when sliced in the traditional manner.
There are four sauces available at JB's (which is now readying to release the sauces for retail sale), but the brisket doesn't need them. The beef is more than just a pretty smoke ring, although the ring's rosy enough that a patron reportedly once sent a serving back for more cooking: It's saturated with so much appealing smoke that I could smell lunch on my fingers for hours. And because the brisket has wide ribbons of fat, it scores highly in the juiciness and flavor categories too.
Located at 3406 Maybank Highway, JB's is open Wed.-Sat., 11 a.m.-8:30 p.m. If you're seeking brisket, it's always wise to call first: 557-0426. The restaurant is also online at jbssmokeshack.com.
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