Sauce it Up and Savor It | Cashiers Valley Smokehouse
Cashiers Valley Smokehouse is serving up the cure for Covid-Cramped Craziness. It’s located at 281 US 64 West. To place an order, call (828) 547-2096.
A recurring theme of my last six months of Restaurant Reviews has been the comforting way that a well-prepared meal is even better when you’re sharing it with friends in the midst of this Covid-crippled age.
That’s why Tricia and I recruited a small posse of (carefully-quarantined) friends to join us at Cashiers Valley Smokehouse
Over the course of the last year, Tricia had been slowly succumbing to the pernicious social cocooning madness. She’s a deeply social woman who thrives on conversation, and sharing a meal with friends, and warm, reassuring touches for her patients.
Zoom sessions and tele-health checkups were taking their toll on something precious inside.
We arrived at Cashiers Valley Smokehouse on an early Friday evening and sat around a table with our small troupe of beloved, seldom-seen friends.
It was an immediate balm for Tricia’s stressed psyche.
For me, the comfort came from settling into a place that understood, really understood, Southern Barbecue.
As I’ve noted here before, I’m the product of a mixed marriage – Mom was raised in the Church of Sweet Tomato-Based Sauce, and Dad was a staunch Eastern Carolina Vinegar Man (the product of his upbringing in then-rural Guilford County). Somehow the marriage worked, which I suppose is testament to the transcendent power of Love, and is best left to philosophers and theologians.
We were serious about barbecue. We once made a two-hour drive through the nighttime wilds of middle Georgia to dine at Sweat’s Barbecue outside of Sandersville, after one of Dad’s Army buddies at Fort Benning had grown rhapsodic about a pulled pork sandwich.
(On a side note: My particular faith promises that at some as-yet undisclosed time, I’ll be admitted into Paradise. If it turns out that Big Mike Sweat is not serving up that glorious pulled pork and slabs of ribs, I plan to complain to Management. Of course, Big Mike’s notion of Paradise may not involve slaving over a pit of blazing hickory logs for Eternity, but let’s leave that to the team of theologians already trying to decipher my parents’ marriage.)
Our table wasn’t shy about diving into our meals. There were traditional pulled pork sandwiches, a half-chicken lovingly prepared, brisket, and a rack of St. Louis Style Ribs.
There’s barbecued pork, beef and chicken, and all the traditional sides. And this is important – they offer a full range of homemade sauces. You’d be surprised at how many barbecue places don’t even try anymore. It makes serving barbecue to a crowd of (again, safely-distanced) friends so much more harmonious.
Speaking of harmony, though we all settled in to the serious business of eating, everyone, everyone, had a barbecue story. Some were poignant, laced with memories of happier times, populated by people who’d long ago departed. Some were uproarious, and have only gotten funnier with the steady accretion of time.
This is Comfort Food, and it’s more precious than ever in this strange, unsettled age.
Oh, and perhaps it’s the time to try something new, to find a Contemporary Comfort Food to carry us through whatever the 21st century has in store for next year.
Let me just offer this suggestion – Smokehouse Nachos. It’s a startling melange of your choice of chicken, pork, or brisket, blended with wonton chips, black beans, queso, mango-pineapple salsa, cilantro and beans. This will play your taste buds like a xylophone.
We shared our meal inside, in the warmly-appointed Dining Room, but it was a chilly February evening.
Speaking to you who are luxuriating in a beautiful spring, see if you can’t snag a table on the patio. These are meals to be enjoyed outdoors.
Or place your order to go, and carry your selections to The Village Green which – and I have no quantifiable proof, just a very lucky feeling – is the Finest Picnic Spot in the Southeast.
Cashiers Valley Smokehouse is located at 281 US 64 West. It’s open from 11:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M. Wednesday through Saturday; and 11:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M. Sunday.