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Jul 10 2012
High Cotton Barbeque

Barbeque – do you get it?

You may have heard a little bit about the Outer Banks of North Carolina in some of the previous posts here on B&P. Some of us fine upstanding Gentlemen of Beer & Pig chose to vacation together yearly on this glorious island. Beautiful beaches, wonderful people, and some of the best BBQ that can be found in Mr. Lincoln’s Union. As we have established in the past through over-elaborate metaphor, and what some would call “an un-healthy addiction,” we take our craft very seriously. The island was canvased, we ate it all. That leads us to High Cotton.

Full disclosure, we’ve eaten here before. We love the Outer Banks, its where we draw our roots as a collective. We’ve been up and down the islands uncovering stones. During our 2011 summer vacation, we stumbled onto High Cotton, but actually opted into ordering out. With a larger group, and restaurants having a tendency to be crowded on key nights, we felt it best to take-out and eat on the deck of the vacation house. When Washington sailed across the Delaware River, he leaned down to the guy stuck rowing and said “because of this act of patriotism, one day 8 chubby guys will be able to eat pork outdoors on a warm summer night.” They crossed that river. Freedom.

But this pre-dates Beer & Pig. This time; we eat not just for us. We eat… for you. This time… we eat for keeps. Determined, and focussed, we braved the teaming crowds and huddled masses and simply went to dinner earlier. We put on our fanciest sleeveless t-shirts, and headed to High Cotton.

Albert Einstein has been attributed with saying “everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” And as the Grandfather of modern-day BBQ* (*wild baseless claim), he clearly set the scene for High Cotton. The decor is traditional picnic style, however set inside a very wide and open family style cottage house. Get this: they have stacks of cases of Classic RC Cola, topped with cases of Moonpie’s. You can start waving Old Glory now.

I honestly cannot say that everyone will have the same experience when visiting High Cotton, let alone any restaurant, that we had. To put it lightly, things went well.

We took up residence in a wonderful double table as we carried a hefty load of eight patrons. There were multiple attendants seating and attending to guest, as one server absolutely dominated the floor. Unfortunately I have forgotten his name, but will affectionately refer to him as Steve. Let me tell you this, Steve had the whole floor on lock-down. Immediately he descending on our table, and noticed the glimmer in our eyes. I noticed you noticing Steve. We noticed back.

You know that shtick servers can sometimes do where they try to interject themselves on your experience hoping to bond with you, but it normally just results in an awkward and forced back and forth? Not Steve. He controlled our table with his rhetoric. Captivated our attention briefly, but hit solid lines and immediately countered our own.

Here is where things got weird. Apparently, another table returned a double rack of ribs to the kitchen unaware of conflicting ingredients with their allergies. Blasphemer! Heretic! Villain! I suppose such an act could be explained by “if I eat this it could terminate my existence,” however it’s a solid way to go.

Mid shuck, and after many jives, Steve scooped up the untouched ribs, explained the situation to our table (he recognized the talent), and provided a tasty glimpse into our very near intertwined futures. Remember, as discussed in our review of Sooey’s, we never announce ourselves or our intentions to scribe the experience to the establishment. Steve was just making 8 new best friends… for life.

We are experts. We are the (self-proclaimed) best in the world at what we do. When we order, it as if an intricate symphony is being conducted. We made sure to cover the entire menu, while maintaining a strong variety among us. The Two and Three Meat Combo Plate’s dominated.

I chose the triple combo of: Fried Chicken, Ribs, and Pulled Pork, coupled with fresh Potato Salad and Smoked Cabbage wrapped with Bacon (and a hush puppy on top).

You’re going to be hard pressed to find a better stock of Fried Chicken on these Islands, let alone anywhere, then what we got at High Cotton. A strong spiced breading and absolutely soft and tender consistency makes them stand out amid strong company. The Carolina style Pulled-Pork is absolutely excellent, as to be expected. Let’s get back to the Ribs though.

These are GIANT pork Ribs. It’s hard not to get a bit mush mouthed and stammer on and on about these. These are the main event though. And I will speak for myself, and only myself here. I have had Ribs all over Duck, Nags Head, Kill Devil Hills even. These are the best ribs running right now that can be bought in the Outer Banks. They are not over sauced, which is a cheap and easy way to rely on the quality of a sauce to carry a poorly crafted Rib. Here we maintain the perfect balance between thick and firm meat, and sweet and tangy Carolina sauce. Best Ribs in the OBX. Prove me otherwise, I’d love to hear an opposing argument.

I went with the Potato Salad and special Smoked Cabbage in an attempt to differ from my compatriots. They went with more classic Mac & Cheese and Baked Bean fare. In speaking with all of them, these were excellent choices, but I wanted to allow High Cotton to show some diversity. The Bacon Wrapped Smoked Cabbage is at first glance an item may you to have an acquired taste for.  It’s possible this item really isn’t for everyone. Cabbage alone could scare away some picky eaters. The cabbage roll is actually very sweet, and I would not be surprised to find out there is a brown sugar or molasses glaze. The smokey flavor, and incredibly soft consistency made them a solid choice for me as a BBQ side.

Our meal was concluding just as High Cotton was really starting to fill up. Steve caught back up with us, and stole the show. Understanding we were 8 single fellas, he informed that to split the bill all we needed was to inform the kind gentlemen at the counter what we had, and he would just ring it up right there. Genius in it’s simplicity. When ready to leave, we were all cashed out within 5 minutes. We walked out in a BBQ induced haze, still attempting to process what we just experienced.

We knew we liked High Cotton prior to this experience. After this go around, in our eyes they have established themselves as one of the leading BBQ establishments in the Outer Banks. Find them on Facebook HERE, or visit their website HERE.

If you have to get away from your daily grind, we recommend these beaches. If you need to engorge yourself teetering on the edge of food coma… High Cotton is the place to do it.

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