Monday, April 14, 2008

Arteries Hardening... North Carolina Style!

If you haven't been to Pine State Biscuits yet, you need to go. Now. Well actually, you shouldn't go now, as they're not open on Mondays, and even if they were, they'd have closed by this time (more on that in a bit). But you'd be well advised to head to this place for your next high fat breakfast binge, during their operating hours, of course. Many of you already know the story on Pine State Biscuits by now, but for those who don't: Three North Carolina transplants showed up in town a few years ago, set up a booth at the Portland Farmers' Market, and have been rockin' the place with country style biscuits over the past two seasons. I never checked 'em out at the market, not being one to stand in that half-hour line, but I couldn't help but notice the smell of their efforts wafting across the park blocks. A couple of months ago they opened a brick and mortar location on Belmont (mi calle!), in the seemingly cursed spot which formerly housed Ollie's Skate Shop. Cursed no more, apparently... PSB is doing a land office business. I stopped in for a sausage, egg and cheese biscuit sandwich to go a few weeks back. It was just portable enough to sustain me through the next five blocks to Freddy's without creating too much of a mess. On a subsequent trip, I tried their flagship sandwich, the Reggie, with a bottle of Cheerwine:

Cheerwine, incidentally, is a cherry soda which originated in North Carolina and is indigenous to the southeastern United States. Pine State "bootlegs" a special version of Cheerwine which comes in glass bottles and is made with cane sugar rather than high fructose corn syrup (reminiscent of the Mexican Coca Cola at Kenny and Zuke's). But enough about Cheerwine, and on to the Reggie: this biscuit "sandwich" is comprised of buttermilk fried chicken, local heritage bacon, Tillamook Cheddar and sausage gravy, piled inside of the eponymous biscuit. I should note that it's actually not their flagship item. That would be the Reggie Deluxe, which adds a fried egg to the madness. At any rate, this is a sandwich only in the nominal sense. You have to knock the Reggie over just to get a knife and fork into it. Surprisingly, it's not too difficult to make it through this thing. It's just enough for a hearty breakfast, as long as you're hungry (it also helps to be hungover). But if you order the Reggie, or its deluxe version, you might want to think twice about getting a side.

And while we're on the subject of sides, PSB has just two: hash browns and grits. I can't comment on the hash browns, but I did check out the grits on my last trip, along with the "Moneyball":

The Moneyball is fun to order if only because it feels like you're asking for drugs. It's a relatively simple sandwich, which comes pre-knocked over with a fried egg (perfectly runny yolk) and your choice of either sausage or mushroom gravy. I opted for the mushroom gravy, which was very tasty. Of course, it can't quite compete with sausage gravy, but I think that goes without saying. As for the grits, I can't comment with too much authority on them, not being from the South. My closest point of reference is polenta. But I will say that while good, they're no match for the cheddar grits at the Delta Cafe.

And now onto their hours: Pine State's open Tuesday through Sunday, from 7 am to 2 pm. Folks have been begging them to add dinner hours, which reportedly they're considering. I, for one, would really like to see it happen. I can't imagine a better bunch to provide P-town's food geeks with authentic vinegar-based Eastern Carolina Barbecue. But I guess we'll just have to wait and see...


kickpleat said...

hey thanks for the tip! when we go to portland we usually check out the tin shed or juniors for breakfast. we'll definitely stop here for a biscuit!

tommy said...

You'll want to try the Reggie Deluxe. It made the list of top ten sandwiches in America in some Magazine, Men's Health or something. Good stuff.