In early June of 2022 I took off on my Appalachia and Back Tour. I was invited to come perform in a great little club in Sparta, North Carolina and that was the impetus for the whole trip. Upon leaving the first morning, with little time to spare, I received a call from the rental car company that they did not have a car for me, but might by 10:00 am. I had a six hour drive and a time change to contend with. I could not wait until 10:00 am to leave. Which I told the staff member in less than kind terms. I hadn't wanted to put these nearly 3,000 miles on my personal vehicle, but was left with no choice. I loaded everything into my old Ford Escape and everything went smoothly. I was touring through portions of the country that I had never visited before, let alone played in. Fortunately, the receptions were warm, where it was received. There are always highs and lows when you spend that much time on the road. Especially by yourself. Especially if you have to leave behind a wife that is nearly six months pregnant. However, the highs surely outweighed the lows and the tour was a great time. I am optimistic to get back out to that part of the country for more performances and more sightseeing. The New River Gorge Bridge and it's associated National Park were a beautiful site to a flatlander like me. The hills and mountains of West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina made for an incredible backdrop. I also hit some less natural sites. My first stop in West Virginia ended up being an unscheduled stop at The Moth Man Museum. A quirky little spot that had some great history and an interesting story, if you're one to believe it. The Moth Man legend in this area is predicated upon being seen perched atop a bridge moments before it collapsed into the river and folks lost their lives. An unwelcome story after you drove over two similar suspension bridges to get to the museum. I'm not sure I've been converted, but I do know that valley had more turkey vultures than I had ever seen. The other strange spot I had been planning to visit was The Mystery Hole. An out of the way attraction that will disorient you beyond belief. Black lights. Uneven floors. The defiance of gravity. A mystery indeed. I should have made a better attempt at getting more baked beans in on this trip. For the sake of the blog. But, the areas I went through had so many regionally famous dishes, that I felt obligated to try those too.
You don't care about a Kentucky Hot Brown (though you should), you're here for beans.
I was excited about getting into a different part of the country to see how they handle their barbecue and their baked beans. I will say, that if this place is an accurate depiction of how West Virginia does barbecue, they need to go back to the drawing board. This isn't a rack of ribs blog, but that was my main course to go along with the beans. It feels worth noting that these were probably the worst ribs I've ever had. In a restaurant or done by a home cook. The back skin was completely in tact, making the bones hard to separate. They were also drenched in a "barbecue" sauce that tasted more like pizza sauce than anything else. But, the side dish is what we're rating, so let's get to it. These beans were served up in a small, ceramic cup. A very small offering and they were luke warm at best. This was a single bean offering and those beans were swimming in sauce. I'd have been more apt to call this a soup than a side dish. The sauce was cloyingly sweet. Aside from being lukewarm, there was also no heat when it came to spices or seasonings for this side dish. The beans also lacked any sort of smoke flavor or aroma, which I'd expect at a barbecue restaurant. In terms of consistency, these beans were completely over cooked. There were no veggies or meat added to this dish to break up the sweet, mushy dish they call "House Baked Beans". It is unfortunate that this was my one stop for beans, because these were definitely a generic, industrial sized can of beans poured into a holding pan and served up to unsuspecting visitors. I can picture the cans now. A gallon in size. With a plain, white label that just says "BEANS" in black, block lettering.
Ratings (On a scale of 1-5)
Total Score: 3
For what it's worth,
Laconia Brewing Company in Sparta, North Carolina: 5