(Left) Manseur Zand and (right) a photo from a previous Native American Night. Willow Creek Inn’s 21st Native American Night Celebration is this Saturday, October 18th at 6 PM.
(Photos Courtesy Willow Creek Inn)
Wayne Howard Staff Reporter
Barbecue, Bar-B-Q, or B-B-Q...whichever way you choose to spell it, most people like some form or other of the stuff. I once had a co-worker take me to what was supposed to be (his opinion and a lot of food critics, too) one of the best barbecue places in Texas.
He asked me how I liked the brisket and I told him, "there's just one thing wrong. You Texas folk miss out on the first step in making good barbecue. First item on the check list is "kill a pig."
I have enjoyed some good beef barbecue, and I have eaten my fair share of barbecued chicken, but as a born and bred North Carolinian, I am mostly fond of pork barbecue.
My favorite way to enjoy it used to be a pig pickin' with lots of cold, amber-colored beverage, but I gave up alcohol a few years ago. I still enjoy barbecue although it has been many years since I went to a genuine cook-it-all-night and party hearty the next day pig pickin'.
When Wendy's decided to invade the barbecue world, I decided to give them a try. Some say your expectations are often fulfilled, so if you weren't expecting it to be good, it probably wouldn't be.
How was Wendy's Pulled Pork sandwich? Passable. They offer it in sweet, smoky and spicy variations and the counter girl said she liked the sweet best, so I said, "fine, that's the one I'll try."
For comparison purposes, although I've enjoyed the barbecue from Bar-B-Q King and Sweetfire BBQ many times (and have never been disappointed with either), I bought one of each of their barbecue sandwiches on the same outing. The Wendy's sandwich and the one at Sweetfire cost the same; Bar-B-Q King's was 50¢ less.
The Sweetfire sandwich was the largest of the group. Wendy's gave a decent amount of meat, but the bread was a bit large (vertically, not horizontally). While bread is necessary to make a sandwich, it's mostly a way to hold the ingredients together, and unless it's something REALLY special, it's not what makes a sandwich enjoyable.
While the Bar-B-Q King's King sandwich (larger version) was slightly smaller, it was still more than ample They provided an extra miniature container of sauce, and their sauce tended to have a little stronger vinegar taste than that of Sweetfire. I personally am an Eastern North Carolina barbecue fan, so that suited me quite nicely.
Any one of those sandwiches was satisfactory. I personally would give Sweetfire and Bar-B-Q King both an A+ and Wendy's was frankly better than I expected--although still no real competition to those local competitors.
I tried Hannah's awhile back and was not impressed, but maybe it was a bad day for me...so I'll try them again. I'm also going to try Race City BBQ in Denver. They've also got a location in Belmont and I understand they sell the eastern style barbecue, so if expectations lead to results, I'll probably find them enjoyable. I've eaten the barbecue from the Home Place restaurant on occasion, and found it satisfactory and Mitchem's Kitchen serves up some decent barbecue, too.
I've made myself hungry just writing about barbecue. Your opinions on the subject are not only welcome but invited.At anywhere from $25 to $100 a pop, it's unlikely that many people would consider dining at Willow Creek Inn on more than an occasional basis. Manseur Zand, who years ago came to Lincolnton to run the Lincoln House (at that time the nicest restaurant in town) has turned the out-of-the-way establishment into a prime location for parties and special dinners that draws more clientele from Hickory and Charlotte than from Lincoln County.
He offers a Persian New Year celebration, special dinners for holidays including Thanksgiving, Easter, Mother's Day, etc. This weekend, it's time for this 21st Native American Night Festival. I told him, it's hard for me to believe you've been doing this for 21 years!
The number attending varies, but on one occasion, he had over a hundred tents spread over the meadow. A huge bonfire offers the opportunity for campers to toast marshmallows and make s'mores. There's native American song, dances and storytelling. Some enjoy camping and breakfast on Sunday morning. Others come just for the evening. The event begins at 6 PM on Saturday and reservations are required. For more information you can call 704-276-1111 or visit the website at http://www.thewillowcreekinn.com. Willow Creek Inn is located at 3083 Wyant Road in Vale.
Oh, by the way, the price for the Native American Night is $40 per person, children under 15 half-price, and no charge for children 7 and under.
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