Well, I just heard from my most excellent compadre Jeff Maloney, in New York City, about a place the eastern part of North Carolina I have never tried, The Skylight Inn in Ayden.
Jeff and I have been friends for longer that either of us cares to recall. I trust his judgement of fine food implicitly. We have sampled all manner of fine fare from Los Angeles to Aspen to New York, and a whole bunch places in between. I can say without qualification that his knowledge of where to find the real goods has always been right on the mark. So here is his brief clue to where to sample some of the best Q in all of the Piedmont. Here’s what he has to say about the Skylight:
Over the years I have gone on pilgrimages to North Carolina in search of the best East Carolina style bar-b-cue. And while there are many fantastic places to try, I highly recommend a trip to The Skylight Inn, in Ayden, North Carolina. For my money and my taste buds, it’s the best there is.
So Here’s the deal on the fare at the Skylight: It’s Carolina all the way: Whole hog, cleaver chopped meat on a sandwich or in a small paper boat, coleslaw and corn bread (from a recipe that dates back to 1830) and that’s pretty much it. And that’s pretty much the way it has been from the time Walter B. “Pete” Jones opened in 1947.
All things must change. Pete Jones passed away in 2006 and late last year barbecued chicken and banana pudding were added to the menu. By any reckoning, the Skylight Inn is a true legend of Carolina barbecue and a not to be missed experience. If you require further affirmation, I would also point to the following links, from sources as disparate as the North Carolina Barbecue Society, Chopped Onion, and BBQ Jew:
As I said at the beginning of this post, I’ve not been to the Skyline. But on the basis of all I’ve learned about this place, I’m goin’ to Carolina in my mind. This place is ON THE “GET TO IT” list!
If YOU haven’t been to the Skyline, you might want to give it a try next time you’re anywhere near Ayden, North Carolina. And if you HAVE tried this place, the Porkchop would sure like to hear from you.
All the best to all y’all.
“Where there’s smoke, there’s meat!”
– Clarence “Porkchop” Dupree