"Very few pits can get every meat right, and Swig & Swine has found its waterloo in the form of brisket," declared critic Hanna Raskin back in August. This week, another reviewer finds fault with the West Ashley eatery's red meat offerings. City Paper correspondent Allston McCrady states:
The brisket, though, needs help — tough and chewy, not even a heavy squirt of sweet red sauce or a mouthful of baked beans could salvage a single cottony bite. It exemplifies my biggest beef (pun noted) with Swig & Swine. With the exception of the excellent pulled pork, meats tend toward the dry side, some blatantly so, like the hunk of unappetizing pork belly that I laid to the side.
And while McCrady writes plenty of complimentary things about the other menu items, fans are not happy that another critic dares to question pitmaster Anthony DiBernardo's interpretation of brisket. As of noon, more than 60 comments on the Swig & Swine Facebook page defend the barbecue place as the top spot in town, and many are declaring DiBernardo's brisket the "best they've ever had."
Beef barbecue isn't typical to South Carolina (we're a pulled pork state), and most aficionados will tell you to go to Texas for good brisket. Perhaps these Facebook quarrels are a matter of taste, or perhaps the masses are bereft of a real-deal brisket experience. Raskin, an expert in the field of smoked meats, gives a bit of insight as to what it isn't supposed to be:
As a longtime certified barbecue judge, I've learned to dread brisket-judging duty: Not only is brisket easy to botch, but bad brisket is among the worst of messed-up meats. It's dry, tough and - all too often - the victim of off-tasting dry rubs and chemical-flavored Liquid Smoke.
Have you sampled the Swig & Swine version? What are your thoughts? Let the debate carry on.