Right on 'cue in Asheboro, NC

    Golfers have to eat too, so today I take some liberties and offer a brief restaurant review.  Hang in there and you will see the connection to golf, however thin.
    The restaurant is Henry James Barbecue in Asheboro, NC, named not for the guy who wrote paragraph-long sentences we English majors hated, but rather for the two partners (first names Henry and James) who opened it in the mid 1970s.  The only literature Henry James Barbecue can claim is its no-nonsense menu, a wonderful piece of non-fiction that celebrates the almighty hog in all its slow-cooked goodness.
    After an overnight visit with good friends and excellent hosts, the Harrises, at their lovely Smith Mountain Lake home in Virginia, we took the inland route toward the coast, down US 220 into Carolina, around Greensboro and into Asheboro.  Henry James Barbecue is just two miles off the highway.  Our trusty bible, "Tar Heel Barbecue," said the magic words about the restaurant's chopped pork - "moist and lean with no fat" and a "fresh roast pork taste."  Barbecue is a guilty addiction for us, and any time good ‘cue can be made to sound healthy (no fat!), count us in.
    We ordered two large plates of the chopped and one large plate of the sliced.  Both were moist and lean as advertised.  The slices were kissed with a slightly sweet, slightly peppery vinegar sauce that defines North Carolina ‘cue (and for the record, not a speck of fat on them).  The chopped pork seemed positively infused with the same sauce.  Some will find the Henry James chopped pork a little too wet, but the pork taste came shining through for us, and the sauce punched it up even more.  We liked this marriage made in the kitchen.  
    Nowhere will you eat this well for the price; the large platters, which include outstanding cole slaw, french fries and hushpuppies, were priced at $6.95, and the portions were huge.  Those accoutrements were indeed as good as the barbecue.  The cole slaw was chopped, crunchy and very wet, with a nice tartness to it.  The french fries were cut from fresh potatoes, not frozen, and weren't greasy at all, even though they had a nicely firm exterior.  The hushpuppies, those marshmallow sized drops of deep fried cornmeal that are to Carolina barbecue what Burns was to Allen, were also greaseless.  Hushpuppies, for those unfamiliar with the treat, were so named by dog owners who found that the deep-fried morsels were a cheap way to silence their yowling dogs.  In many barbecue joints, they are an afterthought, but not at Henry James.
    The Henry James offers beef ribs, which we will try next time, as well as barbecued chicken.  Service at the counter where you order and pick up your tray of food was efficient and friendly.  The place is very clean and orderly, showing a pride that comes through in the cooking as well.  The restaurant has a deserved reputation locally; as we waited for our order at 2 p.m. on a 95-degree Saturday, the drive thru was handling a steady stream of cars.  For barbecue this good, any time is the right time.
    Now for the promised golf connection.  As we neared the restaurant, we came upon the 9-hole Asheboro Municipal Golf Course designed by none other than Donald Ross.  The course was built during the Depression (1935), most likely as a government project, and for years was unrecognized as a Ross course until the town's recreation director discovered the blueprints for the original course routing.  The slope is 123, the rating 34, and the greens fees $20, making it as great a bargain as The Henry James Barbecue Restaurant.  We plan to savor both on our return trip north next month.

Asheboro Municipal Golf Course, 421 Country Club Dr, Asheboro, NC.  (336) 625-4158.  Greens fees $20 weekdays, $22 weekends.

Henry James Barbecue, 2004 South Fayetteville St., Asheboro, NC.  (336) 625-1649.  Cash only.