Review Date: 09/02/15
Visit Dates: 06/06/15, 08/29/15
Wire Mill BBQ catches your eye as soon as you turn the corner onto Old Mill Road. Visit on a summer evening and chances are that the huge offset smokers (one Lang, one custom built) will be in action and the umbrella-covered picnic tables will be mostly occupied. Inside, there are a few booths, a few tables, a few more high tops and a small bar.
The restaurant gets its name from the location's past: for decades the area was home to a mill that produced wire fencing and other wire products. The outdoor bar is a converted wire spool. Chef/owner Gino Marsili, a Johnson and Wales grad, even had family that worked there. He learned the smoky arts in Georgia after meeting his native Georgian wife.
If you check Google, Yelp, Zomato, their site, my site and other sites, the town listed is sometimes Redding and sometimes Georgetown. As I understand it (and I'm not a local), Georgetown is a village in Redding and neighboring towns. Different GPS systems prefer different entries, so try both when navigating.
Parking is cramped in the tiny lot near the smokers, but you can also park in the adjacent lot to the left of the building or the lot across the street.
The mostly-barbecue menu has its share of appetizers, which are also mostly barbecue: traditional and smoked wings, fried pickles, Brunswick stew, BBQ fries topped with pulled pork and cheese, tortilla soup, a daily soup, BBQ sliders and a quarter rack of babybacks sans sides. One- and two-meat platters feature babyback ribs, pulled pork, brisket, smoked chicken and hommade smoked sausages. Sandwiches include the boneless meats plus smoked chicken salad, grilled chicken, a BLT, fried fish, a burger and a veggie burger.
I stopped into Wire Mill BBQ with a barbecue compadre for wings only on a late weekend afternoon, then hit them solo for a two-course weekend lunch.
Wings: I had to go with the smoked variety ($8.95 for six) both times, served unsauced. On the first visit, the surfaces were crisp and the flavor—while arguably subtle—was undeniably smoky. Inner moistness varied: one piece dry, one piece borderline moist, one piece fully moist. On the second visit, when I had the half dozen to myself, I noticed the same crispness and a better moistness that fell short of full-on juicy. Flavor is interesting: you taste the chicken, and you taste the fragrant smoke, but there are no other bells or whistles, so even though I enjoyed that, I can see someone finding these wings a little boring. The dipping sauce might be the antidote: what looked like a typical creamy Thousand Island dressing with cooling powers instead turned out to be thinner and much zippier.
Brisket: Tried on a 2-meat combo ($21.95), this "house specialty" presented three very long, pencil-thin slices from the flat with a smoke ring adjacent to a crusty periphery. While I wouldn't call the brisket dry, I also can't say that it was moist. For the bites near the edge that had some fat, this wasn't too much of a problem. For the other bites, time was not an ally: they got drier as they went along. Tenderness wasn't problematic but wasn't an asset. The old judging test of pulling the ends of a slice in opposite directions allowed just a little give. A horseradish dipping sauce added some welcome flavor and needed moisture. Overall, we're talking average brisket or maybe a notch just below.
Ribs: The other meat on the second visit's 2-meat combo was babyback ribs. I'd seen them on another table the last time and they looked good, so it was no surprise that they were much more visually promising than the brisket. Three good sized, thick cut ribs with ample meat on each bone showed a pronounced crusting with what appeared to be a very thin glaze on each
surface. The bite was as impressive as the appearance, findng a little
crispness in the crust and perfectly tender meat below (neither over-
nor underdone) that was fully juicy. Flavor kept pace with a
nice, porky mouthful complemented by smoke and just enough sweetness
from the glaze, though rub wasn't evident. I'd rank these babybacks well above average, possibly elite.
A few different versions are available in squeeze bottles on the table. There's a refreshing thin vinegar/pepper sauce for pork and two more (three if you count the chipotle barbecue sauce that's brought to the table by the server) that taste very similar to each other: tomatoey, sweet, tangy, spicy.
Collard Greens: Well cooked leaves in a flavorful broth. Fairly standard but nicely done.
Mac and Cheese: Small pasta pieces with a thick, tight and sharp cheese sauce. Satisfying and different.
Cornbread: On the one hand, the tiny block had a top surface that wasn't much bigger than a postage stamp. On the other hand, you have to pay extra for cornbread at the new joint up the street. Another standard rendition, close to Jiffy mix in texture and taste.
There's a new barbecue joint up the road, and I'm sure the locals have taken sides. While I prefer the newbie, I'd be a regular at both joints if I lived in the area. There are different styles and different features, and the area is big enough to have two barbecue joints, so why not support both?
The Bottom Line
A mixed bag with some hits, some misses, enjoyable outdoor seating and some babybacks that are a big step up from not only the chains but most barbecue joints as well.
JFood Eats review of Wire Mill BBQ
Yelp reviews of Wire Mill BBQ
Zomato reviews of Wire Mill BBQ