Thursday, November 20, 2014

Alternate Reality Barbeque: Sconyers Barbeque, Augusta, GA.

Walking into Sconyers Barbeque in Augusta was like traveling to an alternate reality, where everything is almost the same, yet just a

Walking up to the place, everything seemed normal. It's a nice large wooden structure just off 520. I reckon it was meant to echo a log cabin, just more immense. You walk over a nice pond to go inside, wherein things start to get weird. First off, all the female employees are dressed in what I would call "colonial wear": full skirts, corsets and bonnets. Peculiar. I'm not sure what they're going for with that. I've never once thought "I wish I had some barbeque from the 18th century". The male employees were all wearing overalls, which I assume was also restaurant policy, although I've been to a couple of barbeque places where it was just considered high fashion. Maybe if I ever come back, I'll wear my overalls and bus a few tables, just for fun.

Having a gander at the menu, I discovered they didn't serve chopped pork, but "chipped" pork. Ye olde waitress informed me it was the same as chopped. I also had to get her to explain what "hash" was. It appears they don't have proper brunswick stew here. Perhaps it was pronounced "devilish", given a scarlet letter B and rode out of towne on a rail. I don't know. What they do have is "hash", which is a kind of brunswick stew, just a more pious paste-like substance served over a bed of rice, a combination I've seen in the South exactly nowhere.

I found the pork sandwich relatively of this dimension, although the slightly off tradition continued with the pickles, which were the sweet, bread and butter kind. Land-a-Goshen, where am I? Who does that? Even the Coke I had was suspect, falling somewhere between "flat" and "diet".

Two other events solidified the peculiarity of the place: Whilst washing my hands in the restroom, a man came in evidently for no reason other than to count his substantial money roll. Also, upon leaving, a fellow with a couple extra chromosome no.21s enthusiastically bid me farewell. I'm probably going to hell for mentioning that last part, but it was a very Lynchian end to an overall strange dining experience.     

Overall score: C
Appropriate soundtrack: "Strange Days" by the Doors, "Mama Told Me Not To Come" by Three Dog Night.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Well, it depends...Old South Barbeque, Smyrna, GA

 Do I like Old South Barbeque, located just East of the intersection of Windy Hill Rd and South Cobb Drive in Smyrna? Well, it depends...

It depends on whether I'm feeling social or not. On my latest visit (the first time I'd ever been there in the evening), I was called "sweetie" so many times, I started contemplating a visit to the dentist.  Which is nothing compared to what happens when you go at lunch. There's a waitress there at lunch that insists on hugging every single patron that comes there. It's tad disconcerting the first time it happens, but you get used to it after a few visits. At least you better, 'cause it's gonna happen whether you want it to or not.

Well, is the food good? depends. There's been times I've gone there and it's been very satisfying, but there's been an equal number of times when I've left there mildly disappointed. On average, I'd say the meat tends to be a bit too smoked/dry and the stew a bit too rich. This latest visit, I splurged for the BBQ plate, which was a mistake. For one thing, I suspect the meat was leftover from lunch, and for another, it was too expensive ($12.65 as of 7/2/14). I also had to get up and ask for crackers, after which the waitress apologized profusely, the "sweeties" increasing greatly. Your best bet, quality-wise, is to go at the peak lunch hours.

I honestly want to like the place. It's very blue collar (with a touch of military, being next door to Dobbins Air Force base), which I like, and I love that it's basically an old house converted into a BBQ place. That's one reason I keep going back and giving it another try. But I find it impossible to rate it above a solid C grade, no matter how many times I'm called "sweetie".


Food: C

Atmosphere: B- with a 100% chance of lunchtime hugs

Overall: C

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Whistling Pig - Pine Mountain, Ga

 My friend Alex introduced me today to the Whistling Pig Cafe, located in Pine Mountain, Ga. He declared it probably his 2nd favorite BBQ in the state (after Fincher's in his hometown of Macon). Let's see what I think...

 The Whistling Pig certainly is my kind of BBQ place, in that it's firmly in the blue collar category. It was buzzing with customers as we stepped in. I do declare that I am quite the sucker for black and white tile! The lady at the counter was a bit brusque in her demeanor: not unfriendly, just as busy as that proverbial one legged man in a derriere motivation contest. We sat down and I did my best to avoid the interest of a very loud man seated adjacent to our table. He was in possession of a humongous plastic beverage container that said "Thirst Buster" on it. It had to hold 2 liters, if it held a drop. "Bladder Buster" is more like it. But I digress. Our plates arrived and I said hello to a rather large pork sandwich and it's companion, a bowl of Brunswick Stew:
 Our hosts were generous with the pickles, as my sandwich came with three, to which I added three more, as Alex is not as fond of them as I am. I don't know how many pickles it would take for me to draw the line, but it must be more than 6! The sandwich was very satisfying, although I would have preferred a little more vinegar kick to it. The stew, however, was disappointing, mostly because it seemed to be noticeably watered down, like the staff had added water to make it go farther. I had to deploy the crackers as absorption devices just to counteract the sogginess. 

So, in a nutshell:

Sandwich: A-
Stew: D
Atmosphere: B

Overall: B-

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Barbecue Time Machine

Yes folks, I went back in time tonight, courtesy of the Old Hickory House restaurant on Northlake Parkway. For those that don't know, Old Hickory House used to be a chain of barbecue restaurants all around the Atlanta area back in the 70's. There were quite a few of them. I fondly remember going to the one in Forest Park with my mom when I was a wee lad. I bet you've seen that one, even if you don't realize it. It stood in for a bus stop in Smokey and the Bandit ( that scene where Burt and Jackie are at the counter together).

Sadly, the Old Hickory Houses faded away. The one in Forest Park has long been bulldozed, and (what I thought was) the remaining ones had been usually re-purposed as Oga's or OB's (see my review of the now defunct OB's on Veteran's Memorial Parkway elsewhere on this blog). So it was with great glee that I discovered that there were still a couple existing: one in Dunwoody, and one in Tucker! My BBQ Blog partner ( I swear he still exists) Grant had been to the one in Tucker, so we set out tonight on a mission to go there.

Let me tell you, when I say Old Hickory House is a barbecue time machine, I mean it. It was so like the Hickory Houses I remembered as a kid, I could feel multitudes of synapses popping long dormant memories back to life in my brain. I swear even the barstools are as I remembered them! I don't think there was a single picture on the wall that wasn't 30 years old.

Oh yeah, the food: I was a bit nervous about that, because these two surviving Hickory Houses don't have the best reviews online, but I feel those reviews must be heavily Yankee-centric, because I thought the food at the Tucker location was great! Remember, of course, that I'm biased myself toward the more blue collar barbecue establishments. Those used to boutique barbecue will most likely be disappointed. But as I said, I was well pleased. The pork sandwich, especially, wins top honors. I'm not kidding. I hereby proclaim that the sandwich I had here tonight is EXACTLY what I think a barbecue pork sandwich should be. Not too big, not too expensive ($2.95) and with a pickle on it, as God intended. A working man's delight!

The Brunswick stew, however, brought me back down to reality. It wasn't bad, just average (maybe a little below), a tad too rich for my tastes. I got a combo which included the sandwich, a cup of stew and a cup of cole slaw, which was good enough to make up for the stew's mediocre performance.

So to review...

Pork sandwich: A+

Brunswick stew: C

Decor: A for authenticity!

Overall grade: A!            

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Moe's Barbecue, 14th St. and State St, Atlanta

I walked into Moe's (not to be confused with the burrito joint) in a good mood, mostly because I was on vacation and had remembered that I had been wanting to try this place out for a while, being that it was two doors down from where I once lived. You would've thought I would have something against the place, being that it inhabits the space of the former Kool Korners Grocery ( once home to the best Cuban sandwich in Atlanta), but I realize time moves on, as does progress. While it does have a bit of the "Boutique Barbecue" feel to the place, a lot of the details served to dispel that feeling, from (poorly) painted images of musicians on the wall that had to have been homemade, to a well picked playlist on the overhead speakers. Several other "imported rustic" pieces were well placed. I was pleasantly surprised to see the old Kool Korners sign hanging up inside. A nice touch for an old timer like me.
Trepidation set in, however, when I saw that the Brunswick stew was not a main menu item, but rather a special of the day. Forging ahead, I ordered the stew, my standard pork sandwich and some potato salad. The price for the plate (including a Coke) was reasonable, considering the amount of food ordered: Just shy of $10, not including tip. I sat down and awaited my order. It came pretty quickly, and I was amused to find the sandwich both smaller than normal for such establishments and wrapped in checkerboad paper. I'm a sucker for checkerboard. I was glad the sandwich was small, because I think a lot of places make the sandwich too large, making it literally a handful to hold, sometimes two handfuls. I believe you should be able to hold a barbecue sandwich with one hand and not have it fall apart on you. Moe's pork sandwich passes this test. And it tasted pretty good too, a lot closer to (my idea of) "authentic" than I've tasted in most big city BBQ joints.
The stew, on the other hand, failed at just about any criteria you could think of. It was a small portion. It was full of beans. The chunks of meat in it were way too big, especially considering the small container the stew was served in. And lastly, it just wasn't that good. Another case of someone mistaking "stew" for "soup". No wonder it isn't always on the menu.

So in review:
Sandwich: A

Stew: D

Decor: B-

Overall experience: B-

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Ballistic on BBQ

I have to admit I was already pissed when I walked into Pig-N-Chick BBQ on Briarcliff tonight. I had just came from a nearby shooting range (Quickshot, on Zonolite rd.) where my rifle had promptly jammed after 6 shots, ending up with me breaking a brand new $25 magazine I had just bought. Add the $16 dollar hourly fee I had to pay for all of 5 minutes of shooting I got to do, and you can see the mood I was in. But I was looking for comfort food and was hoping Pig-N-Chick (P-N-C from here on out) could deliver. No such luck.

Problem number 1: Pig-N-Chick is located in the old Dusty's BBQ building. I have fond memories of Dusty's and was a little sad to see they were gone. I had hoped P-N-C was carrying on the tradition. Nope. Which leads us to...

Problem number 2: The sandwich. I had hoped for the nice chopped sandwich Dusty used to serve. What I got was the same ole' gigantic pulled pork sandwich that every other new BBQ upstart sells. Huge chunks of pork on thick loaf bread. How did these things get to be so popular? I never once had one like this growing up. To me it's just pure laziness. Instead of taking the time to chop (or at least continue pulling) the meat, modern BBQ places just give you huge chunks of pig meat in a large portion, evidently hoping that quantity will overpower quality. And you're not fooling me by using the Texas (un)toast either. You're shooting for faux-BBQ cred, aren't you? You think that bread will make you legit? Well get this: BBQ is blue collar food, and when blue collar folks go to a restaurant and pay for food, they want it fancier than what they make at home. That means buns! You think I came all the way across town to eat a sandwich on loaf bread? (this falls in the same category as those Mason jars Po-Folks used to serve drinks in. Don't even get me started on those) Taste-wise the sandwich was about the same as the ones all the other restaurants serve. in other words, not distinctive. See, I was paying attention to more than just the superficial aspects of the food.

Problem number 3: The stew. Brunswick stew makes or breaks a BBQ joint in my opinion, and P-N-C's is one of the worst I've had, mostly because it wasn't stew, it was soup! This is mission 1 for making a stew: having it end up a stew, with texture, for Pete's sake. Otherwise it's just vegetable soup. FAIL!

Problem number 4: P-N-C, you charge me $1.40 for a Coke, give it to me in a CAN and then you ask me if I want a cup of ice with it? Are you F&*king kidding me? The whole meal was $8.50, which might have been okay if it was worth a flip.

What a night.

(Normally I'd put the BBQ place's address here, but I don't want you to go here, so never mind)

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Time for a change

Since this blog has started, several of the establishments have closed. Probably for good reason as we noted in the reviews. We will start a new way a rating the joints we visit. Either by a grading scale from 1-10, A-F, or some sort of audio/video clip. Stay tuned and eat more bbq.