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!