Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Monday, December 26, 2011

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Saturday, December 24, 2011

King's Grill, Valdosta GA

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Friday, December 23, 2011

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Fox Brothers Bar-B-Q, Atlanta GA

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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Monday, December 12, 2011

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Monday, November 14, 2011

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Friday, November 11, 2011

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Friday, November 4, 2011

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Red Queen Tarts

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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Monday, October 10, 2011

Friday, October 7, 2011

English Rose, Chattanooga TN

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Sunday, October 2, 2011

Friday, September 30, 2011

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Osteria del Figo Pasta, Atlanta GA

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Saturday, September 24, 2011

Friday, September 23, 2011

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Community Q BBQ, Decatur GA

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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Friday, September 16, 2011

Monday, September 12, 2011

Sunday, September 11, 2011

LeRoy's Fried Chicken, Atlanta GA

In a recent chapter, I noted how my interest in out-of-the-way and unheralded restaurants occasionally leads me pretty far away from the trendiest of local places. But it's good to keep an eye on what's going on in town and check out what people are buzzing about. I don't get to the hawt new restaurants all that often, particularly the tableclothed ones, and I'm sometimes disappointed that location means as much as it does to some regional reviewers. Would LeRoy's Fried Chicken be getting all this attention if it was on the Square in Marietta? Almost assuredly not.

Anyway, sometimes I go eat somewhere because it's where all the cool kids are going.

They're also complaining a lot. Since opening in June, Chef Julia LeRoy has evidently been having consistency issues. Either that, or a fickle public is complaining overmuch about prices, long waits, and a lack of parking, and this and that. So I knew going in that this might not be a successful visit, but I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best. I'm glad to say that it worked out just fine.

I had a mid-length shift at work letting me out after 12:30, and so I had a couple of backup plans in case LeRoy's was too crowded. Fortunately, there was still one space in front to park. (Unfortunately, it's a complete nightmare getting back out onto Howell Mill, especially when a big truck is five hundred feet ahead, blocking the lane while unloading!) It's all outdoor seating here, with only seven tables. Yes, there is a wait after you place your order, as the chicken, locally raised from Springer Mountain Farms and cooked in lard, is fried to order. They were finishing up a few other guests' orders as I waited for perhaps eight or maybe nine minutes for my food.

It looks like they have heard guest complaints about the fairly high prices here and have offered a few "combo meal" options. I had two pieces of dark meat, fresh-cut fries, a biscuit and a bottle of properly sugared Coke from Mexico for just under ten bucks. Prior to assembling a few specials for their guests, the cost would have been nearer to twelve. I'm not quite sure what the complainers are comparing these prices against to find room to argue. It seems to me that most really good lunches in the area are going to run around this price.

I think that there's simply a stigma against high-priced fried chicken, as public perception of fried chicken is something consumed in mass quantities from mediocre chains at a low price. "Feed your family" pricing at places like KFC have just dominated peoples' concept of what good chicken should cost, I guess. I found this to be a very fair price for excellent food. Admittedly, I really don't order fried chicken very often, but this was among the best that I can recall having lately. The meat was very tender, and while it was greasy, it was not disgusting. However they are prepping this chicken, they have absolutely nailed the mix of really moist and juicy meat with a crispy, crunchy crust. It was, flatly, as far removed from the food available at a Church's as a really good burger is from a Wendy's. The fries were also very good and nicely salty. The biscuit was buttery and crumbly. They thoughtfully included an extra little pat of butter. The bread doesn't need it, frankly.

Incidentally, I've been wondering about the inclusion of Mexican Coke on the menu. It's among several interesting bottled drinks like Cheerwine. I've been seeing this more frequently, buzz restaurants getting praise and attention for taking the extra step of ordering Coca-Cola with sugar instead of cane syrup. Sublime Doughnuts has been getting that in lately as well. I wonder whether this is having any impact, anywhere? Is some distributor reporting to his superior about how more of these trendsetting places are refusing to take the local corn syrup stuff and getting sugared Coke in from somebody else?

Anyway, I'm glad that I waited until it was just cool enough to make this place worth a visit. If they were stumbling when they opened in June, they've certainly got it together now. It's a delicious and fine treat that I enjoyed a great deal. Sometimes, the crowd knows what it is talking about, and sometimes a good restaurant like this can address public grumbling with excellent results.

LeRoy's Fried Chicken on Urbanspoon

(Update 10/26/11: Sadly, this experiment didn't last, and LeRoy's shuttered yesterday.)

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Monday, August 29, 2011

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Friday, August 12, 2011

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Friday, July 29, 2011

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Friday, July 22, 2011

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Friday, July 1, 2011

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Tasty Dip, Heflin AL

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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Monday, June 13, 2011

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Looking Back at Barbecue Long Gone

A heck of a lot of barbecue places have closed in the last decade. That's the findings from an informal, anecdotal study performed by myself with no scientific input whatsoever, but it's glumly inescapable.

I have mentioned before that, once upon a time, I maintained an unattractive, poorly-written Geocities page about Georgia barbecue restaurants. Curious as to whether we were close to approaching the number of shacks and joints on that list, I pulled up an old copy of it and counted them. I had 65 on the page, including a couple which only the hellbent and determined among completists would have considered visiting. Also, the goal of that page had been to document everything that I could find, good or bad, and the current blog is principally built around good meals, and not disappointments. Some of those 65 restaurants wouldn't merit a mention here.

Then I started counting down the casualties. A full third of the restaurants on that list - 22 - had shuttered. I started doing it in, I think, 2000 and stopped in early 2003. Some of the earlier closings were reflected in updates, but many others have closed since then. Here are the restaurants that I visited since lost to time:

Benny's, Atlanta: This was a place in that restaurant-packed strip mall where Johnson Ferry and Ashford-Dunwoody meet, and the owners insisted theirs was the best Brunswick stew in the city while yelling orders back and forth. "HOT, MILD OR MIX," they would bellow at you. I loved this noisy, raucous place, and was sorry to learn that it closed.

Blackstock's BBQ Barn, Lawrenceville: One of the state's longest-running restaurants, this place was open from the mid-1920s to 2008, when the owner passed away. I think you got more history here than great food, but I remember enjoying the visit.

Bucky's, Marietta: This place was on Sandy Plains in that Publix strip mall in the space where a Laredo is now, which was too large for them, and they literally closed within a month of me moving to this side of town. I tried not to be offended.

Bulluck's Eastern North Carolina Styled BBQ, Norcross: I remember being really disappointed in this place, back before I learned the differences in how pork is prepared in various regions, thinking, wrongly and naively, that it was all about the sauce. They seem to have evolved into a catering-only business before evaporating, never giving me the chance to correct my mistake.

Bunk House, Crawford: This was a place that I always drove past between Athens and the mighty Paul's BBQ in Lexington. I finally decided to stop in, and concluded I'd have been better off driving the eight or so miles on to Paul's. They shuttered in 2001 or so.

Carither's, Athens: Man, I miss this place! They were terrific, with awesome hash, and hot sauce that was like rocket fuel but somehow still brought out the flavor of the pork. I even liked this place for the way they'd throw your styrofoam plate of food in the microwave for ten seconds before serving it to you, which should not have worked at all, and they had the best sweet tea in the world, bar none. They closed in late 2006 or 2007.

Champ's Real Pit Bar-B-Q, Smyrna: Located on South Cobb Drive about one traffic light away from the popular and long-lasting Old South, Champ's has been closed for years but the building's still for sale. Cobb County cops often meet in the parking lot. They served pretty good sliced pork and their TVs were always tuned to CMT and cranked to ear-splitting volume.

Corky's, chain: A Memphis-based franchise that had a pricy plate of corporate slop. There were one or maybe two stores in the area. I tried it once in Duluth and thought it even worse than Sonny's.

Dusty's, Atlanta: I miss this place a lot, too, and lots of others feel the same. I remember being unimpressed on my first visit, but gave them another chance and concluded they were just off that one time. Great meat and excellent sides... oooh, that corn was so darn good.

Ed's Mesquite BBQ, Alpharetta: This fellow had his sign up for what seemed like more than a year, but when the business finally opened, it only lasted about eight months. Quite the opposite of Dusty's here, as subsequent visits showed the quality of everything from the food to the servers deteriorating with each passing week.

Famous Dave's, chain: This national chain had at least three locations in the metro Atlanta area, but they pulled up stakes and moved a couple of years ago. I always thought they were easily the best barbecue chain, as chains go. They still have plenty of stores in other markets, including Nashville.

J.B.'s, Athens: I had a pretty good meal here once, enlivened by the wonderful staff. The building once housed Walter's BBQ in the 1980s - R.E.M. were memorably photographed here by Laura Levine and wrote a B-side for the place - and was briefly the home of another, Hollis Ribs, which sadly closed in the summer of 2011. As of the fall, it was the home of a hot dog and sausage joint. Here is one of Ms. Levine's iconic photos of R.E.M.

Kennesaw BBQ House, Kennesaw: I only ate here once and thought it was pretty good. Apparently it had been around a while, but vanished around 2004 or so.*

One Star Ranch, Alpharetta: There used to be three Rib Ranches around town. This one became One Star in the late '90s and served up pretty good Texas-styled barbecue until it shut down in 2010.

Pavlov's Pit, Tybee Island: When you drove onto the island, this place was almost immediately on your left, I think. They had a really good mustard sauce. Gone for years, evidently.

Raleigh's BBQ & Blues, Decatur: This place had, hands down, the best roasted corn that I've ever tasted, and the pork was pretty good, too. They were around the corner from Eddie's Attic and didn't last very long.

Red's Backwoods BBQ, chain: I think that there were only a couple of these in Gwinnett and Hall County. It was pretty corporate, but small, and I really liked the sauces. It would appear that there is still a single restaurant left, down in Boca Raton, Florida.

Rocking Hog, Alpharetta: I'm not sure what's in this location (Kimball/Abbots Bridge and Jones Bridge) these days; it is one of those cursed spots where nothing lasts for more than a few months. In 2002, this was a big family-friendly corporate-looking place with some excellent barbecue, far too big for the crowd. We ate here several times before they shut down and had a great meal every time, but they only lasted about half a year.

Rockin' Rob's, Decatur: This was the previous incarnation of what is presently Maddy's, a very good place that I should revisit soon. I think one of their owners might have left, or something. Like I say, this isn't really scientific. On that note, it's perhaps surprising just how few of the very popular and trendy ITP BBQ joints that I actually end up visiting. I've only been to Fox Brothers once - loved it - but haven't tried Community Q or DBA like everybody else seems to. I should probably rectify that one day. Anyway, before it was Rockin' Rob's, it was a kosher BBQ place that I, snobbishly and stupidly, never visited because I was a young punk who insisted that barbecue was pork and pork was barbecue and I had no interest in trying anybody's beef or chicken. Idiot. Before it was that place, it was an Old Hickory House. That's at least four barbecue restaurants in the same place going back forty years or so, which is pretty impressive in its own weird way.

Springhouse, Athens/Winder: I'll never forget this place's hideous little mascot, a frightening half-pig half-chicken beast. I never knew what the heck these guys were thinking, designing such an ugly critter. Anyway, they were in Athens for years and they moved to Winder for a while before returning to Athens and closing. I think I only ate there when they were in Winder and wasn't really impressed much.

Texas BBQ, Marietta: This was on Delk Road just west of I-75 and didn't last very long. I seem to remember that they had a somewhat impractical two-story dining room and that the fellow at the counter took the unusual step of telling me that I would enjoy the chopped beef more than the pork, and I should order it instead.

US BBQ & Grill, Atlanta: Of this place, not even the building exists anymore. It was where that Piedmont Hospital-affiliated medical building on Howell Mill Road right at I-75 now stands. Once upon a time it had been a Copper Kettle - remember those? - but for its last three or so years, it was this very good little barbecue place which served up at very low prices. I ate here a lot, got out of the habit, and before I knew it, the property had been razed at the same time that the old Castlegate Inn property was sold to become that huge development across the street.

Do you remember any of these restaurants? Can you recall any other Georgia barbecue places that are no longer with us? Share in the comments if you would like.

*(11/11/11) I learned today that the Kennesaw store was an outpost of Fred's Bar-B-Que House of Lithia Springs, which is still going strong and commanding ridiculously big lunch crowds. The Kennesaw location indeed shuttered in April, 2004. More on this when I write up my visit to Fred's a little later in the month.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Pit Boss BBQ, Hapeville GA

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Saturday, May 7, 2011

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Transmetropolitan, Athens GA

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Sunday, May 1, 2011

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Bill's Bar-B-Q, Hull GA

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Monday, April 25, 2011

Monday, April 18, 2011


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Saturday, April 16, 2011

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Friday, April 1, 2011

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Monday, March 21, 2011

Monday, February 28, 2011

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Sconyers Bar-B-Que, Augusta GA

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Saturday, January 29, 2011

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Oink Joint, Zebulon GA

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Monday, January 24, 2011

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Miyako, Austell GA

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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Nu-Way, Macon GA

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Saturday, January 1, 2011