4401 Shallowford Road
Roswell, GA 30075
Grand Champion BBQ is pretty new to the Georgia BBQ scene. When I say pretty new, I mean that their grand opening was just a couple weeks ago on August 11th. Even though the restaurant has just been around for a couple of weeks, it doesn't mean that these guys are any strangers to BBQ. Grand Champion is co-owned by Greg Vivier and Robert Owens. I briefly spoke with Owens today who confirmed some of the rumors I've heard that he used to work with the crew over at Sam's BBQ 1 in Marietta. If you've been following the Georgia Barbecue Hunt at all, then you'd know we speak highly of Sam Huff's operation over in East Cobb. Sam's BBQ 1 used to be Sam and Dave's which Sam Huff, Dave Poe, and Dave Roberts all had their hand in. Each of them have went on to have their own establishments that are becoming increasingly popular in the Georgia BBQ scene.
Grand Champion humbly sits in a Publix shopping center located in Western Roswell. The sign only reads "BBQ" at this point, but once you're inside there's no denying that "Grand Champion" status BBQ could be on the carving tables behind the counter. They've only been around for a short time but the wave of smoke in the restaurant smells as if it's been caked on from years of smoking meats. You order at the front, take a number, and then have your food brought out to you. The staff here was all very pleasant and helpful. Since this was my first time visiting, I went with the sampler which includes chicken, brisket, pulled pork, two back ribs, sausage, and two sides. Baked beans were my first choice and since I've heard great things about their mac 'n cheese, I indulged and paid the extra 25 cents for the premium side. This meat feast doesn't come cheap at just under $22 with no drink. I confidently placed my order and then headed to the nearest booth to wait for my food.
Grand Champion offers two BBQ sauces to complement your meats. The first is a delicious sweet and smoky, tomato based Kansas City style sauce. The other is a bland, oily North Carolina style vinegar sauce. I obviously wasn't a fan of the vinegar sauce. It lacked enough flavor to really do anything for me. After about five minutes of waiting, my food arrived on a butcher paper lined metal tin. I love this. I felt this formality fits nicely somewhere between flimsy styrofoam plates and a formal dinner setting. The food was the star of the show here though. It looked amazing and smelled even better. I started off with the pork back ribs. They were honestly some of the best that we've tried to date. They're served dry, but were so tender, juicy, and flavorful that I wish I had ordered a whole slab. The rib meat wasn't mushy or overdone. It was cooked perfectly. I can't say enough about their ribs. I moved on to the pulled pork which just like the ribs, was a great example of how pulled pork should be cooked. The pork had a great smoky flavor. It was tender and moist. The pork is actually pulled into pieces as opposed to shredded or chopped until every ounce of moisture has vanished. I mentioned in my previous post how a lot of Georgia BBQ places are too afraid to put some smoke into their BBQ. Grand Champion definitely breaks that mold.
After trying the pulled pork and ribs, things began to turn a little south. They were tough acts to follow, but I still believe that to be the best, every menu item you offer needs to be on the same level of quality and consistency. The chicken and brisket both had good flavor but were way too dry. The brisket was cut from the lean end which can definitely affect the moisture, but it almost crumbled when you held it due to being possibly overcooked. The sausage was just average, especially when compared to the pork counterparts.
While some of the meats couldn't hold up to their rib and pulled pork standard, these sides most definitely could. I highly encourage upgrading to the premium priced mac 'n cheese. This isn't your ordinary macaroni and cheese. It has a creamy, cheesy, buttery flavor that can certainly hold it's own against their best smoked proteins. Paired with the sweet and smoky baked beans, this was a perfect end to our first visit at Grand Champion BBQ.
The ribs and pulled pork were definitely on another level than the chicken and brisket. We'll be back..