Decatur, GA 30030
Vegans, organics, locals, vegetarians, food snobs, and BBQ lovers...Did we miss anyone? Burnt Fork BBQ aims to please...everyone. I know the whole adage about "when you try to please everyone...blah blah blah." We came as BBQ lovers to burnt fork and that's all we really cared about. I'll admit that it's nice to see "hormone free" and "local" on the menu, but the real test is what you can do with that piece of meat. All of that doesn't mean a thing if the food isn't cooked properly.
We don't visit the Decatur area that much, and I wish I did more. There are a lot of cool places/people and Burnt Fork BBQ fits right in. Only being open for a little over a year, I've already heard a lot of good things from people I trust. They've got the whole "old, renovated convenience store mixed with industrial metals, exposed ceilings" vibe down. The indoor, stainless steel smoker faces away but looked like a pellet smoker...possibly a Cook Shack. I've mentioned some places that happen to do great things with these types of smokers, but please don't think that every thing that comes out of them is always gold. There is still room for error that has a LOT of BBQ joint owners scratching their heads. My dad always used to tell me that "When you're aiming a bow, it's not about the arrows, it's about the Indian." Just because a lot of guys have mastered these smokers, it doesn't mean that it's that easy.
We got to Burnt Fork pretty early at around 11:30. Being the only diners there, we looked over the interesting menu which features items from "Smoked Beef Brisket" to "Tofu Spring Rolls." I bet you can guess which one we ordered. Along with the brisket, we ordered ribs, brisket nachos, and a pulled pork sandwich. They boast of their Brunswick stew so we tried that along with some mac 'n cheese and homemade sweet potato chips. If you need it, they've got a couple different sauces to accommodate most preferences.
No food distributor tortilla chips here. We had freshly fried pieces of tortilla topped with small bits of brisket and cheese on our nachos. Be warned that the amount of cheese and brisket is minimal (is there ever enough?). Not a lot to say about this dish, although it did tide us over until the rest of our food came.
I've made a lot of briskets...more bad ones than good. After you make a couple, it's easier to spot what went wrong. It doesn't mean it won't happen again though. The brisket had a thick dark crust with a lot more going on than just your salt and pepper rub. The smoke ring and smoky flavor was nonexistent. The tough meat and white, not clear, fat proved that it could've used a lot more time in the smoker. When the fat in a brisket reaches the right temperature it will become translucent letting you know it's done and everything's rendered down properly.
The same went for these trimmed spare ribs. A little extra time in the smoker would have taken these smokeless, hard-to-tear ribs to another level. They don't go lightly on the complex rib rub so be ready for the flavor.
The pulled pork sandwich was fantastic. A mound of moist, freshly pulled pork sat perched on top of slices of toasted, golden, buttery bread that's made in-house. Upset that we didn't just order a double order of pork, the sandwich was finished immediately leaving no trace behind. There's not a lot of smoke on this pork, but right mix of bark to pork gave the sandwich texture while not taking away from the actual pork flavor. When we tried the Brunswick stew, I was satisfied. It's nothing that's life changing, but the right mixture of sweet and tangy was a nice side to the wonderful pulled pork sandwich.
From a BBQ lovers perspective and nothing else, the pulled pork here exceeded any expectations. I would highly recommend the sandwich if in the area. While I'm not a fan of extremely overcooked meat, our brisket and ribs could've both used some more time in their pellet smoke sauna.