Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Community Q BBQ (Decatur, GA)

1361 Clairmont Road
Decatur, GA 30033

Community Q BBQ on Urbanspoon

Our visit to the last piece of the Sam and Dave's puzzle is now complete. We've visited Sam's BBQ 1, Dave Poe's BBQ, and even BBQ newcomer, Grand Champion. All of these restaurants somehow had their hand in Sam and Dave's BBQ located in Marietta at some time or another. All of these restaurants are successful at what they do. Two things that they all have in common; They love their Southern Pride smokers and they all pretty much use the same mac 'n cheese recipe. There are a couple different stories out there, but the most popular one is that when Dave Roberts left Sam and Dave's to start Community Q, owner Sam Huff accused him of stealing his mac 'n cheese recipe. To any of you who haven't tried this recipe...yes, it's worth confronting someone about. Dave Roberts was flabbergasted that Sam would even accuse him of "stealing" his very own Grandmother's family recipe. So he did what anyone would do. He published the recipe online for the whole world to have. Problem solved. For anyone that's interested in trying, I've posted the recipe below courtesy of AJC blog, Access Atlanta.

We visited Community Q on their second birthday/anniversary. That means we got a free t-shirt and the crowd was a little larger than usual. I made sure to get there pretty early. They're located in a shopping center (another thing all of these Sam and Dave brethren have in common) in the trendy area of Decatur. I ordered the sausage and brisket while Jamie ordered the spare ribs and pulled pork. Our sides included the famous mac 'n cheese, coleslaw, baked beans, and Brunswick stew. One thing to note is that in addition to the regular menu items, they also offer locally grown produce and homemade desserts.

When our food arrived it looked simply amazing. Jamie and I both sampled the spare ribs first. These ribs were perfect. They were smoky, seasoned, tender, and flavorful. They were gone before you knew it. The sausage we had is not homemade, but it's a close second being ordered from nearby Czech sausage company, Patak Meats. It wasn't too greasy and had great flavor. The pulled pork was also cooked perfectly. It didn't have a ton of smoke flavor, but it was juicy and tender.

One thing to note about the pulled pork is the extra step they take of wrapping in plastic wrap as soon as the pulled pork is done. This allows the meat to rest, redistributing all of the flavorful juices, while also keeping it tender. When it's ready to serve, it's like it just got out of the smoker. It's a great trick if you're having trouble with your pork drying out on you before serving. The brisket we had was solid as well. It had a nice beef flavor, but was just a tad overdone.

As for the sides...this mac 'n cheese is phenomenal. It's creamy, cheesy, thick, warm, and eats like a meal. I can certainly see why so many other restaurants use it. I would too. It's the best mac 'n cheese we've had to date. The baked beans were my ONLY complaint here. They were watery, undercooked, and had a weird, greasy flavor. Also, look out for the huge pieces of onion floating around. The coleslaw or Brunswick stew is also a great option here. 

We highly recommend Community Q to any BBQ lover. They've got a good thing going and we hope their success continues. They proudly join Fox Brothers in our Hall of Fame.
Community Q’s Three Cheese Mac and Cheese

Hands on: 15 minutes Total time: 1 hour Serves: 4

1 (16-ounce) box rigatoni noodles
8 ounces shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided
8 ounces shredded Monterey Jack cheese, divided
4 ounces grated fresh Parmesan cheese, divided
2 cups heavy cream
Freshly ground pepper (if desired), to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat and season with salt. Add pasta and cook until just tender, about 12 minutes or according to package instructions. Drain well in a colander without rinsing.
Transfer the pasta to a large bowl. Add half the cheddar, Monterey Jack and Parmesan, reserving the rest for the top. Add heavy cream and stir to combine. Taste and adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper.

Transfer the noodle mixture to a medium buttered gratin dish or casserole. Sprinkle remaining cheddar, Monterey Jack and Parmesan cheeses on top. Bake until bubbly and golden brown, 30 to 45 minutes. Remove to a rack to cool slightly before serving

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Smokejack BBQ (Alpharetta, GA)

29 South Main Street
Alpharetta, GA 30009

Smokejack on Urbanspoon

Smokejack BBQ is a cool little place in old downtown Alpharetta. I'm not sure where modern-upscale fits in the world of BBQ, but that's the best way to describe it. If dive BBQ joints are your thing, then I would definitely suggest going elsewhere. I've actually eaten here a couple times and never been too impressed, but who knew...maybe this time would be exceptionally different.

We ordered some fried pickles to start and split a three meat combo. None of the food here comes cheap. The "Mojo Combo" sets you back right under $18. We picked the pulled pork, brisket, and turkey for our meats. For the sides, we opted for baked beans and coleslaw. Smokejack does have some interesting sauces here though including a white Alabama-style sauce, a Carolina mustard sauce, a KC style sauce, and their Pasilla sauce which left the worst aftertaste in my mouth...maybe hints of cinnamon? Your best bet is probably the KC sauce.     

The brisket was a crumbly mess. Not much flavor here and fell apart when you picked it up. Strike one.

The turkey was more grilled than smoked. It even had the grill marks on it. I was looking forward to some good smoked turkey on this chilly day, and this was way off the mark. Even the texture was rubbery. Strike two.

The last meat that just might offer up some BBQ redemption was the pulled pork. After all, Georgia LOVES pulled pork done right. Unfortunately, this came up short as well. There wasn't a lot of flavor here and was kind of just a mushy, microwave-tasting mess. Strike three for Smokejack. There might be a crowd for this "upscale" BBQ, but I'm currently not part of it. The sides didn't do much for this below-average meal either.

This $18 dollar meal wasn't worth half the price. I hate seeing establishments charge top dollar for bottom shelf goods. I'd like to see Smokejack take a little more pride in their BBQ, but unfortunately I probably won't be back to see.

Friday, November 25, 2011

DBA Barbecue (Atlanta, GA)

1190 North Highland Ave.
Atlanta, GA 30306

D.B.A. Barbecue on Urbanspoon

Doing business as...barbecue. This Florida Gator haven has a love for smoked meats and obviously takes it seriously. With their restaurant only being open a couple years, they have moved up quickly through the ranks as one of the Atlanta public's favorite BBQ joints. When we recently showed up for a Georgia BBQ Hunt stop, it was a rainy Monday night and the smell of smoke was in the air. There wasn't a huge crowd here, but there really wasn't a big crowd anywhere in the Virginia Highlands area. As soon as I walked in I spoke with the man at the front of the restaurant who I quickly learned was the owner, Matt. Matt has a love for BBQ that was easily recognized within the first couple of minutes of talking to him. He was kind enough to take me on a tour, proudly showing off their new Southern Pride smoker that had recently arrived to accommodate the ever growing business at DBA. Once he finished showing me around and talking BBQ, Jamie, John, Staci, and I sat down to enjoy some of DBA's best.

Between all four of us, we ordered their highly touted smoked wings, brisket, sausage, and all you can eat rib tips. There was no way we were leaving hungry. For our sides we went with the fresh green beans, mac 'n cheese, and baked beans. I've heard first rate things about their brisket and I have to say that it was pretty darn good. It had a nice thick bark with good smoky beef flavor. The pieces I got were pretty thick, but the brisket was cooked well enough that it didn't matter. It went fast. No sauce needed here. I was a little let down with the sausage though, which isn't made in-house. It's halved and then finished on the grill which I feel leaves it a little dry. The flavor was decent but I've definitely had better sausage elsewhere. I still appreciate the fact they offer it though considering brisket and sausage rarely make an appearance at most Georgia BBQ restaurants.

The wings that we tried are first smoked and then finished in the deep fryer. The texture on these wings is perfect. They weren't overcooked and had a nice crunchy exterior. I was just a little disappointed that there wasn't more smoke flavor evident. If I would have known prior, I wouldn't have been able to tell you if they were smoked or not. The rib tips were average considering it's really hard to make exceptional rib tips. We definitely took full advantage of the "all you can eat" option though. As far as the spare ribs went, they were fresh, smoky, tender, but a little underseasoned. I'm not sure how long DBA has had their new Southern Pride smoker, but they certainly have their cook times figured out already. Our sides were average and didn't really add anything or take away anything from the meal.

One of the things worth noting at DBA is their offering of moonshine...yes, moonshine. This is something that really sets them apart from any of the BBQ restaurants that GBH has visited. They have everything from apple to lemonade flavors depending on your preference. We tried some of the Georgia corn moonshine mixed with Whynatte. I can honestly say it tasted 100 times better than it sounded and was a great end to a great night. The food here is good and the atmosphere and hospitality just makes the experience even better. These guys at DBA have a love for BBQ that I hope continues to power their success in the Atlanta area. I wouldn't be surprised if their food gets even better next time we visit.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Fox Brothers BBQ (Atlanta, GA)

1238 Dekalb Avenue
Atlanta, GA 30307

Fox Brothers Bar-B-Q on Urbanspoon

It seems like every great and sometimes every not so great BBQ place has a story worth telling. This story started in Texas. Two brothers, born and raised in Texas, moved to Georgia out of college. After putting together annual BBQ house parties for friends, they eventually started selling the near-famous BBQ at Smith's Old Bar once a week. The food was instantly a local hit and not long after, Fox Brothers BBQ was born.

When I first walked in, I instantly liked the style of this place. I'm ok letting you know that beforehand. I always want BBQ joints to succeed and live up to high standards, but at the same time it's all personal preference. The whole premise for my blog is personal preference and finding your best BBQ. Hopefully I can lead you in the right direction though. If you don't agree or like it then you can leave a comment, stop reading my blog, or even start your own. It won't hurt my feelings. It's all in the spirit of finding great BBQ though, and that's what I aim to do. The Fox brothers are proud of where they came from and I like that about them. The walls in the restuarant are sporatically covered with Texas state flags, vintage Lone Star beer signs, and sports memorabilia. It really feels like like Justin and Jonathon Fox made a cool place that they could hang out with their friends that also happens to serve BBQ. The Georgia BBQ Hunt team would shortly find out how good this BBQ was though. We walked in at about 8 PM on a Thursday and there was a pretty good crowd. We ordered a couple of Lone Stars while we perused the menu and hoped that the Fox Brothers reputation would be well fulfilled.

There are a couple of things that I had to try and you don't see very often here in Georgia. The first is Frito Pie. For those of you who have never experienced this treat, it's usually just Frito chips topped with chili, cheese, and onions. There are a ton of different variations but most all of them will include that. The other item offered is "Foxaroni." I've honestly never seen this anywhere and I'm a little surprised. It's simply Brunswick stew mixed with mac 'n cheese. I'm sure we've all had this by chance at one time or another mixed on a plate, but this side was an intentional marriage of two of the best BBQ sides you'll find. For our appetizer we ordered a half order of fried pickles and a half order of fried jalapeƱos. For a couple dollars, these lightly battered and fried veggies didn't disappoint. We tried our best to save most of our appetite for the "Everything Plate." In addition to the Frito pie and Foxaroni, we ordered the Fox Brothers homemade pork sausage, fried ribs, brisket, and pulled pork. 

The first thing that I'll say is that the Texas boys sure know how to cook some brisket. You'll be hard pressed to find better brisket anywhere in Georgia. The fat was properly rendered throughout the flavorful, tender meat all surrounded by a thick salty bark. There was a distinct, but not too heavy, smoky flavor present as well. I felt like everything really paled in comparison to the brisket we tried. And not because any of it was below average, but because they do such a good job with their brisket. The ribs were crispy and juicy, but still had a great pork flavor. The pulled pork was tender and smoky while the homemade sausage had a nice snap and wasn't too greasy. I was happy to see these guys live up to their reputation. They can hold their own anywhere, and I expect to see big things ahead for the Brothers Fox. I will definitely be back soon to sample some of their other specialties such as the smoked wings. Well done, gentlemen.