Barbecue Kitchen, College Park GA

We finished up what I termed as our barbecue road trip two Saturdays ago at a little place in College Park hidden just off the interstate. It’s a very old little joint called Barbecue Kitchen, and I had never heard of it until the good folk at added it to their small list of reviewed restaurants here in Georgia. It’s very easy to find, just off I-85 going south after the Downtown Connector has split, and I am surprised, now that I have been here, that I never heard of it before. In all the many conversations and lists about barbecue in the Atlanta area, this place has remained one of the city’s best-kept secrets.

It must be said that, however, that my kids didn’t enjoy it at all, and rather wished that it had remained a secret. On the other hand, happily, I had a simple, good meal here and quite enjoyed the experience. Several months ago, I wrote a chapter about The Old Hickory House in Dunwoody, reflecting how this fading restaurant is not at all what it used to be. Barbecue Kitchen is exactly how the Old Hickory House used to be. It was like stepping back in time thirty years to when that place was packed, loud and vibrant.

While my meal was indeed very good, I really was not able to finish it. We tried sharing plates and small portions at our earlier destinations, but Barbecue Kitchen absolutely leveled us with the amount of food that they pile in front of guests. I coined the phrase “insane metric buttload of food” to describe how much was put in front of me. Even if I was not already satisfied by our small meals in middle Georgia, this would have been too much for me to finish. This place gives you free refills on your vegetables, probably with the understanding that nobody’s going to be hungry enough after a first course to still be wanting more.

So this time out, we decided that I would order a barbecue plate, and Marie would get three veggies, and the kids would each get a single side and a dessert. Now, maybe I was stymied by pork-goggles or something, but that looks like a really gigantic pile of food that our server, a delightful lady who, saucily, would not divulge how long she’d been with the restaurant, but conceded that her husband would often bring her to supper here when they were dating, laid down in front of me. I wouldn’t really call any of it exceptional, but very good comfort food. I enjoyed the stew best of all. The sauce, very thick and amazingly sweet, got Marie’s seal of approval. She also enjoyed her green beans and creamed corn.

For their desserts, the kids each had a slice of cake. My son had coconut and my daughter had red velvet. They had been very good on this road trip and deserved them, I thought. Normally, the cliche is that you can get dessert only if you clean your plate. On this trip, nobody cleaned their plates. We were all completely stuffed. The lesson learned, perhaps, is that the next time we do a little eating tour, we need to space the restaurants out a little bit more. Two small meals and one gigantic one in such a short afternoon simply does not work!

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