Barbecue Street is that great big barn of a restaurant that everybody passes on their way to the incredibly popular Big Shanty Smokehouse. Well, perhaps I should clarify that a little. They’ve been in business for a good while, so they must be doing something right, and it is hardly fair to dismiss them so easily, but there’s a little truth to that.
I have mentioned in several entries here that I have observed reliable and popular older restaurants in this area being overlooked by bloggers, and by critics at the AJC or Creative Loafing, in favor of newer, trendier restaurants. To be sure, in many cases, like Big Shanty, the newcomer is presenting a really, really impressive product. Following trends and trying to catch the same audience as everybody else in this hobby, many of us flock to the same places. Older joints like this one, or a pile of other barbecue places that I could name, are just the places that people drive past without noticing.
So despite being in business under this name for about twelve years, the only online discussion that I can find about it is John Bickford’s From My Table (7/17: site down). Even the many barbecue bloggers that I follow who do not use Urbanspoon have not stopped by for a visit. For many years prior to its current incarnation, this place was known as Bell’s Barbecue. The family sold the business in late 2000. I can’t find any evidence that Bell’s made it onto anybody’s radar either, apart from sixty-eleven of those stupid, outdated area restaurant guides that Google still finds. I’d say that those things should be nuked from orbit instead of cluttering up my search results, but I did just learn that the very nearly defunct chain Red’s Backwoods BBQ once had an outlet in Kennesaw while trying to find some history of Bell’s, so I suppose they still serve some purpose.
I honestly don’t remember who told me about Barbecue Street many years ago. Somebody mentioned it in 2004 or so, and I took the children for supper one evening. I thought that the food was pretty good, but there was something about their kids’ meals that I didn’t like or appreciate. On a tight budget then, and needing to save money via kids’ meal combos, whatever it was prompted me to pass on returning for quite some time.
So Barbecue Street had been on our to-do list since we began the blog, but we never found the time to get over there before this past Christmas. Dave and Shaindle were in town for the holiday, and we were looking for a barbecue place that was open on Christmas Eve. Happily, this place was staying open just late enough to accommodate us, although I’m sure the staff was anxious to lock the doors behind us. My appreciation for their kindness and patience.
The food preparation here is very similar, but not identical to, the Hudson’s Hickory House style. (Please see that entry for links to the handful of other places we have visited that use it.) The meat does not come drowned in the thin, red barbecue juice, as I’ve termed it, but the pork tastes similarly moist and really does want some kind of sauce. The table sauces are thicker than what the other restaurants in this category are known for, and the Sweet Onion sauce that From My Table enjoys is probably my favorite.
They offer the same incredibly hot red pepper-freckled mustard sauce that the other restaurants like this have, and the stew is similarly thick and onion-packed. Despite the familiar bottles and identical taste, our server assured us that the sauces are all mixed in-house, trumping my notion that there’s a Hudson’s delivery warehouse sending this mustard sauce to so many restaurants west and northwest of Atlanta.
My poor daughter decided that she wanted hot wings. I enjoyed a little bit of some pretty good chopped pork, fries and stew, and then switched plates with her, as her wings were “too hot.” They were not. I think this daughter of mine should stick to lemon pepper or mild if she’s going to order wings in the future.
This certainly isn’t a bad restaurant, although I am a little bemused by reports that it’s really the catfish where this place excels. The next time I’m in the mood for catfish, I’ll pop back up here. It’s the least I can do after we kept these good people late on Christmas Eve.