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Sunday, October 26, 2014

Smokebelly in Buckhead: Really?

Warning:  The following may inappropriate to children under 13 and those who enjoy their ribs smoked

Smokebelly has a lot going for it.  Perfect location, the proprietors of two very quality spots in The Big Ketch and Tin Lizzy's and the venue is aesthetically perfect.  Tavern 99, the previous tenant had a great venue and Smokebelly improved on it.

So when I had an extremely mediocre meal I was left both hurt and confused (okay, maybe just more confused).  This place should have the pedigree to do well right?

Our great server (and he really did a good job) recommended the Disco Q Fries as a great appetizer.  When it came out, we were all disappointed.  Maybe The Tominator and  The Lopez at Fox Bros set the bar so high that a great BBQ app is now out of reach, but this couldn't even touch their ankles.

Ours didn't look this good
We then tried the Ribs (no smoky taste), Brisket (dry), Pulled Pork (ok) and the Sausage (this was really good).

Their array of sauces was extensive and they had something for everyone.  I preferred the savory, but the Carolina Gold was good as well.

Could it have just been a bad day?  Highly unlikely. The meats were just not cooked well.  And if I were to guess, the ribs were partially cooked in water.

If you are in Buckhead, I would hit the Greater Good on Roswell Road.  And if geography is not an issue, Fox Bros and Community Q are the other great choices.  And if you want unique, give a Heirloom and their brisket with Korean BBQ sauce a try.

BBQ is a hard genre to be consistent with.  I just don't think they have a handle on this yet.  Hopefully they get there.  Everything else is in place to make this successful.  If I hear that they turn it around, I will be there.

This got me thinking.  Who are the all time "They aren't what we think they are" All Stars?

Obviously, Milli Vanilli.

Jennifer Love Hewitt.  Wasn't she going to be the biggest star at one time?  Still scratching my head.

In Sports it has to be Bosworth, right?

Though this guy is knocking on Bosworth's door (yes, let the hate mail begin!)

Though the All Time "He is not who we thought he was" has to be The Juice, right?  How do you go from America's Pitchman to America's enemy?  Well, I guess you start by killing your wife and her boyfriend and getting away with it.  Ladies and Gents, your greatest fraud of our generation.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Shake Shack in Buckhead: A First Look (of many)

Warning:  The following may be inappropriate for children under the age of 13 and those who didn't try the meatloaf at John Harvards in the old Buckhead District

The Shake Shack anchors what is the new Buckhead.  What is the new Buckhead you ask?  It's like taking the old Buckhead and constructing the complete oppostie.  As the old Buckhead was full of dive bars and great restaurants, the new Buckhead is full of stores I will never set foot in and couldn't even tell you what they are.

Brunello Cucinelli isn't a wine bar, Jimmy Choo's apparently is not a noodle house and Hermes is not a disease that goes away with antibiotics.  But Shake Shack is a keeper.

I had the infamous Smoke Shack Burger.  It's topped with Applewood baker and the most ingenious topping of all, TOPPED CHERRY PEPPER.  Anyone who know Gino's or Pat's in Philly knows what this is.  It is the secret weapon for the countries best cheese steaks.   How has nobody put this on a burger before?  Pure genius.

As you can see, the imperfect form is one of the unique aspects.  It's cooked to order and takes 7-10 minutes to pop up.  Oh and there can be a line and it has the reputation to be a long one.

Now as good as the burger is, it's not Holeman and Finch (though the bread comes from them), Boccado or Miller Unions.  The quality of meat doesn't compare.  But for $5-10, you can't expect that either.  It's a great affordable burger that is in the class of Grindhouse Burgers or the Vortex.  Only a slight margin better.  The options are more numerous at both establishments, but I challenge you to find a better burger on their menu than the Smoke Shake.

The crinkle fries are delicious as well.

Cripy on the outside, moist on the inside
The cheese on the fries was okay.  I will go sans cheese on the next go round.

Overall, I was very happy with my burger.  The aesthetics of the restaurant were extremely impressive.  In fact, the architecture of the New Buckhead is one of the best urban designs I have laid my eyes on in Atlanta.  Anchored by what is going to be a five story Restoration Hardware, I would put the architecture up against any city district in the country.  It's almost perfection.  Now if they could only get a retailer I would actually shop at.

So for my next hangover, you will find me sitting in line at 11:30 eagerly anticipating the Smoke Shack.

Today's Footnote:

Seeing the new Buckhead unlocked my memory bank with reflections of the old Buckhead.  It was known for its own unique culinary traditions.  The burger at the Racoon Lodge was a staple of my post drinking cure.  Their Thursday Turkey and Gravy special was one of a kind and often challenged my ability to stay awake at work that afternoon.

The watering holes were almost too numerous to name.  CJ's Landing, M&A, Steamhouse, Rose n' Crown (were we saw some really crazy stuff), Tin Roof, Havana Club, Dixie Tavern, Tongue and Groove, the Living Room and Kevin Cassidy's favorite, Uranus.  All the above provided much color to my mid twenties canvas.

The Steamhouse and John Havards had the best food in the district.  And the Atlanta Beer Garden had the worst beer ever, as well as the most ironic name.  Two sips from their microbrew gave you a hangover in 2 hours.  You could find a better watering hole in Lebanon. In fact, two of their "homemade" beers made your head hurt and your ears ring like you were witnessing "The Running of the Tanks" in downtown Beirut.

So thank you Ray Lewis for January 30th, 2000, "The Day Buckhead Died."  So instead of the half naked coed swinging in Mako's, we are staring at $500 high heeled shoes in the same space.  I guess this is called progress.