*** (4/8/2010) The Food Abides recently forwarded a picture of the short beef rib at Fox Bros, a specialty of this barbecue outfit that is only available each week on Thursday and Saturday. In addition to being about as wide as my fist, the beef rib appeared to have a well-formed black crust and smoke ring that was enticing enough that I made a return visit to taste a rib for myself. The rib was nothing short of gargantuan. Unsure how to best attack it, I started by pulling away pinches of the crust that were slightly dusted with Fox Bros seasoning. The crust was sweet while the flavor of meat confirmed that it had a nice smoke flavor (all Fox Bros' meat tastes slightly oversmoked in my opinion) and the fat had been well-rendered into the beef. The seasoning complemented the flavor of the smoked meat, but the flavor got a little monotonous towards the end of this dining experience. Nonetheless, I still made my way through the entire rib until I was basically examining the bone for any potential remaining residue. I'm a gluttonous eater, so this dish definitely fit my billing. In retrospect, the rib was executed well but I'm still not as big of a fan of the barbecue at Fox Bros' in comparison to what appears to be most the locals in the Atlanta area. ***
(9/8/2009) Sharing the common concern regarding the lack of good/great barbecue in the city, Jonathan Fox progressed from a typical backyard barbecuing experimentalist to an official barbecuer caterer on Wednesday nights at Smith's Olde Bar on the corner on Monroe Drive and Piedmont Avenue. Mr. Fox honed his skills and developed a following that warranted recently opening a restaurant called Fox Bros. BBQ. Its located on DeKalb Avenue a few blocks south of Little Five Points. The restaurant's following grew and it is now evaluating expanding into a second location.
I visited Fox Bros. within the first few days of moving back to Atlanta in August, and I remember being impressed by the authenticity of the barbecue. Fox Bros. specializes in Texas-style barbecue and offers brisket, ribs (not beef however), and pulled pork whereas the typical local barbecue restaurant serves finely chopped pork with a strong vinegar and cayenne-based sauce. Now that I have had the pleasant experience driving across the country eating a wide array of barbecue, I wanted to return to Fox Bros. to see how it held up against the rest.
I took a seat inside to shield myself from the 83 inches of torrential downpour in Atlanta. I briefly browsed the new revamped and aggressive menu although I knew I was going to re-order the 3 meat plate. During my first experience, I was informed that Fox Bros. considered chicken wings as one of the available meats in the platter so I obviously jumped on that. As an aside: the only food I like eating more than barbecue is chicken wings. A fraternity brother had once curiously asked one of my ex-girlfriends what it was like dating me. Her response: "He eats chicken wings with two forks." How profound. I had read that the brisket was great at Fox Bros. so I ordered the brisket, pulled pork, and baby-back rib plate. Oh, and they served fried pickles and jalapeños too. Got that money combination as an appetizer. The waitress was definitely impressed by my aggressiveness towards eating.
Learning from a past mistake, I definitely did not even contemplate ordering the jalapeño poppers without Fester's permission (once got into a 'scene' at Ri Ra over jalapeño poppers - no joke - ask Angela "Pookins" Glynn). If I'm/we're lucky, Fester will write a guest post to discuss this night and any and all stories regarding the Pizza Pirates. In brief, the Pizza Pirates order delivery pizza and decide which guy will take the door while the others hide in the bushes near the driveway. When the delivery man approaches the door with their pizza in hand, the other Pizza Pirates who are waiting deafeningly quiet in the bushes sneak (choice words) into his car and steal whatever pizzas he has remaining in the heat wave.
The fried pickles and jalapeños were both great as far as fried vegetation is concerned. The batter was light and peppery and didn't make the food taste greasy at all. The saltiness and garlic flavor went great with the spice from the jalapeños. The spiciness was definitely there but hot enough too hot to scare people who dislike spice.
Then the brisket, pork, and ribs came with a side of potato salad and fried okra. The potato salad lacked any substantial flavor (no dill, onion, mustard, etc.) and the fried okra was really good despite that I had already reached my fried food quota for a day. The brisket was very disappointing. It was dry, lacked any moisture whatsoever, and tasted like it was exposed to too much hickory flavor. It was 3:30pm on a Sunday so perhaps I got the meat they cooked for the 12pm - 2pm crowd. Fox Bros. does however cook great ribs. The meat was cooked perfectly and the outside of each rib had a great sugary coat. If I ever recommend this restaurant, I'll definitely give a disclaimer to only order the ribs.
If there was a rib competition within the city limits, I would have a difficult time deciding between Fox Bros. and Maddy's. Maddy's serves enormous juicy ribs with an above average sauce while Fox Bros. serves ribs that have a great crust and flavor. It would seriously too difficult to crown a winner without having both ribs in front of me for a side-by-side comparison.