(p) 770.499.PIGG (7444)
The Big Shanty Smokehouse is the quintessential side-of-the-road barbecue joint. I would have loved to have found this restaurant by circumstance -- driving down Cherokee Street in the Early Fall with my windows down until I was lured in by the unmistakable aroma of hickory smoke. And just in case I was wasn't able to specifically track the smoke's source, a big black smoker with white fire effects painted over it would have confirmed I'd found the goods. Big Shanty Smokehouse is building quite the reputation/following in the Atlanta community, specifically through Urbanspoon readers. Chic and Sissy Dillard, along with the help of their daughter, have owned and ran the joint for two years. Chic had previously consulted other restaurants in the area prior to recently venturing out on his own. He takes his barbecue seriously, and that was good to me as his customer, because that meant he was open for business on Valentines Day.
They were both very friendly and sincere (I liked how they had matching red Valentines Day chef coats as well, because to be honest, I'd love to be married to a woman who would love to cook barbecue with me on Valentines Day) The menu was fairly traditional so I decided to try the Steve's Sampler -- homemade sausage (which is a rarity for most barbecue joints coast to coast), brisket (quality brisket is almost impossible to find in Georgia), pulled pork, and spare ribs. Chic suggested that I order the day's special -- smoked beef tenderloin -- but I decided that since I was all the way out in Kennessaw, I was going to get his usual servings.
I almost peed my pants when I first saw the brisket that I had been served. For the first time since I started eating barbecue in the state of Georgia, I was about to try a couple slices of brisket that looked like authentic Texas meat. The brisket looked so amazing that I'm sure it could hold water against the best of Texas brisket. The dark crust looked incredible, and the fat that ran throughout the moist cut of meat looked perfectly rendered. My first bite affirmed that this place was the real deal. I piled some pulled pork, half a slice of brisket, and the meat from the rib high on a slice of bread and took it right to the face. It was a girl's dream.
A light sauce had been applied to the pork prior to it being served, something I sort of look down upon during my visits to barbecue joints. I look forward to trying each meat dry to really sample the meat in its natural state. Then if I determine that the restaurants sauce complements the food, I'm freely able to add as much sauce as I want. The pork was still enjoyable, and I especially enjoyed eating it piled upon rib and brisket meat on a slice of bread. In hindsight, I should have ordered the chopped pork instead of pulled. Chic claims that the chopped is chunkier and has a lot of outside bark mixed in with pork.
Chic and Missy make the sausage out of brisket and rib meat, and they do a damn impressive job at it too. While the sausage had a great flavor, it didn't taste anything like the authentic sausages I had eaten while travelling along the Hill Country in Texas. My only criticism for the sausage was that the casing wasn't firm enough to snap in each of my bites.
Big Shanty Smokehouse set the bar really high in the Atlanta and Georgia barbecue circuit, and I'll be quite impressed if they ever get beat out by another local joint. As I went to thank Chic and Missy for the memorable experience (treating myself to a great barbecue meal on Valentines Day), he offered a sample of his smoked beef tenderloin. Not to my surprise, it packed a ton of flavor and was better than I had previously imagined when I walked into his restaurant 15 minutes earlier.