Monday, March 22, 2010

Garden Produce and Country Store (6/10) - 567 Stephenson Rd, Stone Mountain, GA 30087

M-Th: 11:30a-8p
F-Sa: 11:30a-9p
Su: 1p-6p
(p) 770.413.0338

Garden Produce and Country Store is a lesser known outfit tucked away in a fairly rural residential neighborhood a few miles south of Stone Mountain.  This hybrid between a barbecue joint and a country store might have gone unnoticed if I hadn't recently caught wind of its growing word-of-mouth reputation -- especially about this joint's supposedly spectacular ribs.  All my efforts to research this place -- history and hours of operation -- were fairly futile, so my intrigue only grew until I'd finally have the opportunity to experience the barbecue for myself.  Basically all I knew before I departed on Sunday was that enthusiasts of the Garden Produce and Country Store emphatically love the ribs and appreciate that the restaurant/store grows its own produce.

When I saw the interior of this restaurant, I understood why most customers called in to-go orders.  A few tables lined the front porch while one interior table is available for those who opt to eat indoors.  The place was genuinely a local neighborhood country store with the capacity and means to also serve barbecue.  In addition to the barbecue rib platter I was destined to order, I looked over the menu and decided to sample a pork sandwich.   I took a seat, put on the NCAA tournament, surveyed the jarred jams, preserves, pickled vegetables, and apple butter that lined the cabinets on the wall, and finally organized the available condiments on my table so I could sample each with the barbecue.

While waiting for my lunch, I learned that Garden Produce and Country Store smokes all its barbecue with wild cherry wood.  Harder woods (Mesquite, Oak, Hickory) have much stronger poignant flavors that when used incorrectly, oftentimes overpower the overall flavor pallet of the meat being smoked.  Fruit and nut woods on the contrary (Apple, Cherry, Orange, Pecan) are more delicate and sweet, and meats can be exposed to the smoke from those woods for much longer durations of time.  There's definitely a trade-off when making the decision to determine which wood to match with each meat -- how long to smoke vs how strong of a smoke flavor do you want to penetrate the meat.  Like the Brick Pit, another barbecue joint that smokes its ribs with soft woods (pecan with a little oak), Garden Produce and Country Store smokes its ribs an impressively long period of time -- approximately 16 hours.

The softer and sweeter notes from the smoke were evident in each bite of the rib meat.  The ribs had a nice basic seasoning on the crust -- salt and pepper the most identifiable of spices, that ultimately tasted sweet as a result of the fat being fully rendered from the long smoke.  Although the ribs were cooked well, I believe they would have been more enjoyable had there been a stronger more noticeable smoke flavor to complement the pork.

The pork sandwich left a lot to be desired.  The meat was piled high on an oversized sesame seed bun while the meat was basically swimming in a large quantity of sauce.  Due to the subtle flavor of smoke in the pork, all I could really taste in the sandwich was the sauce -- which happened to be a little too sweet for my liking.  To put into context, it reminded me of the first time I tried Thomas Sauce after I had only experimented with A1 throughout my childhood.   I was used to stronger spice and vinegar variations, and found the transition to a more sugary and sweet concoction a little confusing.

In hindsight, I really enjoyed my first mission to Garden Produce and Country Store although I didn't leave as impressed with the quality of barbecue as others.  The place definitely has a buzz growing about its product, and considering the limited (if any) advertising it employs, I think the place has to be doing something right.  The staff was extremely friendly and I appreciated that they also take great care in their product while cultivating their own produce.  Although I'd probably shy away from another pork sandwich, I could easily be convinced to make a return visit to sample the joint's sliced barbecued brisket or to order more spare ribs or rib tips.

Garden Produce & Country Store on Urbanspoon


  1. I hope you'll give it another try. I went there last spring with about 30 members of the Atlanta Barbecue Club, which includes several certified judges and a couple of guys who run specialty meat shops, and by far most of us were really pleased with the product. In fact, I can't think of another place we've gone in metro Atlanta for our monthly "meating" where people were more pleased with what we ate.


  2. I would love to be a garden produce and get my own garden

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  4. I live in the city, i wish i could eat at small mom and pop shops like this.

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Ratings and Reviews

In order to provide a consistent grading standard across each restaurant/region, I order a barbecue pork sandwich (and other meats/sides if a restaurant/region specializes in another specialty). In addition to comparing the quality of food, I will also take into consideration other intangibles (ambiance, atmosphere, service, authenticity, etc.) in my ratings as I deem appropriate.

Basically, a 10/10 represents an incredible meal, while a 6/10 score indicates a decent dining experience but a substantial number of dishes fell short of great. Lower scores indicate unpleasant experiences which I would most likely not even recommend to my worst enemy (Jonas Singer).

I reserve the right to continuously edit/update previous posts and to change rating scores as I see fit.