Can You Smell the Rub Tonight? A review of Bone Lick BBQ

Our monthly meeting was held at Bone Lick BBQ in midtown. 10 brothers and pledges gathered to try the wares described in unique fashion on Bone Lick’s menu. None of us had been here before, so it was fun for everyone to order blindly.


Ol' Smoke's Opinion

Ol’ Smoke’s Opinion

The Brothers were able to try out Bone Lick BBQ last week, and I believe it was the first visit for all of us, so we were not sure what to expect. I think that we were all pleasantly surprised. The place had a nice atmosphere, including some old-school video games like

Galaga (not the new combo version with Ms. PacMan) and a table-top Centipede. Service was very friendly, especially considering we had ten people and requested separate checks. I must say that I have NEVER heard so much Elton John played at a BBQ joint before. Bennie and The Jets is a five minute song that could be reduced to a thirty-second song.

Games and BBQ? Don't miss the cigarette machine at the very end.

Games and BBQ? Don’t miss the cigarette machine at the very end.

We all shared some appetizers. Smoke ‘Em if Ya Got ‘Em (smoked wings), Pork Rinds, Big Ol’ Totties (basically a nacho supreme with tater tots), and Big ‘Ol Balls (risotta balls with meats and cheese). They were pretty good, but I found the wings and tots to be the best. By the way, if you’re not too hungry you can order the Lance Armstrong which is just one of the Big ‘Ol Balls.


Just look at these wings!!!!

Just look at these wings!!!!

I was afraid that Bone Lick spent so much time coming up with their décor and humorous menu that they may have ignored their food. I’m pleased to say that I was proved wrong. I had pulled-pork, sausage, and a side of mac ‘n’ cheese. The pork was good with a decent flavor. The sausage was pretty dry, but it had good flavor, and it may have just not been their day. The mac ‘n’ cheese was the creamy type with white cheese and jalapenos, and it was excellent. I usually like mine to be baked with a nice lid of baked cheese, but this stuff may have brought me over to the creamy side. I also tried some of Brother Cracklin’s brisket, and it was some of the best I’ve had locally, tender with a flavorful bark. All-in-all Bone Lick was a nice surprise, and I think we all left full and satisfied. Four Cleavers.

4 Cleavers

Pledge Squishy's Sentiments

Pledge Squishy’s Sentiments

This Bone Lick BBQ joint had a lot of hype to live up to. The menu showed many naughty-sounding food items. Even the name of the place delivers an interesting swagger. Do food and sex really work well together? The cozy restaurant had enough dinginess to prompt a sense of optimism. I ordered up fresh rinds and smoked wings as my shareable starters. They came out quickly and both were excellent (fresh, warm, crunchy rinds seasoned perfectly and wings had a memorable sweet smokiness). A cold Miller Highlife helped with credibility and earned at least a half cleaver.

Cold beer - especially a cold Miller High Life!!

Cold beer – especially a cold Miller High Life!!

My entrée consisted of four spareribs, sliced brisket and corn on the cob (that I received as a mistake). The ribs had a delicious rub, but were overcooked, as in very little soft fat was intact. The flavor was satisfying, if not a bit ham-like. On the other hand, the brisket came out looking a bit raw. The soft, cold, wet grey slices turned me off. It was sliced bacon-thin, which is a good idea but without a preheated plate, got cold in no time. I don’t remember the flavor that well since temperature-wise and visually it was unappealing. The smoked corn on the cob with herb mayo was the clear winner on my plate. YUM. I feel sorry for whoever ordered the corn it because that means they got the cornbread I ordered. I tried some cornbread from newboy Daddy-O’s plate and it sucked. Bland like plain oatmeal.

Elton John’s Greatest Hits rung out from the rafters, which can be great sometimes. But the sappy, overplayed songs reminded me of wasted years/lost love and wasted beef brisket/lost time I spent chewing on that cornbread.

Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me, and let the sun come up to warm that plate for the thin brisket and provide inspiration on a new, sexy cornbread recipe. 3.5 Cleavers

3.5 Cleavers

Brother Pork Fat

Pledge Pork Fat’s Pontifications

Some of the best brisket I’ve had in a while, excluding the one my next door neighbor smoked for super bowl Sunday- see attached. Bone Lick’s brisket had a similar flavor to the current standard bearer, Fox Brothers. My only issue is that the slices could have been thicker.

The brisket wasn't quite as good as my neighbor's, but they were damn good!

The brisket wasn’t quite as good as my neighbor’s, but they were damn good!

My other highlight was the tater tot/Brunswick stew/ melted cheese appetizer. Similar to the Tominator at Fox Bros but with fresh jalapeños. Pretty good combination there.
Any place that can execute a solid brisket gets a high score in my book, regardless of how pedestrian the remainder of the menu was. I give them 4 cleavers, 3.5 for the food and 0.5 for the level of sexual innuendo in their menu. I’ll assume the number of Elton John songs they played was an anomaly so no point deduction for that.

3.5 Cleavers

Brother Cracklin'

Brother Cracklin’s thoughts

Atlanta is the wild west when it comes to expectations in dining. I just ate a reservations only place located across the street from the water treatment facility (sewage plant) on the west side. Bone Lick is that kind of place. Located in a fairly new building down a craggy street of warehouses and almost to a place where you wonder if you’re about to be on the evening news.

I ordered the “Missionary” which is your choice of 2 meats and a side. I chose ribs and brisket with a side of jalapeño mac and cheese. More than I would normally do at lunch but I just had a pay day and was ready to live high on the hog going into the weekend.

Bone Lick ribs did not disappoint

Bone Lick ribs did not disappoint

Being a bit skeptical that Bone Lick was pretty well empty at 11:50, my expectations were low. Pleasantly surprised I was (in my Yoda voice). The ribs were perfect with the meat coming off in hunks with just a slight tug. I hate wrestling a rib or the other extreme of picking it up and meat falling off. Bone Lick has 5 sauces to choose from and although the ribs were delicious without, the K City sauce was my favorite pairing.

5 sauces to choose from - we tried 'em all!

5 sauces to choose from – we tried ’em all!

The brisket was in fairly thin slices and thinner than I like to see and not feel cheated but the first bite was cause for forgiveness. Of the 4 slices, one was a tad on the dry side but with a little K City sauce the world was alright again.

Brother Nomad lent me a jerk rib which I swiftly returned to his possession after the first attempted bite. More like jerky rather than jerk. No thanks.

Jalapeño mac and cheese was the ideal complement to this meal. It was the creamy sort of cheese with no chunks or browned topping. Just creamy light cheesy goodness throughout and hot. Both temperature and spice.

Jalapeno mac and cheese? We ain't kiddin' when we say it was fantastic!

Jalapeno mac and cheese? We ain’t kiddin’ when we say it was fantastic!

It’s always nice to be wrong when you prejudge a BBQ joint and they end up slapping you with reality. Bone Lick brought their “A” game and by the time lunch was over the tiny establishment was pretty well hopping.

I would have given them 4.5 cleavers but playing Elton John’s greatest hits the entire lunch deserves punishment. Next time how bout some Turnpike Troubadours, Jason Isbell or Lucero. Elton John… for crying out loud! Bone Lick has a stage for live bands, you’d think they’d have better taste than that. Rating: 4.0 Cleavers

4 Cleavers

Brother Taters' Take

Brother Taters’ Take

Bone Lick in west midtown seems to be the kind of place you might want to visit if you ever find yourself in a BBQ rut, if there is such a thing. The menu seemed pretty creative with the choices of appetizers, sides, and choices – a matrix of sandwiches varying from many choices of meat served many different ways from sliders to buns to Texas toast and even tacos. You’ll find a lot of interesting options if you can get past the Guy Fieri style attitude and the junior high humor that’s present throughout the menu. Yes, plenty of BBQ joint make light of Butts and rubs, buts it’s tough to find items that don’t have ass or balls in the name. Settle down, Beavis.

Anyway, the apps were pretty good. The big ‘ol totties gave you a sample of their many flavors with the homemade sausage being the best ( if not a touch overcooked) the Big ‘ol Balls ( huh huh huh, he said balls) combined cheese, four kinds of meat, and risotto rolled up and deep fried. I can’t imagine a way to screw that up. And the smoked wings had a nice subtle smoky flavor, requiring just a slight coating of BBQ sauce.

Big Ol' totties - a lot of flavor packed into this awesome combination.

Big Ol’ totties – a lot of flavor packed into this awesome combination.

On to the meats. I thought sliders would be a good way to sample different tastes without filling up on just one. The Korean bbq had a deep toasted flavor that somehow worked best with the Carolina mustard sauce on it. The pulled pork was good, but hard to evaluate because a small portion was covered in slaw and a pickle. For a slider, I’d let the meat stand on its own. The ribs were decent without sauce, but the rub was primarily seasoning and salt. I needed to add some of their KC style sauce to bring some sweetness. It was good, but if you’re looking for a rib that can stand alone without sauce, this may not be the choice.

Sliders - not a bad way to sample some of the meats at Bone Lick.

Sliders – not a bad way to sample some of the meats at Bone Lick.

I also heard great things about the brisket which was served thinly sliced with a border of fat for flavoring. Probably closer to bacon than traditional Texas style brisket. Overall, I’d give it 3.5. Great job on the creativity, decent job on the basics.

3.5 Cleavers

Brother Fixin's

Brother Fixin’s’ Review

Well I thought the brisket was awesome! And a quick update on my quest for the Holy Rib. Not bad at Bone Lick. Not bad at all! But the mac & cheese blew me away too. The touch of jalapeno in there was perfect! What a great twist – what a great idea.

My favorite, however, might have been the rinds. Brother Squishy orders those suckers every time they are on the menu, and I’m glad he does. They were good at Pig-N-Chik, but they were ridonculous here! I’ll order them again for sure!

These little freaks were warm, light, and seasoned perfectly!

These little freaks were warm, light, and seasoned perfectly!

All in all a 3.5 out of 5 cleavers.

3.5 Cleavers

Pledge Daddy-O's Description

Pledge Daddy-O’s Description

Bone Lick has a “local bar” feel and serves up top notch barbecue. Don’t be distracted by the “cute” menu items, just order the barbecue, you won’t regret it.

Hard not to enjoy the 'cue with this crew

Hard not to enjoy the ‘cue with this crew

Brother Nomad

What you got, Brother Nomad?

Bone Lick was a refreshing change of atmosphere from your run of the mill BBQ restaurant. The menu was humorous and Elton John was on repeat (not sure if that is a good thing).
I thought the smoked wings were tasty and moist. The “ Mike’s Big ‘Ol Balls”( a fried risotto ball stuffed with bacon, pork, brisket, sausage and cheddar) sounded good, but missed the mark for me.

yep - they are big balls alright!

yep – they are big balls alright!

I had the Jerk beef ribs, sausage and corn for my main course. The ribs had good flavor and were spicy, but there was very little meat on the bone. I traded two of the jerk ribs to my colleagues for a standard pork rib. The other brothers were vocally unimpressed with the jerk rib to say the least, but I enjoyed their pork rib (especially with the Carolina sauce). The sausage left something to be desired. It was dry and a bit mealy, but was a great “carrier” for the mustard sauce! I was a big fan of the mustard sauce! The corn was okay I guess, but too much aioli for my liking.

All in all, I give Bone Lick 3 out of 5 cleavers. Not the greatest food, but my choice of order may be partly to blame.

3.5 Cleavers