Cook it again, Sam – a review of Sam’s BBQ in East Cobb

For the first time since February, the brotherhood was able to pull together a meeting with more than 2 people. Brothers Cracklin’, Nomad, Pork Fat, and Fixin’s traversed to East Cobb to try some BBQ from a restaurant started by Atlanta BBQ icon Sam Huff. The rough equivalent of the biblical “Abraham” who great-grandfathered the 12 tribes of Israel, Sam has great-grandfathered many great BBQ joints in and around Atlanta. One of two bearing his name, Sam’s BBQ1 in East Cobb beckoned the brotherhood for some bbq bliss. Unfortunately on this particular day we may have stumbled upon bbq miss.

Brother Cracklin'

Brother Cracklin’s thoughts

You can fairly accuse me of being a germaphobe on some things like dining out.  Typically, I try and spy the health rating and if it’s below 85 you might be certain that I’m going to duck out.  If it were not for the fact that this was a scheduled lunch with the Brothers In Slaw I would have bolted when I saw the 83 rating seemingly posted proudly at the front door.

Now, this location is East Cobb and I live in West Cobb where the 2nd location is.  So this was my first trip to the East Cobb location but I had no doubts it would be solid.  Unfortunately, my logic failed and so did this meal.

One thing about good BBQ is the secret ingredient nobody really ever lists in their recipes.  That ingredient is “heart” and/or “soul”.  BBQ is all about pouring a little bit of yourself into the meal.  Clearly, on this day, at this location, Sam’s had lost “heart”.

mac 'n cheese and brisket. Where's the fatty?

mac ‘n cheese and brisket. Where’s the fatty?

I had the lunch menu brisket, side of stew and side of mac n’ cheese.  The brisket had a good smoke flavor all around but was shy on fat although I had requested the fatty end when I ordered.  It wasn’t necessarily dry but it wasn’t the buttery, melt in your mouth experience that I was expecting.  Probably the first time I’ve never eaten the entire serving of brisket.

The stew, although good, was either the bottom or the top of the barrel.  Heavy on the liquid and light on ingredients.  I don’t typically crumble saltines in my stew but this time it was necessary to give it some substance.

Mac N Cheese was probably the best part of the lunch so I would consider that the half point to keep Sam on the upside of a negative review.  It was really creamy with big noodles and not really any grease to speak of floating on the top.

West Cobb Sam’s BBQ is really fantastic and I’ve never had a bad meal there.  East Cobb is going unattended or completely forgotten.  For the fact that I’m a fan of the West Cobb location I will be generous in my rating for Sam’s BBQ as a whole. 3.5 Cleavers

3.5 Cleavers

-Cracklin’

Brother Pork Fat

Pledge Pork Fat’s Pontifications

Chicken and sauseeeeeejjjjj!

Chicken and sauseeeeeejjjjj!

I’ve probably been to Sam’s more than 20 times over the years and have tried everything they offer at least once. I went with the 2 meat combination plate (dark meat chicken and sausage) which you could say was a little on the safe side, but I wasn’t in the mood for a letdown – and the last time I had Sam’s brisket that’s exactly how I felt. Both meats were quite good, no complaints and the chicken didn’t require any sauce.

I had the redneck lasagna as one of my sides, and I honestly can’t remember what the other was so it must not have been all that good. The redneck lasagna had decent flavor but I would have preferred if it had been thicker. I suppose it was supposed to be a combination of Brunswick stew and macaroni, but I doubt if I would order it again. Seeing Brother Cracklin’s description of the stew explains the thin consistency – the stew apparently wasn’t very chunky today.

My overall grade for Sam’s is 3 meat cleavers. Not sure why they don’t sell beer there any longer, but I’m deducting 1/2 cleaver for that type of policy.

3 Cleavers

Brother Fixin's

Brother Fixin’s’ Review

Like Brother Cracklin’ I have been to the West Cobb location of Sam’s BBQ1 many times, and it is my go-to local spot. I am told that Sam spends the vast majority of his time at the West Cobb location, which might explain why my experience on the East side of town was disappointing. After a couple of swings and misses the last 2 meetings, I went back to basics: pulled pork, pulled chicken, and ribs. I also ordered a side of redneck lasagna because the flavor is so undeniably good I just could not pass it up.

mac 'n cheese + Brunswick stew = redneck lasagna

mac ‘n cheese + Brunswick stew = redneck lasagna

The chicken was very tasty – just a dash of Sam’s Carolina sauce did the trick adding some zing to the yardbird (no one was really thrilled with the Kansas City sauce they whipped up today). It was nice and moist, and I was eager to hit the pork and rib. I was surprised at both – not as good as they looked. There was way too much pull on the rib – at least an hour or two more needed in the smoker. I was given a batch of the stringy pork, so my pulled pork experience wasn’t much better. Very dry left me very sad. And the watery redneck lasagna left me on the verge of devastation. HOWEVER, when Brother Nomad wasn’t looking, I grabbed a handful of his fried okra – now THOSE were great. All crispy, perfectly breaded, perfectly fried. YUM!!!

I was so proud to go back to the basics after failed Asian ribs last month, but my genius idea was foiled. Actually, if the ribs had been “foiled” for another 2 hours they might have actually been good . . . 2.5 cleavers.

2.5 Cleavers

Brother Nomad

What you got, Brother Nomad?

Nomad here. I met some of my brothers at SAMs last week and wanted to put together a short review.

I had a busy day so I didn’t want to over order. I went with the brisket sandwich meal off the lunch menu. I had fried okra as my side(I’m a sucker for frokra).

NC beats KC 1 - 0

NC beats KC 1 – 0

Once the waiter delivered my food, it was obvious that Sam slices the fat off the point of his brisket. The is a bbq sin in my book. The whole idea of slow cooking brisket is to render the fat down until it turns into meat candy! The meat was a bit dry but had a good smoke ring. The Carolina BBQ sauce was good although the mild sweet tomato based sauce was disappointing.

Thank goodness for the delicious fried okra! It was fantastic! Some of the best I’ve ever had!

All in all, I give Sam’s 2.5 cleavers. A bit disappointing for such a well known pit master!

2.5 Cleavers