Pig-N-Chik

P-N-C Comes Up Short (Rib)

For our 3rd Brotherhood review, we loaded up the chuck wagons and mozied down to one of Pig-N-Chik‘s 3 Atlanta locations. We’ve had this discussion a lot, but when a restaurant has more than one location, can they really keep up the quality at all of the locations?  Let’s find out as we delve into our experience at the Roswell Road location. Brothers Cracklin’ and Fixin’s, and Pledges Nomad, Pork Fat, Squishy, Ol’ Smoke, and Gaggy in attendance.

Brother Cracklin'

Brother Cracklin’s thoughts

We live in a homogenized world where all good things like craftsmanship and quality have been compromised for the sake of serving more people faster.  BBQ is no exception, where to me, the further you get from civilization and fast paced living the better the BBQ gets. Pig-N-Chik does not escape this rule.

Pig-N-Chik exists “ITP” (inside the perimeter).  That phrase won’t mean much to you unless you’re an Atlantan.  Atlanta isn’t the sleepy slow southern town that yankees may still imagine it to be.  There’s 5+ million people here and they all eat lunch.  So, when you go to lunch “ITP” expect it to be fast, focused on convenience and usually just a sustaining meal.  All requirements that are contradictory to great BBQ.

Now, I don’t want to be too harsh on Pig-N-Chik.  I understand that they exist to make money and have to serve as many as possible in the high rent area where they are located.  My meal was served quickly, it was hot and a fair amount of food for the price.

Being this the first time I had dined with Pig-N-Chik, I went with the standard fare of pulled pork, baked beans and Brunswick stew.  This is always my benchmark as I believe it to be the basic meal that will determine if I shall return or not.

The pulled pork was moist, had some good char included in the portion and was a fair amount of meat for the price paid.  It was BBQ pork for sure but it just didn’t have that stand alone flavor I need to call it great BBQ without some enhancement via sauce. Again, good but nowhere near exceptional.  Sauce IS required and I tried all Pig-N-Chik had to offer.

Pig-N-Chik has 4 sauces that I’m aware of.  Traditional sweet, vinegar based, mayonnaise based and mustard based.  Like the meat, 3 of the 4 sauces were average.  I eventually settled on the vinegar based sauce to complete my meal.  It’s tangy and spicy which really brought my pulled pork up to a level that made it worth eating the entire serving. Probably my least favorite sauce was the “Alabama White Sauce”.  That was nothing more than diluted thousand island dressing.

Pig-N-Chick

Not quite the 4 horsemen – the 4 so-so sauces

The best part of my meal was the Brunswick stew.  It met all my requirements of being a good stew.  Chunky, identifiable ingredients and hot (temperature).  The unexpected and unusual quality was the spice.  Pretty sure it was simply a freshly ground pepper but possibly just a lot of pepper from a can.  Short of it is that it was really peppery.  I would order it again though.

Baked beans were nothing more than heated beans from a can.  I won’t waste your time or my keystrokes telling you more.

I did get 2, yes 2 pieces of Texas bread.  Not Texas toast as it was not toasted.  Bread.  A nice side since I had to use a lot of sauce on the meat and a white bread mop came in handy.

One of the other brothers ordered some pork rinds.  For you yankees, that’s deep fried pork skin.  This was a nice surprise and the most memorable part of the meal.  The rinds were seasoned and hot out of the fryer.  It doesn’t get any more southern than that.  So, I’d give Pig-N-Chik an additional 1/2 point just for the rinds.

Pig-N-Chick

The best thing we ordered – hot, crispy pork rinds!

Pig-N-Chik is a fun atmosphere with check table cloths, years of memorabilia on the walls and a wide beer selection of domestic and craft beers.  It’s clear that people ITP love it as evidenced by the line to order and if I were hankering for some BBQ after a meeting I might just hit it again.  If you’re not a BBQ snob, you’re going to like Pig-N-Chik.  As for myself and the brotherhood, I think we’ll give it some time before we return.

Brother Fixin's

Brother Fixin’s’ take

Well let me start by saying that as usual, I had to try the ribs as I continue my quest for the best ribs in town. On recommendation from the lady at the counter I ordered green beans as my side, then went on my own with fried okra for my other side. I love beer with my BBQ, and as luck would have it they had PBR on tap. BBQ and PBR – sounds about right to me!

I think the best way to put it is the ribs didn’t look right. I couldn’t tell if they were smoked, baked, or cooked in a crock pot. No char, they just kind of looked like Elementary School cafeteria pork chops. Although I was hesitant to bite into them, I’m glad I did because they actually tasted pretty good and were cooked the way I like them. They did need sauce, which was disappointing, but after I slathered some of the hotter peppery sauce on them I got to work.

Pig-N-Chick

The ribs didn’t “look” right, but they tasted very good to Brother Fixin’s

I swiped some of the chicken from Pledge Squishy’s plate while he was distracted by the awesome pork rinds he ordered, and I was pleasantly surprised – cooked very nicely, still juicy and tender, and threw a decently smoky punch.

I love okra, and although there wasn’t anything special about these, they were good and crispy with just enough salt, so I was satisfied. The green beans were actually delicious – probably the best thing on my plate. But this place isn’t called Okra-N-Beans. It’s called Pig-N-Chik. Chik very good, the Pig I could give or take.

Brother Nomad

What you got, Pledge Nomad?

I had the pulled pork and smoked wings with a side of Fried okra and mac and cheese. I also indulged in a delicious cold Budweiser!

I started with the smoked wings. They were delicious. Not over smoked and went well with the sweet sauce they had at the table. I then moved onto the pulled pork. This was moist and they gave me plenty of bark, which I am a huge fan of. This is when the peak of my lunch took place! I tried the spicy vinegar sauce. This stuff was awesome! I could put this on a shoe and eat it, but it was nice to have pulled pork to toss it on! I probably consumed a quarter bottle of the spicy sauce alone.

Pig-N-Chick

Pork was good, Okra was okra, Bud was delicious!

I wasn’t very impressed with the mac and cheese. It was a neon orange color, the pasta was a bit overcooked and the cheese sauce was not the best. Needless to say, I still ate all of it, so can’t complain too much. Next was okra. I am a sucker for fried okra. I probably order it every time it is on a menu. It was good (especially when I accidentally spilled the spicy BBQ sauce on it), but tasted a little like the okra you buy at the grocery store in the fried section.

Lastly, Budweiser – The perfect complement to BBQ – Enough said!

Brother Pork Fat

Pledge Pork Fat’s Pontifications

My order consisted of the rib plate with 2 sides (cole slaw and potato salad).  The lady that took my order seemed uninspired by the potato salad when I asked her opinion and I obviously should have listened to her as whoever made it had possibly less inspiration that day.  The cole slaw was probably the highlight of my order unfortunately as the ribs, which had a decent flavor, were completely falling off of the bone and I tend to prefer a certain amount of chew to my ribs.

Overall the experience was disappointing, although I probably would have been pleased with the pulled pork as everyone that ordered it seemed happy.  Pig-N-Chik has 3 locations currently so perhaps one of the other locations is serving decent cue.  I’ve lately found that it is difficult for bbq places with multiple locations to maintain a high level of quality at each store and this was no exception.  It will likely be some time before I venture back to this restaurant.

Brother Squishy

Pledge Squishy’s Sentiments

This delightful suburban strip mall dive was pretty close to what I expected. Situated at the end of a row of stucco-clad shops in an over-built stretch of ITP suburbia, graced with ample parking and detached meat smoker out back was Pig-N-Chik. The proprietors attempted to adorn the walls with old, campy nostalgic images and soda cans. There were college banners, TVs (playing SportsCenter), and blue/white checkerboard tablecloths.

Pig-N-Chick

Delightful Decor

One thing that was missing from the room was a bit dinginess that would have motivated a few of us to try the brisket. Everyone passed. I love pork rinds and was delighted with the batch of fresh, hot, crunchy, curly pork styrofoam that came quickly to the table. Yum! I ordered up the pulled chicken plate, Brunswick stew, and fried okra. Let’s face it, chicken meat can be ugly, and this was no exception. But it was tender and smoky. Another win for PNC.

The Brunswick stew tasted fine, if not anything to write home about. But the okra was lame-o. Clearly a Sysco-from-the-bag variety that would also find itself in the most mediocre school cafeterias. I shared some of my chicken with Fixins’ ribs which were okay. A little soft with a subtle flavor that was easy to ignore. The sauces on the table were not very good either. So I give this BBQ experience a 6 out of 10. Plusses were the smoky pulled chicken and the pork rinds. Minuses were the weak ambiance and the garbage fried okra.

Oh yeah, they had a MESS of Moon Pies at the register! Bonus!

Pig-N-Chik

Mess of moon pies alongside a stern warning of what can happen if you enjoy too much BBQ

Pledge Ol’ Smoke’s Review

I had the pulled pork and a rib (just to try one), and my sides were mac ‘n’ cheese and Brunswick stew.

Pulled Pork – Pulled pork should not require barbeque sauce. This does not mean that sauce can’t improve the taste, only that it is not required. I always take my first couple of bites with no sauce to determine how much sauce to add to the pork. Unfortunately, Pig-N-Chik‘s pulled pork required sauce. The pork had little flavor and was a little dry.

Rib (How much for one rib????) – The rib that I had was not too bad. I prefer my ribs to offer a little resistance when I try to separate the meat from the bone, and the meat easily fell away from the rib at Pig-N-Chik. It makes me wonder if maybe they cooked them in the oven or boiled them before putting them over a fire. Having said that, the rib wasn’t bad, but I doubt that I would order a slab of them.

Mac ‘N’ Cheese – This was the worst item I had. It was a shade of orange that I do not believes exists in nature. It did not taste as bad as it looked, but it looked really bad.

Brunswick Stew – I liked the Brunswick stew. It was peppery, but I usually add a little hot sauce to my stew, so that was fine with me.

Overall – If it was located a few miles from work, I would probably eat there for the occasional lunch. However, it is not worth going out of the way for, and overall, it was disappointing.

Final Thoughts

In summary, we rated Pig-N-Chik‘s Roswell Road location 2.5 out of 5 meat cleavers. Too much left to be desired – and too many choices out there to feel like we have to settle. We will see you Friday, January 8 at Community BBQ in Decatur where Pork Fat and Nomad will officially be initiated as Brothers!

2.5 Cleavers