I was invited by my neighbor to go to a Braves game with him this past weekend and he suggested we have a late barbeque lunch at Fox Brothers. The Brotherhood reviewed this respected establishment last fall and gave excellent reviews, but it was before I pledged the fraternity. So now it is Brother Squishy’s turn.
I was slightly concerned about going to this place on a Saturday afternoon, but my friend assured me that it would be fine. Besides, some other friends were going early to get put on the inevitable waiting list. How jammed can it be at 2:00PM on a Memorial Day holiday weekend, right? The answer – very. Over an hour of waiting in the hot sun and we were sitting down inside.
Our friendly server took care of us by quickly delivering pints of beer (+). But nowhere could I find fresh pork rinds on the menu (-). I got my standard order: brisket, ribs, stew and collards. I also sampled my friend’s smoked wings and mac-n-cheese.
Brisket must be a difficult meat to prepare well. At a place with such a good reputation like Fox Brothers, one would think it would be perfect. Even though the thick slice of smoked beef was tender, it was fatty as hell, gray and cold. YUK! (-) The slightly overcooked ribs however, had an excellent flavor using the Fox Brothers-branded sauces on the table. Their sauces were sweet, hot, and white (I was told they could be found in the local grocery stores). The best way to enjoy the ribs was using a combination of the sweet and hot sauces. Unfortunately, the smoked wings were pretty weak. They were overcooked and bland.
Fox Brothers are serious with their side dishes. The Brunswick stew was crafted well with chunky, identifiable bits (that’s a lima bean, that’s some corn) and the collards had a good balance of sweet, heat and savory. But I must say that Fox Brothers makes the best mac-n-cheese in town. The garlicky-cheese and buttery shell pasta was the best I’ve tried anywhere.
This place is great, but it is running too hard to keep frustrated-by-waiting customers 100% happy. Things like overcooked ribs and cold, ugly brisket happen when you’re feeding many hundreds of people a day at a place that has, maybe a dozen parking places out front. My take on the crowded reality of Fox Brothers is what all of us brothers have been saying all along: if you add locations, your quality drops. The quality is high, but the demand is ridiculous. I can’t imagine the stress of keeping a packed dining room for hours a day. But this place is about as great as it gets. As long as I can have a pint or two of beer, I will happily overlook the wait.