The Brothers enjoy Fruits of the ‘Loom – a review of Heirloom BBQ in Atlanta
When you look on any “Best BBQ in Atlanta” list, Heirloom BBQ on Akers Mill is always near the top. It’s unique dining experience, it’s location, and it’s Korean twist seems to differentiate it from other joints in the city. Lots of locals swear by it, and it would be hard to find a BBQ aficionado who has not fought the limited parking to try some of Heirloom’s flavorful selections. We simply could not call ourselves BBQ lovers if after a year of BBQ searching we did not visit this Atlanta favorite and provide our opinions.
Heirloom has many of the visual queues I respond to when scoping out a BBQ joint for the first time. Although this was not my first visit, it still was a recommendation to me just a couple of years ago. Parking is a total nightmare in this place so don’t arrive “hangry”. It could quickly escalate into mayhem before you even get in the door. Heirloom BBQ Market is literally a hole in the wall type place and you have to recall the Seinfeld episode of “soup nazi” if you want to get your food quickly and without annoying other patrons. Stand in line, be ready when it’s your turn, wait on your food, exit to the stand up dining corral outside.
I had never had the brisket at Heirloom but it came with high recommendations from others. It’s one of the pricier options but worth it on a pay day Friday. Excellent balance of Korean spices on the shell and smoke in the middle. Moist and limp when held vertically as a test for dryness. Test passed easily.
My sides were “Brunswick” stew. I put that in quotes for good reason. It’s definitely unlike any Brunswick stew you’ll find elsewhere. It’s more of a soup in my opinion and maybe a little heavy handed on the spices (heat). It sort of overpowers all else on your plate.
I paired the stew with mac and cheese. Nothing too extraordinary, just good and cheesy. On the creamy side. I will continue to dine at Heirloom BBQ Market as long as they don’t make changes to the entrees. The rest, I’m indifferent about. Best advice, familiarize yourself with the menu online, arrive early (or late) and don’t expect fine dining conversation. You’ll most likely be facing a wall. Cleaver Rating: 4
The Heirloom review was high on the anticipation list. I’d heard great things about this Asian BBQ joint by the river. I also heard some not so great things. So I grabbed newboy David from the office and blasted northward.
It was a beautiful Friday and we arrived early and lucky enough to find a parking place. It was illegal, mind you, but it was still a space. It must written in the BBQ Restaurant Manual for creating hype for your BBQ, you MUST make parking impossible – see my Fox Brother’s review. Except in this case there are no neighborhood side streets to park. Lots of people jump the curb and park in the grassy lot. It’s pretty bad.
At least the line out the door wasn’t very long. Heirloom is like a BBQ counter instead of a restaurant. You line up, order/pay, and then wait around awkwardly amidst the sweet tea urns until they call your number. You then take your styrofoam box to-go or you can try to dine in on site. If you are fortunate there might be standing room in what I would call a breezeway with shallow counters built into the block walls. You can even take your order out onto the lawn if you don’t mind the chance of being backed into or run over by a curb jumping truck.
I have not said one thing about the food! I broke my tradition by ordering the lunch special – 1/2 Chicken with Alabama white sauce. I was still abuzz from my excellent experience at Big Bob Gibson’s ordering this very thing. It came out quickly and then Taters, newboy and I found room at the block wall. Four bites into what was excellently prepared chicken, one of the staff yelled out, “Does anyone here drive a black Audi?” Taters answered and was told his car was hit out front. Here’s the important part: he took three more bites of his meal before going out to see his car! That is BBQ dedication my faithful reader!
I loved my BBQ chicken. It had crispy, seasoned skin, savory white and dark meat and was served with a wonderful Korean-spiced white sauce. My side was a generous portion of brisket stew which was chunky and flavorful. A hamburger bun (?), sliced dill pickles and a fancy imported bottle of Coke rounded out my lunch.
So, it was really great BBQ, but was it a great overall experience? Not by a long shot. I don’t enjoy to-go food. Never have. Something changes when cooked meats are kept in styrofoam for more than five minutes. And the stress from that parking lot. And the crowded block wall patio. I doubt I will darken their doorstep anytime soon. Three cleavers.
Pledge Huntin’ Dog is new to the group – here are his thoughts!!!!
As the man with no group name yet, it’s hard to know the direction to go when there’s a name like “Squishy”. I sit here looking forward to a Thanksgiving week of feasting but remembering the fine meats, greens and beans of Heirloom BBQ (“The Loom”). I have enjoyed the foods from The Loom for the past 5 years or so and even dealt with the mad parking lot a few times, but never had the pleasure of standing along the wall to “dine in” before. I like the outdoor hole in the wall atmosphere and I actually enjoy standing to eat, but I would prefer to flip the trough around so I can people watch instead of staring at the wall.
For the food, the portion of pulled pork was generous enough to bring home for leftovers and had great flavor and moistness (maybe my name should be “the moistness”?). I was very pleased with the side of greens and the brisket beans/stew/chili topped like a baked potato was surprisingly delicious. I didn’t have the macaroni and cheese this time but rank it up there with Hal’s. If I could figure out a way to eat The Loom without the parking situation I would definitely “darken their doorstep” more often. I rule 4 cleavers.