Big Shanty BBQ first hit my radar in the 2011 Atlanta magazine barbecue issue, when they used the magic words “banana pudding”. The article listed barbecue restaurants by county, along with their specialties. In the entry for Big Shanty, it highlighted their ribs and pulled pork – and said that their banana pudding was really something special.
Then they made the top 10 in this year’s Atlanta magazine barbecue issue and I remembered that I needed “to go to there”. Today, when I had a meeting in Kennesaw mid-afternoon, I found this to be a great opportunity to swing by (at the height of lunch hour) and see what all the fuss was about.
Arriving about 12:30 the parking lot was packed. I looked around and found a place in the lot next door and walked in the front door, finding myself standing in line, directly in front of the counter. They serve plates (like a pork sandwich with one side), platters (meat plates with two sides) or a build-your-own combo, along with carry out by the pound or slab. There is plenty of seating in the right half of the house (from the picture at the top) and a large enclosed patio off to the left.
The view to the left is from the counter where I originally took a seat, looking back into the kitchen. The cash register is to the left of the frame and the smokehouse is out the door, just off frame right. Looking to get a true sample, I chose the three meat platter (sliced brisket, pulled pork and ribs) with a side of mac & cheese. And I ordered some banana pudding. About ten minutes later, I saw a platter being prepared in front of me and I realized the countertop at which I was sitting just wasn’t going to hold the plate. I moved to the table next to where I was previously seated and awaited the arrival.
I started with the pulled pork. There was a good bit of it and I found it to be very smoky and quite flavorful. I added a little sauce which was both sweet and a little spicy. Nice start.
Then it was on to the sliced brisket (they asked if I wanted it sliced or chopped). It was sliced about a quarter of an inch thick and I had two good sized slices that were fork tender.
Check out that smoke ring! There was a perfect strip of the top of the brisket with the charred crust on one side and fatty brisket on the other, that when dipped in the sauce and then put onto the bread made an excellent sandwich. The ribs were different than any I recall:
I don’t know if they put the ribs in the boiler or on the stovetop after they smoked them, but it was like the sugar in the sauce caramelized and made for a crunchy sweet crust before biting into the rib meat. The meat pulled perfectly off the bone. It was a very good rib – different but very good.
What was missing from the platter picture above?
That’s right – banana pudding. When my plate came to the table, they left the number and I assumed that they left it there to remember my pudding. But then they picked up the number and I made sure that the pudding was coming. They asked if I wanted then, but I deferred and about three quarters of the way through the meal, the banana pudding showed up. It was very good – with a creamy custard and a vanilla wafer crust. Not as good as Ima L’s, but good enough.
This is a very good all around barbecue joint with a good bit of seating. And it was exceptionally clean – a rarity in barbecue joints in which I eat – which would have made my wife very happy. I wouldn’t hesitate to return.