The huge patios at Beltline-adjacent restaurants usually are packed in the spring, summer and fall. But, who wants to slog the Beltline when it’s 40 degrees and raining? Ladybird Grove & Mess Hall has a solution: warm, cozy Base Camp Tents — heated camping tents in the restaurant’s outdoor area that can be rented, and which offer a family-style menu that includes the indulgent Backyard BBQ Board.
Although the Backyard BBQ Board is available for $50 to anyone at the restaurant, it’s best enjoyed as part of the Base Camp Tents experience, which includes a smorgasbord of attractive, shareable appetizers served in a setting straight out of a Wes Anderson movie. The barbecue board is the exclamation point at the end of this menu, and it changes based on what’s available any given day from Ladybird’s smoker. In this case, it was pork spareribs, cheddarwurst sausage, chopped pork, half a chicken, two kinds of barbecue sauce, pickles, Texas toast and a side of mac and cheese.
One of the pleasures of the barbecue board is its do-it-yourself, mix-and-match nature. Have a few bites of saucy chopped pork on Texas toast, then try the chicken with classic red barbecue sauce or tangy Alabama white sauce. Dig into a meaty sparerib, conveniently sliced into an individual portion, and finish it off with a pickle. Try to wolf down as much mac and cheese as you can before you’re forced to share.
It’s a fun plate of food that encourages the social connection fostered by the tents. It might be cold outside, but inside these 144-square-foot shelters, you can bask in the warmth of friendship, libations and good food. The faux wood-burning furnace twinkling in the corner helps, too.
Ladybird Grove & Mess Hall. 684 John Wesley Dobbs Ave., Atlanta. 404-458-6838, ladybirdatlanta.com.
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