The new Loyal Q and Brew in East Cobb is all about smoked meat and beer on draft.
Given that the owner is Bob Campbell, who spent years opening and operating multiple Taco Mac locations around Atlanta, that’s not exactly surprising.
In addition to barbecue, the menu from chef Dan Diersen features shared plates, sides and vegetables, such as salt-roasted beets, cauliflower salad and a hefty portobello sandwich.
Diersen grew up in Suwanee, trained in the culinary arts at Johnson & Wales University, and worked at several Atlanta restaurants, including Canoe, Muss & Turner’s and Local Three, before moving to Chicago.
In the Windy City, he found his passion for smoking as the sous chef at Green Street Smoked Meats, a hip, Austin-style barbecue joint.
At Loyal Q, Diersen serves up meats by the pound or in platters or combos with two sides. You can choose from brisket, pulled pork, pulled chicken, turkey, salmon, link sausage, a half chicken, and a half or full rack of ribs.
Barbecue sauces include house, spicy and mustard. But Diersen said he’s working on a North Carolina-style vinegar sauce that will soon be added to the mix.
“Dan came up with what the menu would entail and all the ideas about how to smoke the meats,” Campbell said, “and all the rubs and sauces are his recipes.
“There are some nontraditional things like smoked beets that you don’t see on too many barbecue menus. And some of the things like stuffed jalapenos and sausage links, you see a lot in Texas. We spent time in Texas, cruising around the Hill Country, and some of those places go back generations.”
“We predominately use post oak from Texas in our smokers, and some hickory from North Carolina to round it out,” Diersen said. “We’re actually working on the same smokers I used at Green Street. They’re from J&R Manufacturing in Mesquite, Texas. The Oyler is our big guy. It will hold 1,800 pounds of meat in one smoke.”
Sides also are an important element of Diersen’s menu, playing a major role in the barbecue platters.
“A lot of the time at barbecue places, the sides go by the wayside because they want the meat to be the shining star,” he said. “I want everything on this menu to taste good, no matter what it is. I really put a lot of thought into the recipes. That’s why we make our mac and cheese fresh all day, and it’s gooey and creamy-good every time. And we blanch our fries in batches and fry them to order.”
Beyond meat and sides, there’s a section of healthy salads and grain bowls that includes the likes of a spinach and kale salad with grilled red onions, orange segments, pecans, goat cheese, dried cranberries, and roasted garlic dressing.
“We wanted to bring some fresh ideas, with some different takes on salads using fresh daily ingredients,” Diersen said, “and with the bowls, we’re trying to bring something different to the barbecue concept.”
Like the menu, the atmosphere at Loyal Q is a combination of traditional and contemporary designs, with rustic wood as far as the eye can see, and TVs tuned to sports channels in nearly every corner of the restaurant.
At the bar, the back wall is lined with hickory tap handles that certainly recall Taco Mac. But whiskey and beer are also a big part of the beverage menu, too.
“We have a little over 100 whiskeys now, and we’ll get that closer to 200,” Campbell said. “We have most of the premiums in the market. We have 25 wines by the glass, and a lot of things you don’t see in a barbecue restaurant, but we’re selling them.
“I might have wanted to do 100 beers on draft. But we have 32 beers on draft, which I think is the right amount now.”
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.