I found this very perplexing. Why cook meat to the proper temperature but leave it so bland? After one meal, I decided this might be the way you’d season meat if you just expected every customer to come in and slather everything with sauce. Maybe that’s the case. You can pour on the sweet Kansas City sauce or mildly spicy Texas sauce on the tables here and never notice the under-seasoned meats. Though, of course, you won’t be noticing much of anything but the flavor of the sauce.
A sandwich with sausage, bacon and pulled pork is accompanied by brisket chili and jalapeno cornbread at King Barbecue. CONTRIBUTED BY WYATT WILLIAMS
The strange part about this is that the sides at King Barbecue are great, perfectly seasoned and full of flavor. The first time I ate at King, as I dug into some lean, dry-ish brisket that was missing the mark, I expected to leave disappointed with my meal. Then I tasted the collard greens, which are rich and deeply flavored enough to taste like leaves made from bacon. I drank the last of the pot liquor like I was shooting whiskey. The mac and cheese was so creamy and soft that I hardly realized how quickly I was eating it before it was gone.
Is this, I wondered, what it is like to be a b-sider? In my subsequent meals, the sides have consistently outshone the meats. The coleslaw is tangy and punctuated with just the right amount of celery seed. The potato salad is a tasty little cup spiked with cheddar cheese and bits of red potato skin. The brisket might be best in the rich, dark, smoky chili served here, which goes just right with our recent cold, rainy days. With jalapeno cornbread, which is served as a fluffy, whole miniature loaf with a side of whipped butter, that could be a meal unto itself.
The selection of pickles at King Barbecue ranges from extra-hot ghost peppers to familiar dill cucumbers. CONTRIBUTED BY WYATT WILLIAMS
Despite an otherwise typical menu, King Barbecue does possess one eccentric touch. To the right of the register, there is a serve-yourself selection of a dozen pickles, which range from familiar slivered red onions and dill cucumber chips to oddities like extra-hot ghost peppers and Kool-Aid cucumbers. You could use these to perk up one of the sandwiches, which do need a little perking, but I came to think of them as just one more excellent side: a pickle plate.
I don’t think I’ll ever become a b-sider. I don’t really believe in that way of thinking. The potential magic of barbecued meat is too great. Yet, next time I’m at King Barbecue, I could happily just order a platter of sides, instead.
11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sundays-Thursdays; 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays. Avalon, 4195 Avalon Blvd., Alpharetta. 678-248-5159, kingbarbecueatl.com.
Recommended dishes: Baby back ribs. Collard greens. Coleslaw. Potato salad. Brisket chili. Pickles.
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