128 East Andrews
Atlanta, GA 30305
Sunday – Thursday 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Friday – Saturday 11 a.m. – 11 p.m.
Live music on Thursday, Friday and Saturday
Before checking out Jeff Ross at Improv Atlanta, we headed to Smokebelly BBQ to grab a couple of drinks and some food.
I guess before I go into my long winded experience here, I’ll save some of you the trouble: it was meh.
It was good. I mean, I ate everything. My drinks were good. But there was something so fundamentally blah about everything there that just weighed funny on me.
Maybe it’s because Smokebelly is attempting to bring this idea of BBQ to a notoriously uppity part of Atlanta (whattup Buckhead) to people who no matter how Southern they claim to be would probably eat ribs with a fork and knife.
The decor? Beautiful. The entire establishment is a well thought out design meant to evoke that ever so popular hipster/rustic/but chic feeling. Yeah, you have exposed brick and wooden tables, but the tables are so new the wood is shiny to the point where you can see your reflection in the top. All the patrons were in the same sundress and all the men bought their khaki shorts at the same store. Everything about it felt cookie cutter and forced.
I ended up getting the Chopped Brisket Sandwich and a side of the Sweet Corn and Edamame Succotash, my friend got the pulled pork sandwich with a side of mac’n’cheese.
The pulled pork sandwich was dry and although the menu boasts about the BBQ sauces on your table, ours had none. We asked our waiter but he seemed to forget and at that point we were already so disappointed we didn’t feel the need to fight it.
The mac’n’cheese was lukewarm, and nothing about it seemed creamy…or enticing. It reminded me of the left over mac’n’cheese on the stove that’s congealed but you eat it anyway because you’ve drank a half a bottle of wine by yourself and anything seems appealing (or is that just me?). When I pull up a bite of mac’n’cheese I want to see that ooey-gooey cheese trail follow my fork!
For a perfect example of this, check out my pictures of the mac’n’cheese at TAP.
The brisket sandwich was okay. I enjoyed the flavor but they betrayed the one consistent pattern I’ve seen at all phenomenal BBQ joints: the brisket was smothered in BBQ sauce. Was it tasty? Err, yeah. Salty, but good. But brisket should stand on its own. Then if you want to add the BBQ sauces that were supposed to be on our table, so be it.
My sweet corn and edamame succotash was good…the first bite wasn’t the same as the last. All the oil had seeped to the bottom of the bowl, so I ended up not finishing it. I mean, don’t get me wrong – I love edamame! And I know what they’re probably doing is trying to create fun and new exciting sides for BBQ…but if you can’t get that right, then stick to a classics and give me the option for some collard greens (there’s no option for that on the menu).
Instead they had “Smokey Braised Kale” – I mean really? Can you pick a trendier food than kale?!? Just…give me collard greens!
Service was slow and disorganized. We got our food and drinks without too much of a wait, but our conversation was constantly interrupted by no less than three different servers approaching our table asking if anyone had seen us yet, did we need anything? I guess +3 points for being attentive and -5 for not having an organized section system worked out for your servers!
Our waiter, although friendly, mumbled. We asked a few times for him to speak up (we couldn’t hear him!) and he just…didn’t. And the outdoor patio was not loud at all. Then when we decided we didn’t want any starters he asked us three more times “are you sure?” Listen man, I know you’re aiming for the ideal check here, but pestering us won’t change our minds!
All in all, it wasn’t the worst experience. If you go, you’ll enjoy your food, you’ll enjoy the drink and I’m sure you’ll enjoy the people watching as much as we did. I just expected more than “it’s okay” and was disappointed.
If you want REAL BBQ there are a thousand other places you should hit up first – and you’ll need to leave Buckhead to find them.