Fox Brothers bills itself as Atlanta’s best barbecue. A claim that big had better be backed up by some pretty tasty evidence, yes?
I hadn’t even heard of Fox Brothers Barbecue until yesterday, when every darn barber at American Haircuts was raving about the place. The cornbread with jalapenos? Divine. The brisket chili? The best *ever.* The deep-fried ribs? Amazing! The burnt ends? (Blackened tips of brisket, cooked down in the restaurant’s signature barbecue sauce.) Nothing like them, anywhere.
I left American Haircuts with two ideas. First: I’d like to patent a form of advertising that involves paying barbers to rhapsodize about a product in front of their customers. I mean, think about it: customers don’t come all that often, so you could sponsor the entire store for a week at a time, during which the barbers would spend all day every day talking up your restaurant or your movie or your car dealership. Pretty sneaky — but pretty cool.
Second idea? I wanted to go to Fox Brothers for dinner. So I snapped up Clyde and friend J. and drove out to Dekalb Ave. Once inside the door, things looked promising: lots of red walls, strings of Christmas lights, battered antique signage. In short: Fox Brothers looks the part. The real test, though, is always the food, yes?
The fried rib appetizer arrived in a little basket, looking, quite frankly, a little dubious. The ribs were coated in a thick, brown, blistered batter. They felt heavy in the hand, less like something you’d eat and more like something you’d throw. In the mouth, the meat is tender, but unbearably greasy; after just one, I announced I wanted to go home and drink a bottle of Dawn dishwashing detergent.
My entree — the blackened ends sandwich — looked and smelled delicious. Unfortunately, the ends were very, very blackened, and the sauce was so thick and heavy, I could barely taste the meat. The sandwich soon fell completely apart, and I found myself picking through an unappetizing soup of red sauce and black splinters of meat. I stopped about half-way through, feeling slightly nauseous.
The entree came with two sides: the cornbread, which was dry and tasted reheated, and inedible mac and cheese. Now, I ask you: how hard do you have to work to mess up mac and cheese, for goodness sake? But the Fox Brothers managed it, delivering a softball-sized wad of flimsy pasta clumped together with an almost flavorless, sticky, over-floured goop that only faintly tasted of cheese.
Clyde had the basic barbecue sandwich. Surely, given the name of the place, this was the jewel in the crown? But no — the sandwich elicited only a shrug. “It’s okay,” was all he said.
At that point, I’d had enough, but friend J. gave the place one last chance to impress with an order of banana pudding. Our waitress described it as “thick and creamy.” She was about half-right: it was thick — but not creamy. The consistency was just bizarre — more like clay than pudding — and, again, the flavor was weak and faint.
So: we left the home of “Atlanta’s best barbecue” still hungry … which is, I suppose, good for the waistline, but bad for return visits.