I like to think of barbecue as a verb rather than a noun. It’s something that happens, not a pile of product sitting around waiting to be consumed.
That’s why barbecue restaurants can be so disappointing. One time the barbecue is the stuff of dreams — moist, tinged with pink, smoky in that way that suggest an alchemical union of wood and flesh. And then on another day it is dry, stringy and forgettable.
I still recall how exciting it was years ago to discover Hometown Barbecue when it operated from a weekends-only travel trailer in a Lawrenceville parking lot. People lined up early and waited to get their hands on a slab of the incredibly juicy and smoky ribs. Then the owners moved into a full-service restaurant. I visited a couple of times and found the product bedeviled by the inconsistencies that always beset barbecue restaurants.
Who knows how Community Q BBQ will fare in the long run, but I’m here to tell you that after a mere fortnight on the scene, this place is producing some of the best barbecue I’ve eaten in Atlanta.
Located in the former Epicurean Catering space in Decatur, Community Q is the latest project from David Roberts — the fine-dining-trained chef who was a co-founder of the original Sam & Dave’s in Marietta. Working with two partners here, Roberts has reprised many of the barbecued meats and side dishes from Sam & Dave’s.
I don’t have a full report — just one takeout container of food that made me one happy little piggie.
I ordered this wonderful pulled pork ($6.50 for a sandwich; $11 for a platter) that, as you can see, is plenty pink from smoke and plumbed through with crisp, delicious patches of “bark,” or surface meat. Roberts told dining critic Meridith Ford Goldman that he’s using Berkshire pork from Georgia’s Riverview Farms.
This generous pile of meat came with a very buttery slice of Texas toast, a bunch of pickle slices and two sides.
I had to try Roberts’ famous three-cheese mac, made with rigatoni. I really loved the way the crusy, sharp cheese was tempered with sweet cream. This push-pull of flavor justifies the unreal richness of this dish.
Porky collard greens, however, were too salty for me, and the greens were more sodden than silky in their potlikker.
I haven’t tried anything else on the menu, but I hear from friends that Community Q makes a mean beef brisket and a ginormous beef rib. Have you tried these meats? What should I order next?