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Bone Lick BBQ review, Midtown

3stars5

$-$$

On a rainy Monday night on the cusp of spring, I drench myself dashing between doorways and awnings to get a taste of Mike’s revered pulled pork sandwich. I’d looked forward to this for weeks, and a little weather wasn’t going to stand in my way.

But as I pull on the locked door to P’Cheen, I realize that the pop-up barbecue nights won’t begin until the next week, and curse my way back into the storm.

After becoming sous chef and eventually partner at P’Cheen in Inman Park, Mike LaSage began taking over the International Bistro on Monday nights and serving his own twist on old-school barbecue. It was soon apparent that he was on to something, and that a smoker of his own was in order.

Bone Lick BBQ, opened in West Midtown in August, and now LaSage serves up his ‘cue daily. Situated at the foot of the Apex West Midtown building, LaSage and his partners carved out a fun modern-kitschy space, complete with a vintage 1940’s skee-ball machine, arcade, and a claw-foot bathtub of beer.

AJC Dining Team member Jon Watson writes about popular eats.

AJC Dining Team member Jon Watson writes about popular eats.

His menu has the hallmarks of a refined chef tackling the “unrefined” world of barbecue. While you can expect to find the staple cross-section of classic barbecue here, he isn’t afraid to experiment and push a few boundaries. Hardcore traditionalists, beware.

But those looking to expand their barbecue palates should always ask about the International BBQ of the Day (MKT). Here, you see LaSage bring in a wide variety of international influences into his ‘cue, blending flavors and cooking methods in unconventional ways. I sift through cumin roasted potatoes to find the last morsels of Tecate and chili marinated goat ($18). A difficult meat to tenderize, LaSage treats the lean meat to a 24-hour stint in his Old Hickory Smoker.

If LaSage isn’t scared to buck barbecue tradition, he is downright brazen about giving his menu a healthy dose of heat. The timid should pay attention to the pig-face skull and crossbones dotting the menu – two pig-skulls means “Hella spicy” – because they appear often. For heat junkies, this reads like a playground, but for the capsaicin-averse, it is more of a minefield.

The Legendary Pulled Pork Sammy- pulled pork, slaw, homemade pickles and a side of Jalape-o mac.  (BECKY STEIN/special)

The Legendary Pulled Pork Sammy- pulled pork, slaw, homemade pickles and a side of Jalape-o mac. (BECKY STEIN/special)

The slow heat of the sausage plate ($14) had me going a little cross-eyed near the end, and the decision to pair this with the equally spicy pork braised collards wasn’t helping. But the strong smoke in the sausage and rich, porky greens kept bringing me back for more punishment. You may opt to take your order of wings ($9) “naked”, but double-dipped in the sweet heat of chipotle barbecue sauce is the way to go.

Similarly, choose from Bone Lick’s array of five sauces wisely, as most have their fair share of kick. The vinegary North Carolina and mustard-based South Carolina sauces prove to be generally mild, but a heavy hand with the Pepper Vinegar sauce rakes black pepper down the back of the throat. And if the spicy-sweet Kansas City sauce is too much, you can always reach for the aptly named Wimp Sauce, with all of the sweet, none of the heat.

While innovation and novelty are nice, Bone Lick won’t win over hardcore barbecue lovers unless LaSage can execute on the basics.

I breathe a sigh of relief as I bite into my pulled pork sandwich ($8) and immediately taste the white oak and pecan smoke steeped into the blackened bark of the meat. Pecan Smoked Chicken ($12) surprises me with the deep penetration of smoke and reservoir of moisture lurking beneath the skin. And despite appearances, the thick black bark on my spare ribs ($12, ¼ rack) doesn’t overwhelm the flavor of the meat. Sully these dry ribs with sauce if you’d like, but there is more than enough flavor there to shine without it.

 FOOD: The Menage Trois - spare ribs, brisket, 1/4 chicken with a choice of side-  pork braised collards.  (BECKY STEIN/special)

FOOD: The Menage Trois - spare ribs, brisket, 1/4 chicken with a choice of side- pork braised collards. (BECKY STEIN/special)

But what of that boon to pitmasters everywhere, the ever-so temperamental brisket? Unfortunately, I have to call this one a draw. My first taste came as part of the Menage Trois ($18), a three-meat sampler, and my slice suffered from dehydration, obviously a cut from the flat. But on a return trip, I’m awarded with a honking slab of juicy and smoky beef in my Brisketlicious platter ($14). There is certainly an element of timing with brisket, and LaSage proves that he knows how to do it correctly. But a little work on consistency may be needed.

Overall, Bone Lick BBQ executes the foundations of barbecue extremely well, while injecting some fun and innovation into an otherwise tradition-steeped cuisine. If you want to expand your barbecue horizons, this West Midtown smokehouse is worth a trip.

 

BONE LICK BBQ – Midtown
3stars5
 
Food: barbecue with international twists
Service: friendly and sufficient for a barbecue joint, but can get overwhelmed
Best dishes: pulled pork Sammy, pecan smoked chicken, pulled pork
Vegetarian selections: one salad and a veggie sandwich
Credit cards: Visa, Mastercard, and American Express
Hours: Kitchen 11 a.m.-11 p.m., bar open late daily
Children: should be fine
Parking: free parking in the Apex deck
Reservations: yes
Wheelchair access: yes
Smoking: no
Noise level: low to loud, depending on the crowd
Patio: yes
Takeout: yes
 ratings_key_febUSE

29 comments Add your comment

sheriff john brown

November 1st, 2012
8:03 am

Another great find for BBQ lovers is “The Greater Good BBQ” in Tucker. Family owned and operated, everything prepared from scratch. Well worth the trip…!!!

Steve

November 1st, 2012
9:19 am

Love bone lick!!! The brisket (smokey and delicious) is far and away my favorite, but I also love the pulled pork which is super tender. Wings are also a must have here, I think they are some of the best smoked wings in town. Get them double dipped. If you feel like you need some more more meat, get the baked beans as a side. Their bbq beans are mixed with a ton of pulled pork (seriously, seemed like half the container was pork).

RK

November 1st, 2012
10:07 am

Tucker resident

November 1st, 2012
10:09 am

Greater Good BBQ is OK, but good BBQ MUST BE SMOKED!!! How can you call it BBQ if it isn’t smoked??

Hank

November 1st, 2012
10:47 am

Hansi

November 1st, 2012
11:47 am

“LaSage and his partners carved out a fun modern-kitschy space…” great, another hipster hangout.

Edward

November 1st, 2012
11:54 am

I think you meant to say brisket is the “bane” of pitmasters everywhere.

/pedant

Tom

November 1st, 2012
12:10 pm

1133 Huff Rd
Atlanta, 30318

A-Town Down!

November 1st, 2012
12:17 pm

I’ve been there for dinner twice and they have been out of brisket both times. The tater tot appetizer is fantastic. Ask for no jalepenos if you don’t like spicy.

Edward

November 1st, 2012
12:17 pm

Friends and I fell in love with the Monday night BBQ at P’Cheen. The International offering was nearly always a great choice. I haven’t tried Bone Lick, yet, but anxiously look forward to it soon.

Paddy

November 1st, 2012
12:50 pm

Tucker resdent……are you sayng Greater Good Bar-B-Ques is not smoked? I could not really tell from your post. Low & slow is Bar-B-Que everything else is just grilling.

donkey200

November 1st, 2012
1:56 pm

What happened to Gene Lee???

Bubba

November 1st, 2012
2:49 pm

Fresh Air BBQ
Jackson, GA

Since 1929 the mother church of Georgia BBQ.

If you are looking for sushi, a salad bar or tofu, this isn’t the place for you.

Donny

November 1st, 2012
3:40 pm

C’mon Bubba, Fresh Air in Jackson is fine but ‘the mother church of Georgia BBQ’? Thats like saying John Kessler is ‘the greatest author in the history of earth’. John’s great but not THAT great, same with Fresh Air.

That being said I bet a lot of midtown residents have been quite disapointed after seeing the name of the restaurant and entering only to find it is a BBQ joint and not something else.

Joe

November 1st, 2012
9:59 pm

They were out if brisket the night I was there (early) and I found the dry rub overpowered everything. I was excited to try them but was disappointed. Sounds like they still frequently run out. Cest la vie. Back to Community Q.

Edward

November 1st, 2012
11:08 pm

Nobody wants to drive to bumf*** Jackson for some dried out old BBQ. This Bubba dude trolls every mention of BBQ with his spam for this has-been restaurant. Enough already.

Edward

November 1st, 2012
11:11 pm

Donny, you can always go to Hooters or Taco Mac if that’s your preference. Just sayin’…

SAWB

November 2nd, 2012
1:11 am

I tried that place in Tucker twice and it wasn’t very good, but maybe I need to give it another shot.

Donny

November 2nd, 2012
9:37 am

Edward, not too good at reading between the lines I see….

Edward

November 2nd, 2012
10:18 am

Donny, so you can post a punny remark and I can’t? Think about it, Hooters… Taco… read between the lines, dude. :-)

UltraRage

November 2nd, 2012
11:07 am

Rally round the family…with a pocket full of shells…

Caine

November 2nd, 2012
12:16 pm

mike lasage’s bbq is some of the best in the city … the austintacious is hands down one of the best sandwiches ever … get the wings naked, not double dipped – they are perfectly smokey and tender without sauce … his (meaty) collards are award winning … i could eat my weight in the jalapeño mac & cheese … they don’t serve left overs from the day before, either – always fresh … although it is run by successful restaurateurs, it’s like any new dining spot – give them some time to work the kinks out …

[...] reading this review doesn’t get your mouth watering, I don’t know what [...]

Donny

November 2nd, 2012
12:52 pm

Edward, my aploogies. You threw me for a loop with including Taco Mac. Had you said Tilted Kilt I would’ve been with you….

Kay Ryder

November 2nd, 2012
1:37 pm

These guys have worked their butts off. Very well deserved review of some amazing BBQ. (Haters gonna hate.)

Baltisraul.....

November 2nd, 2012
3:17 pm

Fresh Air Bar-B-Que is good. But it does not seperate itself from from a host of good places in Metro Atl. If you are down that way, fine, stop in. But nothng special to make that drive. C

Ptc dawg

November 2nd, 2012
4:36 pm

The menu looks good, must try the collards

wheelinwayne

November 2nd, 2012
5:54 pm

I THINK THE AJC OFFED GENE AND COOKED HIM FOR SOME UNSPOKEN OFFENSE. WHEN HE LEFT HIS GOODBYE WAS POSTED AND THEN QUICKLY REMOVED…I DO MISS HIS REVIEWS. Y’ALL EVER SEE 1999 MOVIE “THE COOK, THE THIEF, HIS WIFE AND HER LOVER”?

buckhead willie

November 4th, 2012
7:22 pm

I’m displaying my redneckedness here with total abandon, but the fried pork skins they do as an appetizer at Bone Lick are absolutely incredible, perhaps the best in all the known world.