It was a typically bright and sunny Tuesday afternoon when the White Coat Chef called to say that he had a day off coming up and asked if I would be interested in checking out a new BBQ restaurant with him. I'm never one to doubt the White Coat Chef. The guy has a palate beyond anything I can hope for and a love for smoked food that borders on the obsessive. So, we made a date to meet at Big Shanty Smokehouse on Cherokee St. in downtown Kennesaw the next day.
Arriving at the Big Shanty Smokehouse, I was immediately struck by the rustic, down-home appearance of the restaurant. This place looks just like the kind of BBQ restaurant I would run, if the Gods ever smiled on me. An older building, the main restaurant was formerly a house that was converted into a restaurant at some point. Most importantly, the restaurant has ample parking and a generous patio to accommodate plenty of Q-lovers.
The White Coat Chef was running a few minutes behind, so I decided to drop in and check out the restaurant. I had done my research before visiting Big Shanty. They received quite a favorable review from the AJC just a little over a month ago. From the article, I learned that this was a family operation with father, mother, and daughter running the place. The chief proprietor, Chic Dillard, has a strong background in the food service industry, having served as a consultant for Fatt Matt's Rib Shack and Barnacles. He is backed up by his wife Sissy and his daughter Shannon, both with food service backgrounds. They had decided to stop working for others and try and make a go of it themselves. I introduced myself as I walked in the door of Big Shanty and was welcomed with smiles and an eagerness to show what they had to offer. I felt like I was at home already.
While awaiting the White Coat Chef's arrival, Chic and Shannon talked with me about the restaurant and showed me around the place, including the smokehouse. I walked away with a few important impressions. First off, this place is CLEAN. These folks care about their investment and it shows. Chic has a great smokehouse out back of the restaurant, powered by a nice Southern Pride smoker. The kitchen layout is simple and well thought out. The Dillard's take pride in the fact that they cook all their Q, sides, and baked goods from scratch. They even bother to chop all their own cabbage for their cole slaw. There's love in this BBQ.
Big Shanty BBQ is a pork-centric restaurant with a notable inclusion of some delicous smoked chicken. Of everything I saw and tasted that afternoon, the overwhelming memory is of a ridiculously large half rack of spare ribs, offered for a mere $8.50. Big Shanty also offers smoked chicken and pulled pork. Of the two, I was partial to the smoked chicken which was very moist and flavorful. The pulled pork is finely pulled. Personally, I'm partial to the big-chunk method of pulled pork. But, Big Shanty's pulled pork had a nice, smokey flavor and was tender and moist.
Overall, the ribs stole the day. Generous portions and a very reasonable price make them the obvious choice. As for the sides and the desserts, you really can't go wrong. That day, we sampled the brunswick stew, green beans, baked beans, cole slaw, and blackberrry pie. Each of them were good in their own way. I really feel like I should mention that the pie kicked butt. Shannon is really finding her way as a baker.
There is some room for a few tweaks - maybe some lemon juice or cider vinegar in the cole slaw, maybe a litte more zip in the pork rub - but these are only niggles. They really don't matter. Big Shanty is putting out quality product and you ought to stop by if you get a chance. I'm certain you won't be disappointed.
As the White Coat Chef and I were headed out the door, I noticed a small basket by the register with some shrink-wrapped pork shoulder bones and a sign that read "Don't Forget Your Best Friend.. Dog Bones $1.00". I smiled at the resourcefulness of the notion and asked Shannon how they were selling. She said that they have customers that stop by twice a week to pick them up. I think it's just a great idea and a great example of Big Shanty's spirit. These folks just wanna take good care of you.
Address: 3393 Cherokee St NW, Kennesaw, GA 30144-1905 Phone - 770-499-PIGG (7444)