Fresh Air BBQ, Bogart, GA. http://www.freshairbbq.com/
After having been disappointed this past weekend with a bad bbq experience, the opportunity to rectify that came just 3 days later while in Athens, GA. I'd known for some time that there were actually a couple of Fresh Air locations in the Athens area, but it had been several years since I had been to the location on Hull Road. Today's trip to Athens worked out perfectly for a trip to Fresh Air. I'd gotten down to the UGA offices at Rivers Crossing nearly 90 minutes before when I needed to be there completely by accident! :-) Running into 3 colleagues affiliated with the Georgia Association of Educational Leaders right before lunch could not have been any more fortuitous. Hal, Dusty, and Jack agreed to indulge my bbq fetish, and honestly, three of us thought that we were going to another place that I'd never been called "The Butt Hut". Rather than driving us to the closer location, Jack actually drove us over to the Bogart location of Fresh Air.
The Bogart location is not really that convenient to the UGA campus, but the Hull Road location may actually be a little closer. Since I've done reviews on the Jackson and Macon Fresh Air locations, I am not really going to go into a great deal of detail regarding the meal other than to say that the stew and bbq were up to Fresh Air's long history (since 1929) tradition. The bottom line is simply the fact that there are a number of good eating establishments in Athens. From a BBQ standpoint, there may be a couple. Fresh Air exceeds expectations on either side of town!!!
Mountain Man BBQ, Dillard, GA.
I really hate to write a bad BBQ review. I really hate even more getting really bad BBQ. It may well have been a "bad day", but today's trip to Mountain Man BBQ was one of the biggest disappointments that Debbie and I have ever had in doing Q reviews. We decided late in the week, on like Friday to be exact, to take off and spend a couple of days and one night enjoying the Rabun County area thanks to the wonderful generosity of friends who own a home just outside of Dillard. We had enjoyed Oinkers the last time up in Clayton, GA, and on Saturday, Cinco de Mayo 2012, we had a wonderful time dining at a downtown Clayton joint called "The Universal Joint." While The Universal Joint isn't a bbq joint, it is a cute little old gas station turned into a bar and grill. Rumor has it, and you know how those go, that Alan Jackson frequents this place while staying at his Rabun County lake home. I do suggest you trying out "The Universal Joint" if you are in the area.
Now, on to the Mountain Man. As always, we are looking for bbq joints we haven't visited. Mountain Man may well be Georgia's northernmost bbq joint. The place sits just a stone's throw away from the North Carolina State line. I got a little worried about what we may find with the Mountain Man experience when I looked at their menu online and found that it seemed that pizza was getting more attention than the bbq. The owners, I am told, are originally from Chicago, so as narrow minded as it might sound, I really wondered if Chicago deep dish was more the passion that slow smoked pork.
Debbie and I got to the joint for an early lunch before we left town on Sunday. While secretly hoping for a really good bbq experience, I was anxious to place my typical order of a sandwich and stew. To Mountain Man's credit, the sandwich is fairly priced at less than $5 and comes with a little cup of slaw and home fried potato chips. The order came out quickly likely aided by the fact that we were only the second set of diners in the joint. While waiting on our meal to come, we sampled the two available sauces. Both the mild and the hot sauce were actually very good sauces. It is a shame that good sauce could not even make this barbecue very good. In one bite of the pork, Debbie is already giving a thumbs down. It wouldn't be long before I would join her in my opinion.
Let me give the additional positives before throwing down on the bbq. The stew was actually a pretty good stew that was pretty much on the hash side. The color wasn't really that great, but the taste was some where around the 4 of 5 scale. The chips, while slightly off color like the stew, were pretty good. They were clean, warm, and not greasy. The slaw that came with the bbq was sufficient with good taste.
Now, the bbq. As indicated above, Debbie had already tasted her sandwich and was throwing up red flags. My first thought, or maybe even hope, was that she was being overly critical. She wasn't. Upon first taste, I was wondering "what is wrong with this bbq?" I salted and sauced it, and no matter how much of the two that I added, you just couldn't make this work. As indicated, I really hate writing negative reviews, but when your main bbq partner leaves the joint swearing off bbq, that does not make me happy.
As previously stated, I just hope this was a bad bbq day for Mountain Man. For the two of us, though, when back in Rabun County, we will either look for another bbq joint or hit downtown for a stop in The Universal Joint in hopes of running into Alan Jackson!