The Barbecue Kitchen is practically around the corner from Atlanta’s Hartsfield Airport, making it a wonderful first stop for arriving travelers. The barbecue is swell, but in fact the real allure is southern vegetables. Collard greens, rutabagas, squash casserole: Each is a shot in the arm. The collards are plain and leafy and powerfully GREEN; the rutabagas taste of sweet earth and fresh-dug roots; the squash is falling-apart soft and innocent.
Vegetables come in their own little bowls atop a partitioned unbreakable plate, the largest section of which ought to be filled with rough-chopped barbecue painted with tangy cinnabar sauce. The meat is yeomanly, although the biggest pieces tended to be dry (thank God for the sauce). Given a choice of cornbread or biscuits, go for both, the former not the least bit sweet (a perfect companion for those greens), the latter a good moppin’ sop for the last of the barbecue. Of course, the proper beverage to pair with this meal is ice tea, served in a tall tumbler.
It all comes ultra-fast, delivered by a waitress who is one of a team of veterans whom diner aficionados will love. I envision these birds back in the days before smoking was evil, toting meals to a table with an unfiltered Camel precariously dangling from their lips, never letting ash hit a customer’s plate (unless the customer deserved it).