My only encounter with the celebrated South Carolina pitmaster Rodney Scott occurred a couple of years ago in Charleston. In town for a day to report on the South’s best bites, I had pushed down breakfast and brunch, made plans for supper on a nearby island, and wondered if I could squeeze in a fourth meal before driving back to Savannah. Circling Rodney Scott’s Whole Hog BBQ on King Street, I spotted the man himself out front. He flashed me one of those big, showy, come-on-in kind of waves the South is known for. I grinned and waved back.
But I didn’t stop, for obvious reasons: One can only eat so much.
As it turns out, I no longer have to travel to South Carolina or Alabama to experience the Rodney Scott touch.
In partnership with Birmingham-based Pihakis Restaurant Group, the James Beard Award winner’s burgeoning chain has ensconced itself in a swanky, glass fronted structure at the corner of Bronner Brothers Way and Metropolitan Parkway in southwest Atlanta. The venture seeks to marry Scott’s humble roots with the loftier expectations of the modern barbecue audience. This is not a roadside shack but an expansive, fast-casual concept with a full bar, fancy sandwiches and salads, sides to rival the mains, signature sauces and rubs, and plenty of merch — from trucker caps to autographed cookbooks.
After a rather lukewarm introductory meal — and I mean that literally — I’ve determined that the restaurant, which feels as roomy, bright and friendly as a Chevy dealership, can be a mixed blessing.
Friends, I come not to mop praise on Scott’s iconic whole hog pork and smoked brisket. I come to love on his impeccable wings and spare ribs, grandma-style potato salad and collards, and wonderful catfish and hush puppies. (Forget the cornbread and go for the fried doughboys, the cashier told me on more than one occasion.)
Rodney Scott’s BBQ
Open 11 a.m.-9 p.m. daily
668 Metropolitan Parkway, Atlanta; 678-855-7377