Today I stepped into a time warp.
The cast and crew of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” were swapped for the cast and crew of “O Brother Where Art Thou?” Stepping into Bobby & June’s Kountry Kitchen was like stepping through the looking glass—I came out the other side in a scene from 1956. I felt like Marty McFly gone country.
My original intention was to grab a sandwich. A cuban sandwich, actually, from Kool Korners which I’ve already reviewed here. As I approached the Kool Korner’s grocery I noticed a line outside–the doors weren’t open yet. I didn’t feel like waiting.
And then shining up ahead was a welcoming sign. It looked like this:
And I thought: “What the hey? I’m adventurous. I do adventurous things.”
So I parked in the Kountry Kitchen parking lot and made me way up to the porch:
Already I felt like I was in for something special. Something about this place seemed so quaint, so real that it practically oozed history. I came through the doors and was greeted by what seemed like a whirlwind of activity.
Immediately on my left were rows and rows of busy booths, people chowing down on fried chicken and BBQ. Up ahead was a counter–a long stretched counter–with weathered women behind it wearing outfits that resembled nurse’s uniforms.
A tall black man with only one eye yelled at me: “How many?!”
I faltered. “One!” I said. “For the counter, please!”
“All right,” he said, dismissively. I made my way over to the counter.
Immediately one of the women came over.
“Sweet tea honey?” she said.
“Sure,” I replied.
I looked around me. Giant Georgia Tech banners adorned the walls. A huge display of Coke bottles spanning several decades lined the shelves overhead. A deer’s head emerged near a doorway:
I studied the menu. It was a bit difficult. The waitress returned with my tea.
“What’s good here?” I asked.
“The BBQ,” she said, “beef or pork.”
“Ok,” I said, “Beef.”
“You get two sides, sweetie,” she replied, “you can pick from here or here.”
I looked at two lists of side dishes. One list was the permanent sides, one list was today’s sides.
“I’ll take corn bread,” I started.
“Well no sweetie,” she said, “we can swap the corn bread for the garlic bread and that already comes with that. So pick two more sides.”
I began to feel pressured.
“All right,” I concluded, “coleslaw and mac n’ cheese.”
“Thanks sugar,” she said, mozying off.
I whipped out my New Yorker and suddenly felt the Yankee in King Skynrd’s court.
I looked around me. This place was so full of life it was a bit overwhelming. The tables were practically bursting with activity; a woman cop bantered with a dishwasher, a waitress with dishes yelled “coming through! coming through!” just as another waitress backed up into her.
“I said ‘coming through!’ darling. You gotta listen!”
They laughed it off.
More people sat at the counter. Construction workers in orange vests, business men in ties, a woman wearing a tunic. Older Southern men came in clusters through the back; two rooms behind the counter were also buzzing with activity.
This wasn’t a restaurant, this was a museum of Southern heritage—a living, breathing relic from the past.
Soon my food arrived:
Looks scary, I know. I’m not used to BBQ like this—when I think BBQ I usually think ribs. This was basically slices of pallid meat dressed up with a meaty BBQ sauce. The sauce itself was great, the meat ok. The sides were fine–nothing wowzy. The mac n’ cheese had real cheese.
As for the cornbread…
It was pretty dry. I used it to lap up BBQ sauce and then it seemed to serve a purpose. Very Cider House Rules.
But even if the food wasn’t spectacular, that’s not the point. This is one of those places you really have to experience to experience the South. It’s a living breathing institution—a show of vibrancy and history in an otherwise pretty modernized city. Just down the block is The Four Seasons Hotel, Einstein Bagels, and Starbucks—three examples of just how much Atlanta (and the world!) has changed in the past few decades. We need places like “Bobby & June’s” to remind us of what was there before.