Updated: Nov 18
The author of this review had some cognitive issues Thursday morning. Some would say that's true every morning--cruel, but fair.
The loyal Trailheads scribe made numerous rookie mistakes Thursday, the first being getting the hiking time wrong. Amazing. We always hike at 10 a.m. when the weather isn't hellishly hot, but for some kooky reason, Patrick showed up at the trail parking lot promptly at 9 a.m. Mistake #1.
The early bird catches...well, nothing in this case. But he did have time to catch up on yet another podcast.
He also forgot to bring a Trailheads hat—mistake #2. Fortunately, Adidas recently recruited Patrick as its spokes dude after they dumped Ye (who dropped the "Kan"). The early fool wore an Adidas logo hat, earning a cool $302 million––much more than he makes pimping Trailheads gear, which you can get here (the profits go to good causes).
At least Patrick was wearing a Trailheads t-shirt (get yours at the swag link above). Full Trailheads gear is not required, but our bylaws state members MUST wear at least one item of branded finery or suffer ten lashes of a copperhead. We mean business, people.
At 9:15, Patrick called Trail Master Guy, asking where he was. "I'm at home," he said. "We're hiking at 10, remember?"
"Oh," Patrick said. "Right. I'll see you then."
At 10:10, Guy called Patrick. "Where are you?"
"In the Vickery Creek Trail parking lot," he said. "Where are you guys?"
"In The Mill parking lot," Guy said. "That's where we're supposed to meet."
"Oh," Patrick said. "Right. I'll be there in a few minutes."
Mistake #3. Embarrassing. He would suffer a hike of shame.
Patrick (now known as "Treek" since he is replacing "Ye" in the Adidas stable of talent) arrived and joined forces with Trail Master Guy, Steve, Roy, and Fio. George and Brad had business-y things to do and couldn't make it, leaving Elvis in the lurch. Again.
The four men began their hike, and Patrick realized he had forgotten his walking stick. Mistake #4.
He was concerned about making so many rookie mistakes, so he went to WebMD and put in his symptoms. The results came back: "Head-Up-Assitis" was the diagnosis. At least now Patrick knows what he's dealing with. The others, upon learning this, slowly nodded in agreement.
Trailheads began their assault on the trails by Vickery Creek Waterfall. If you've never been, get going. It's a beautiful hike.
In 1839, locals built mills on the banks of Vickery Creek that became The Roswell Manufacturing Company. The cotton mills produced the sheeting, yarn, and rope for the Confederate Army––until Union forces arrived on July 5th, 1864. The Yankees didn't cotton much to that idea.
So, the Federal troops burned down the mill. Insurrectionists must learn lessons. And besides, it's just fun to burn things down. Ask that Sherman fellow.
After the war, the factory was rebuilt and back in operation by 1867. Yada yada yada, the industrial revolution came, technological improvements happened, and time marched on its cruel way until the obsolete mill ceased operations in 1975. Now, the brick building is a tourist attraction. And visitors are encouraged not to set any fires. Sorry.
Up the way from the mill is the Vickery Creek Waterfalls, a source of power and beauty. We hiked past the dam and saw a large pipe spanning the creek. Roy, always known for his bravery and falling (his nickname is 'Roy Tumbles'), walked ten feet out on the pipe.
"I think we can make it," he said.
"No," we replied. "Let's keep to the trails." We weren't sure if Roy was serious or bluffing, but we didn't want to be pallbearers. Caskets are heavy, especially when they contain waterlogged contents. He let out a sigh of relief and inched his way back. Tumbles knows a tumble op when he sees one.
We double-backed and crossed the covered bridge spanning Vickery Creek. Then we climbed many flights of steel stairs to the path.
"This is good for your glutes," said Trail Master Guy.
"Shut up," we whined. "Why didn't they build an escalator? And what the hell are 'glutes'?"
At the end of the stairway to heaven, we began hiking the official trail, which also kept ascending. Our glutes would be thanking us later for this and for probably a couple of days after.
The path was tricky to navigate, with leaves covering roots and rocks, but none of us fell, and we supposed we might be the most athletic men in the world. Tough as nails, rugged as Sherman Tanks. Impressed?
We chewed our usual nonsensical fat, proposing grandiose solutions for thorny problems and earning our keeps as philosopher kings. Along the way, we came upon a magnificently eerie sight, large dried magnolia leaves scattered along the forest bed. It looked like acres of albino elephant ears––you don't see that every day.
Steve's flora app confirmed the leaves were a type of giant Magnolia. We doubted the app but had nothing else to go on. We proclaimed them the most giant Magnolia leaves we've ever seen.
After a couple of hours of hiking and wondering if we'd ever make it back to the parking lot, we returned to the covered bridge and crossed it for the ride to our barbecue reward––and this week's winner is Slope's BBQ in Roswell.
This joint traced its roots to 1990 when Bob White began cooking barbecue. At first, he barbecued for neighbor gatherings and church cookouts. People couldn't get enough, so Bob opened a small restaurant in Hickory Flat, had more success, and opened Slope's BBQ on Crossville Road in Roswell in 1991. There are a couple of other franchised locations in the metro area, and Bob sold his interest in the restaurant earlier this year.
Trailheads had worked up ferocious appetites and were excited when we saw an impressive display of pig figurines inside the door. There are swine knickknacks throughout the place, including a collection of stuffed pigs––Bob sure liked his pig memorabilia––it's a thing in many barbecue joints. You need to have your pig stuff to be taken seriously and establish your swine cred.
The menu has everything you'd expect from a barbecue joint, including a few items you wouldn't, like chicken fried steak and meatloaf (the special of the day). And yes, if you were wondering, there's pork.
To relive college memories, Guy went for the chicken fried steak, which he described as "beyond delicious." We don't speak Guy-ese, but we suspect he meant that he went to Flavortown (population two guys: Guy F. and Guy T.). He also loved his lima beans and coleslaw and worked his eating utensils hard. We wondered about next week's special. Might it be Steak Fried Chicken, just to mix things up?
Roy and Patrick ordered the chopped pulled pork (inside/out) plates with two sides. Roy had the minced coleslaw, which he liked, and the fried okra, which he loved. The healthy green vegetable was enveloped in a protective batter and fried crispy, not oily. It's just the kind of food the nutritionally minded hiker craves.
Patrick pulled his head out long enough to enjoy the sides of onion rings fried crispy brown (also a NEW item the menu announced) and jalapeno cheese grits. The onion rings performed well in turns inside his mouth, but he thought the grits could use more bang. Turn up the cowbell, he suggests.
Both Roy and Patrick wished their pulled pork had more smoke flavor. We like barbecue to carry memories of the smoker to our tastebuds. The meat was tender and porkylicious but needed some flavorful enhancement. The guys soon became big fans of Slopes' mustard sauce with a sweet yet vinegary tang that brought out the flavor in the meat. Thank you, sauce!
Steve had the pulled pork sandwich on an untoasted bun. Trailheads prefer toasted buns––if anyone's asking––they stand up better to juicy meat and slippery sauce. For his sides, he had the minced slaw and Brunswick Stew. The slaw was fine, and the stew was good but could have used a spicier flavor. As you can tell, we like our smoke and spice.
After cleaning our plates, we understand why Slopes BBQ has been a mainstay in Roswell for so long. The lunch crowd appeared to have many repeat customers and regulars who came in every day. One diner we found especially charming, enjoying her barbecue while watching her stories. Slopes BBQ feels like home.
Drop in and pull up a plate of grub if you're out that way.
Rating: Four Ribs*
34 E. Crossville Road
Roswell GA 30075
*About Our Barbecue Rating System
Trailheads do not claim to be food experts, epicureans, or sophisticated palettes. We are hungry hikers who attack a selected barbecue venue and ravage our way through whatever smoked fare and fixings they're dishing.
Our reviews feature what we believe are the highlights of the menu we sampled. So our intent is not to trash talk the saintly folks who tend to smoldering smokers on hot, humid summer days. They are sacrificing themselves in the noble art of smoking meats and feeding the drooling masses. Many are independent entrepreneurs who are the backbone of this humming American economy.
Now that you know our standards, you may wonder why every barbecue place gets a four ribs rating. The answer is easy: our group has acclaimed designers, and they think the ribs graphic looks cool.
Who are we to argue? Enjoy.