Updated: Feb 22
The Trailheads did Dry January, abstaining from liquor––but not lecturing drinkers about the evils of their liquid sinning––only to slip into Wet February. We had a rainy hike on the Henry's Mill Falls Trail to Bear Creek, southwest of Atlanta in Fairburn. Our group (Roy, Brad, George, Guy, and Patrick) was missing one member, Steve, who was on the disabled list and getting fluid drained from his knee, followed by steroid fortification at his doctor's office. We expect Steve to put up some great hiking stats following his steroid treatment. But he will now never be elected to the hiking Hall Of Fame.
The day began as we sat drinking our coffee in our respective homes, watching the rain pour down. It didn't look promising, but then we got a text from Guy that the weather would be dry south of town. We knew better than buying that line, so we immediately fired up Google, The Weather Channel, Dark Sky, Weather Underground, and the local news outlets to confirm the forecast. Guy is known to be a rain walker. Some of us are not. But the occasionally reliable weather teams led us to believe the rain system would slide just north of our destination. We agreed. The hike was a go. As soon as we parked, it began to sprinkle. "Accu-forecast," our asses.
Guy, our intrepid trail master, must have been a Boy Scout, for he is always prepared. He lent extra rain ponchos he carries in the back of his SUV to unprepared Trailheads. Guy also had the foresight to bring garbage bags if we trekked across the creek. Fortunately, we didn't. And many of us wouldn't.
The trail was a natural beauty, with excellent calf-stretching elevations and superb views of waterfalls using gravity to their advantage. There were many well-worn paths to choose from, and we sampled a fine journey. Fio and Elvis enjoyed a spirited conversation on the inherent dastardly nature of squirrels (those dogs never shut up with their rodent trash talking). We humans enjoyed ourselves and vowed to return to this trail when Mother Nature's in bloom and enjoy another hike.
We had hiked ourselves into a famished state (the medical community would say we were pretty damn hungry). Brad manned his Yelp to check out the local barbecue scene. The highest-rated nearby joint was called The Ohio Hog Company in Tyrone, GA. Ohio barbecue in the deep south? How curious. We had to investigate. The game was afoot, and we raced to get there.
The Ohio Hog Company is in a Publix shopping center plaza. The restaurant is family-owned and operated by Gary and Vivian Williams, a barbecue cooking couple hailing from Cleveland, Ohio. The pitmasters say they learned their cooking chops from their families and are self-taught in slow wood-fired barbecue techniques. They have taught themselves well. The cooks claim their smoked meats are so tender you won't even need your teeth. While we may be a little long in the tooth, we still have ours, so we didn't test their claim.
Fellow Ohioan Patrick noticed their swine-theme pottery display case featured a couple of Cleveland Indians' baseballs. If being a Cleveland sports fan teaches one anything, it is patience. Biblical patience. And The Williams couple takes their time making some of the best barbecue the Trailheads have sampled in our travels.
Guy and George ordered the chicken, which they gushed about. The skin was perfectly crisp, and the meat tender, juicy, smokey. And as we all know, chickens don't just come that way. It takes careful attention and skill. The Williams couple nailed it.
Patrick and Brad ordered the smoked pork, and it was 'smack your mama good.' (NOTE: Please do not smack your mothers, what's wrong with you anyway? She should smack you. It's just an expression. Don't be so literal.)
The pork was fork-tender and infused with smoky flavor throughout, covered with a crust of delectable bark. We put this pulled pork up there with the very best––primetime swine. The homemade barbecue sauce has a sweet flavor at the front end with a vinegary punch that compliments the meat and titillates the taste buds.
Roy feasted on the beef brisket. This brisket is sliced thin and piled high instead of cut in thick planks. Each piece had the perfect amount of flavorful fat in every bite by thinly slicing it. While it's beef, it is a different animal in a tasty way from the other briskets we’ve enjoyed.
All the sides received raves. Guy gave his collard greens high marks, and the Brunswick Stew was simple (meat, corn, tomato) and simply delicious. The fried okra was golden brown and a slice of veggie heaven. The slaw was crunchy, and since cabbage is a green vegetable, you feel like you're eating healthy. The fries were fresh cut taters, cooked crisp, dusted with salt, and served with Heinz Ketchup packets. As we have detailed before in our barbecue reviews, Trailheads are suspicious of eating establishments cutting corners with alleged "fancy ketchup or catsup" that isn't Heinz.
DO NOT EVER SKIMP ON KETCHUP! IT'S HEINZ OR NOTHING. ENOUGH SAID.
Brad took some smoked meats home for dinner before the Hawks game. He declared his rib tips were winners, as were The Hawks beating the Phoenix Suns. Coincidence?
We all loved that The Ohio Hog Company cooks to order, and everything was brought to our table piping hot, fresh from the kitchen. Impressive. They also had a sign that said they cook to sell out. So get there early. Someone might come along and buy all this goodness right out from under you.
Who'd have thunk a couple from Cleveland, OH would make some of the best barbecues in the south? We can confirm it is true. Make tracks to Tyrone and check it out yourself. Tell them Trailheads sent you and watch the puzzled faces.
Rating: Four Ribs*
The Ohio Hog Company
1492 Highway 74 N. Suite 6D
Tyrone, GA. 30290
*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: we have acclaimed designers in our group, and they think the ribs graphic looks cool.
Who are we to argue? Enjoy.