Thursday, November 19, 2009

DOA, I mean DBA Barbecue

I had been to DBA before and had no real desire to come back. The food and service was below average and their constant shilling on was taken to an entirely preposterous level. I was content that my assessment of them wasn't just an off night.

Not too long ago however, I got word of some new staff and smoking techniques being employed in the kitchen. Foodiebuddha essentially dispelled these new additions from being any sort of improvement in his review of DBA. So again, I had no desire to return. Then I received this somewhat shilly email the other day:

They asked to be featured.

I had to do a little promoting myself, right?

Not one thing has changed.

So, I went back with my BBQ brethren, Xerxes, and we re-tried DBA. It's important to remember DBA, if you're going to talk the talk, you have to walk the walk. And you didn't. Again.

Right off the bat our server and makeshift host was just... intense. He was very quick and jolty and even when ordering our drinks or telling us about the specials, it was slightly discomforting. Fortunately, he was training a new girl who took care of us for most of the remainder of our visit, but I was still a little off-put from "Cokey McCokerson."

Cokey immediately told us they had an appetizer special, fried jalapeños, and that they were only a dollar, so we ordered them. These were OK. The batter was pretty tasty, but eventually the spice started to get to us when we had downed about 75% of the order. We didn't finish these.

For the main, I ordered a two meat plate ($15) with pulled pork, brisket, the grilled cream corn, and fried corn (I know, two corn sides... but how often can you get fried corn on the cob). Xerxes went the two meat route also and got baby backs (an extra $2), pulled pork, onion rings, and fried corn.

DOA. Our plates were Dead. On. Arrival. The plates were lacking (tons of empty space) and the portions were meager. In addition to the lack of food, my brisket was more like briquette. Seriously it looked just like briket. It was black and solid as a rock. With enough force, you could actually chip the plate with this "meat."

My plate - They could have put two more helpings of meat on here and it still wouldn't have been full.

The meat:
The pulled pork wasn't dry like my first visit, but it was mushy. Overcooked and not nearly smokey or seasoned enough. The briquette, I mean brisket, was pathetic. I had a tough time cutting through it with a knife and the entire thing literally crunched in my mouth. And not potato chip crunch. I'm talking gravel. Frankly if I were the server, I would have taken it back upon seeing it. Xerxes said the ribs (4 bones) showed some improvement but he was hardly blown away by them. Also, like our first visit, none of the meat came out even warm. Seriously, is that too much to ask for?

My hockey puck of briquette.

The sauces:
Table-side are 3 sauces: Sweet, Hot, and Mustard. The Sweet and Hot taste exactly the same and are of a pretty watery consistency. They rely heavily on Carolina vinegary flavor, but just don't quite achieve any sort of great BBQ taste. The mustard sauce is pretty good if you like that sort of thing but in the end, just tastes like some high quality mustard.

The sides:
While I'm afraid DBA cannot be saved, the sides truly are their saving grace . On my first visit, I had some of the best sweet potato fries I'd ever had. This time I really enjoyed both of my sides again. The creamed corn isn't creamed, but features charred corn kernels mixed with some sort of sweet cream sauce. It was darned good, but served luke warm. The fried corn is just battered and fried so you can't really screw that up, but it's only half a cob. Corn costs next to nothing. Why can't you guys serve the whole cob?! Xerxes onion rings were on point too - some of the better ones I've had anywhere.

Xerxes' plate and regal O-rings.

Seriously DBA, spend some more time on perfecting your food, and less time on your PR marketing machine. Shilling reviews as much as you have really loses you credibility among many of the influencing members of the market you're trying to pull. Emailing different blogs and Yelp members is OK but you gotta have something to back up your (false) claims of awesomeness.

D.B.A. Barbecue on Urbanspoon


  1. Here are the problems with your review:

    Disrespecting the server for being attentive. Calling him rotten, slanderous names? Not a very professional way to review the service.

    Criticising the jalepeno appetizer for being too.....SPICY? Are you a retard?

    Not giving the ribs a detailed description because they were improved? Is it your "style" to only write nasty reviews?

    Saying the sauces were the same? That the the meat was gravel, that corn cost next to nothing? That a business should do less PR. These are lazy, stupid comments. They indicate a lack of experience and an immature palette.

    Do this community a favor and stick to fiction writing.

  2. There's a difference between attentive, and overly attentive and annoying. Read restaurant reviews, my "experienced friend" and you will see that this is a common problem in the restaurant industry. In fact if you caught the NYT article about restaurant service by Bruce Buschel (entitled "100 Things Restaurant Staffers Should Do") you'd see many examples of this being a problem. Sorry, I did my homework.

    I didn't say the Jalepeno appetizer was bad. In fact I applaud it for being only $1. I said the batter was good, it just got boringly spicy after a while.

    If you read my review carefully before jumping the gun with your comment, you would have also noticed that I didn't order ribs, my friend Xerxes did. I didn't eat them, yet I gave DBA props on them. He said they were an improvement from the last time we got them, when they totally sucked. Good job!

    This blog is about reporting my experience and opinion. My experience and opinion is that those two sauces tasted the same and were runny. Corn is cheap. DBA charges 3 or 4 bucks for half a cob. An entire cob is about 60 cents at the farmers market and they're buying theirs at a less expensive (and lesser quality) restaurant-food outlet. The brisket was the most ridiculous piece of food I've ever seen served on a plate. It should have never left the kitchen and was inedible.

    I also said focus less on PR. It's obviously important to promote one's business but not to the point of ridiculousness (kind of like the waiter being too attentive.) The proof is in the pudding, which DBA showed no proof of. Read my other reviews, particularly the one immediately following DBA of Community Q. I critique every item I try and their brunswick stew was a failure. However all of their other items were good to excellent. They didn't skimp either. See how it works?


    SHITTY FOOD + OK/BAD SERVICE = SHITTY REVIEW especially after getting an email to come in and try new and improved that's not.

    By the way, using the term "retard" in the way you did, is actually offensive. Way to stay professional in a comment about being professional.

    I would argue that DBA's food, service, and PR machine, show "a lack of experience and an immature palette." Please reread my reviews and I think you'll realize your comment was waaaaay out of line.

  3. Dear Jimmyendicott-
    I gotta say, your comment smacks of someone involved with the offending restaurant. You seemed to take this review a little personally.

    Here are the issues with your comment-

    An overly pushy/aggressive server is off putting, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with pointing that out in a review. It isn’t very professional for a server to be overbearing, and any good professional restaurant critic would agree. Granted, the "cokey" jab may have been over the line, but it was funny and humor makes food blogs more interesting to read.

    You imply that it is TFA's "style" to only write nasty reviews, yet the majority of his reviews are quite positive. And you also completely ignore the fact that he loved all of his sides.

    Even if he had eaten the ribs himself, when something goes from "shitty" to "mediocre", it still isn't interesting to read OR write about. There are only so many ways to say "eh, it was passable" or "it was just ok".

    There is nothing "lazy" or "stupid" for critiquing a restaurant for:

    1 - Serving the same sauce with different labels on it. Either they were being cheap, can't make a good BBQ sauce, or someone screwed up when filling the bottles. None of those are acceptable.

    2 - Using "gravel" as the adjective of choice to describe meat with a rock-like texture and taste. If it walks like a duck, and talks like a duck….

    3- Commenting on a restaurant's PR priorities when the entire reason for his visit was because he was hunted down by a PR rep only to be fed a wildly disappointing meal.

    4 - Taking issue with a restaurant overcharging for a cheap and uncomplicated (though tasty) side dish. A 500% markup on a piece of corn is a little much, don't you think?

    The reason it is not lazy or stupid for a reviewer to point out these things is because it is lazy and stupid for the restaurant to DO THEM IN THE FIRST PLACE!

  4. Hm. Where to begin. First of all, thanks to TFA for what strikes me as an honest review. As a fellow food blogger, I know that it's not easy to write a critical post about a restaurant. We WANT the restaurants we visit to be good. As food people, we're passionate about food - so much so, that we take the time to write about our experiences with it, bore our friends with it and knowingly look like dorks taking pictures of our food. We honestly have no interest in panning restaurants (unlike "yelpers" - there I said it).

    But just as a restaurant’s credibility stems from its quality of service and food – ours comes from honestly relaying our experiences. Sometimes, when we have a bad experience we’ll keep our mouth shut, but when we do speak/write about it, it’s rarely with the intent of hurting the restaurant – it’s more of an open letter, saying “Hey – we found some problems. Get your act together”.

    Is this the best way? Maybe, maybe not. “Why don’t you just complain to the manager?” Because we don’t necessarily want our meal comped, or the server fired – and that’s usually what happens if you go bitching to the manager. Free meals and pissing on d-bag servers may be fun for some (read: “yelpers”), but it’s not what we’re in this for, and it sure as hell doesn’t lend us any credibility.

    But back to the point at hand. DBA has done themselves no favors. “Sarah Parker”. Seriously guys - is this how you want your restaurant to be perceived? She must be kewl, she gets the pun in TFA’s blog title – I feel like I can relate to her. Oh, she used to work at CBS Atlanta – she must be credible (of course she doesn’t say what she did there….). If she says the guys are great and down to earth, you better believe it! (And you know what – they probably are good guys and down to earth – but that doesn’t guarantee that their food, presentation, quality and service won’t suck.) And I’m sorry, but TFA posted photos of his plate - $15!!!!!!!!!! Are you fucking kidding me? I’m from a barbecue family (doing barbecue well is hard), and that shit don’t fly. No offense, Dude (HA! I’m clever too!), but I hope they at least helped you pull up your pants after violating you with that…

    Jimmy Endicott. The DBA guys are probably friends of yours, and that’s cool. Maybe you work there, who knows - who cares? Good for you wanting to cover your friends backs, but get this. This is TFA’s blog and he’s made it clear (read his “About Me”) that he wants to share his experiences – good, bad or indifferent. He had a bad experience (two bad experiences). Deal with it. He’s not trying to get anything out of the DBA guys other than a good meal. He paid (dearly) for it twice and got burned twice. Don’t damn him for the bad experience DBA provided – he gave them a second chance – is out at least $30 bucks for doing so…. If you want to help DBA, point them to this blog post and tell them to read it, think about it and see if they can figure out where they missed the mark with this customer.

  5. Sorry guys, once he slandered the server he struck out. If you want to babble on about how wonderful the review is feel free....but get this: Making character attacks is not the same as reviewing. He could have made is point in a professional way but he didn't. And given that he started his review by insulting the server it is obvious that that was his intention for the entire piece. You're letting him get away with it because you thought it was funny. But it was out of line. Waaaaay out of line.

  6. I did start my review that way, but I didn't start my dining experience that way. I went in with an open mind and was invited, by the restaurant to do this. The review starts out negative and ends negatively because my experience was terrible. From the service to the food. Just like my review flows. It's not like I wasn't fair. If name calling is a problem grow up, most people get over that in grade-school.

    The experience was bad and resulted in a bad review. Re-read the comments above, they all have much more valid points than all of your... none.

  7. Also, I'd like to point out that it makes perfect sense to begin a review with a comment on the service. That is the chronological flow of the meal....the first thing that happens when you arrive is that you get seated and introduced to the waiter. If the service is bad, then it makes sense that the review would start with that.

  8. Commenting on the service as slow,poor,overbearing,bad one thing but name calling is unproffessional and over stepping boundries!Calling your server Cokey McCokerson and then referring to him again as Cokey is rude and uncall for! YOU are the one that should grow up!Im sure you had a guest check most have names on them if you wanted to call him out you should have used it!

  9. Again, humor is the method employed. I'm pretty sure a bad server wouldn't want his name brought up and face the risk of losing his job. Call me Cokey any day over my actual name when I put out poor work!

  10. Wow, Jimmy - what's the deal? Nobody's letting TFA get away with anything because they thought it was "funny" - candidly, I don't get the "Cokey" reference, and I haven't bothered to Google it. So what. He didn't like the hopped-up service and and he said he was "a little put-off" by it. He didn't call him a douchebag or fucktard or anything, and so what if he did? (Personally, I think it would have been "unprofessional" to use the server's real name. Now THAT would be slander - unless TFA's comments and experiences are...true?)

    Man up and take the punch and get a leash on your boy Cokey, or whatever his name is and if there are valid issues in TFA's review, get your act together (maybe his timing was just bad and he was unlucky - but I doubt that).

    Look, TFA is not going to be your customer anymore, so he's most likely not going to write about you ever again. If you're so tweaked about the review, quit commenting and keeping the post alive. What you don't seem to understand is that a lot of people will visit your restaurant just to see if their experience is the same as TFA's. The more you jabber on about how anyone that doesn't like your restaurant is a jerk, the more that will NOT happen. I had actually considered it up 'til the point you chimed in with your pissy comments. Before, I figured if I went and had a bad experience, shame on me - now I expect to be called to the mat if I don't like your food (or god forbid, your waiters).

  11. A BBQ joint with a PR firm? It must be an Atlanta thang.

    DBA is a newcomer in the BBQ scene and wants to be the one of the best right out of the gate. They need to remember that Rome was'nt built in a day and BBQ joints in the south should not get any credit or respect until they have been consistently putting out quality Q for at least 5 years.

    Just the fact that they started out with an electric smoker seemed really strange to me. Hell, I can't afford to jump into the BBQ restaurant business but if I did have money to flush down a toilet, I would buy a boat and forget about the BBQ business, but if I did decide to share my BBQ secrets with the wider world, I would only use natural lump charcoal and straight seasoned hickory, I would get up every morning at 4am and cook that meat at 220, watch that meat get smoked right, right from the start.

    Let me suggest that they check out a book called Real Barbecue by Greg Johnson & Vince Staten for them to read. Many of the joints mentioned in there are still around. There is a reason for that.

    There still may be time to turn the bad juju around but just remember that it needs to be more about the meat and less about the speak.

  12. Dead on Je Kemp, except for that nonsense about hickory - oak, mesquite, fruit wood yes, but hickory? What, want to fight about it? I'll let you off because that boat/restaurant analogy was funny (I think jimmyendicott said that's what we all do).

  13. Just saw this post. I think they've come a long way since this review. I know they've switched smokers (now using a Southern Pride 1000 I believe) and tried other things to make sure their BBQ is more consistent. Blogs are a funny thing...if you don't agree with them or they're offensive, don't read them anymore.

  14. Very impressive post.