Dining & Drink: First bites at Thatcher’s BBQ & Grill in Calhoun and the Tap Room at Rome City Brewing Co.

Dining & Drink: First bites at Thatcher’s BBQ & Grill in Calhoun and the Tap Room at Rome City Brewing Co.

This photo of Thatcher’s BBQ at 1214 N. Wall St. in Calhoun (northside) is a misrepresentation. When we pulled in just before 7 p.m. Saturday, the lot was full. An hour later, it was almost as busy — save for a few rare spots upfront. Our review below explains why it is a popular spot and why the small, regional chain is growing. Hometown photo.

 

Thatcher’s BBQ worth the drive to Calhoun — and soon, Summerville: A quick trip to Calhoun gave us an excuse to check out a restaurant we first heard about last month as Thatcher’s BBQ & Grill  — a growing, regional barbecue spot — confirmed plans to open in early June in Summerville. We played it a little cautious — respective sandwiches and sides — as it was a new place. But that was enough to confirm why Thatcher’s is about to add a fifth location in Northwest Georgia (already in Trenton, Ringgold and Chichamauga ).

The Calhoun location is on the northside of town, off a mostly industrial section of U.S. 41. And while a phone map was guiding the way, the filled parking lot let us know we had found it — as have many others. We had no wait as the outside porch also was in use.

Inside, a big open room with tables for all sized crowds and a hyperactive wait staff.

Our order was kind of basic, again as we were more interested in sampling vs. a barbecue feast. The orders (found under “Smoke Signals” on the Calhoun menu):

Pork sandwich: “Slow hickory smoked, hand pulled and hand chopped.” This was the smaller of two options, $4.99 and jumbo at $5.99. You add your own restaurant-produced sauced with three tableside options. The side, for an addition $2.89, was a mammoth portion of potato salad worth every penny and almost too much to finish. Drink of choice: water.

Sliced beef brisket: We’re still a little new to the whole brisket experience and find it varies restaurant by restaurant. The jumbo sandwich was $6.79 and came with three meaty slices of one of the better briskets we’ve had. The side — a baked potato dressed and it wasn’t really wearing that much aside from butter and a comfortable dousing of sour cream. It was very large for a restaurant-served baked potato and worth the $2.79. Again, water to drink.

Total bill: $18.68 with tax but before tip (20 percent as Christian the waiter was excellent).

What we liked:

The food was worth the price and the drive. Great barbecue. The prices on the sides looked a little high but once the food arrived (and was consumed), they were justified.

Ambiance. While in Calhoun’s mostly industrial section, the local was nice and the restaurant was very clean and open. We bumped into some friends who regularly drive there from their home in Adairsville. They said a major improvement of late was increased ventilation; tt seems you used to leave Thatcher’s with a heavy barbecue smell (that’s a problem?)

Variety: The menu has plenty of options, including the popular covered baked potatoes and even a spin on tater tots and crinkle cut friends (see next First Bites).

Other: Desserts are available but no alcohol — which was fine. You probably wouldn’t have room for a few beers anyway.

Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Tuesday-Saturday.

Next: We’ll definitely go to the new one in Summerville (and will ask about any other growth in Northwest Georgia). Please see our previous story on that location.


A view of the Tap Room above the brewery at 333 Broad St., the latest from Rome City Brewing Co. Facebook

 

‘Pairing’ made easy — Rome City Brewing’s Downtown Brown craft beer with whatever comes with Downtown Brown sauce: The above photo should be of a plate of eight wings. Or the best tater tots we’ve ever eaten. Or of three tasty beef sliders. We forgot to get photos, probably because we were hungry.

Last weekend, Rome City Brewing Co. , with its needed permits in hand,  began serving a light menu in its Tap Room above the newly opened brewery. The opening weekend’s menu included

  • A slider trio (beef or chicken).
  • Loaded tater tots covered in beer cheese, Sriracha Slaw and Downtown Brown Sauce.
  • Taco Trio (beef or chicken) soft tacos, topped with shredded cheese, Sriracha Slaw and Downtown Brown Sauce.
  • Cheese bites with white Cheddar cheese chunks, breaded and fried, served with Sriracha Ranch dipping sauce.
  • Eight wings tossed in choice of Garlic Sriracha Sauce or Downtown Brown Sauce.

We covered 60 percent of the menu on Friday night, including several Short Hot Blonds and a Downtown Brown. Thank God we worked off a few calories climbing the steps from Broad Street to the Tap Room beforehand.

  • Let’s start with the wings: You do not need to leave Broad Street to find the best wings in Georgia. There’s the smoked wings at Moe’s Original Barbecue (OK, maybe a little off Broad); the garlic parmesan wings at Jefferson’s Rome; and now the Tap Room wings with the Downtown Brown sauce. Never has messy tasted so good. In fact, the next time we go, we might double up on the order. They’re that good.
  • Sliders: Nicely prepared miniburgers with chicken available as well, or you can mix-and-match.
  • Loaded tater tots: The beer cheese and Downtown Brown sauce raised these to a new level. An excellent combination and a plentiful serving. The coleslaw in the middle just added to it. You start on the edge of the plate with lightly covered tots, move into the cheese/sauce drenched after that;  and end with the slaw on top.

Prices range from $6.99 to $9.99 and you get plenty for a great meal while enjoying some hometown craft beer. We don’t know what the expanded menu will look like but they had us at the wings. Our total bill, including a tip (three beers, food, tip and tax) was around $40.

And as popular as Rome City Brewing’s craft beers have been, especially the growler sales, here’s a recommendation to get that Downtown Brown sauce in a minigrowler and on sale as well.

  • Hours: Opens at 5 p.m. Thursday and Friday; noon on Saturdays. Amenities include great window seats, a stylish game room, back rooftop patio.
  • Tours: 5 p.m. Saturdays; $10 per person and that includes a flight of craft beer samples (normally $8).
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