Food & DrinkGrub Notes

Grub Notes

BBQ Beat: After the last column’s report on what’s up with Butt Hutt, I’m sure some of you drove past its old spot on Baxter, next to Jimbo’s, and saw the sign for Runt’s BBQ (699 Baxter St.), which now occupies the itty-bitty space. Word is that Runt’s has some ownership in common with Butt Hutt, and the menu is very similar, with a lot of options for sides: both vinegar- and mayo-based slaw, chicken mull, meat skins and the like.

You will, however, notice a difference, especially if you go to both places within a couple of weeks. The pork at Runt’s, for example, is chopped, rather than pulled, and it doesn’t have the same flavor as that at Butt Hutt, even though it’s fine and makes a good sandwich. The ribs will make you feel like Fred Flintstone and inspire jokes about Chris Rock’s character in I’m Gonna Git You Sucka (i.e., he’d be satisfied with only one). Their texture is good, their color nice (with plenty of pink to show the smoke), but they still don’t live up to their predecessor’s. That’s kind of how it goes throughout, but Butt Hutt is a lot to live up to. Compared to many another cue joint in and around town, Runt’s would come out ahead.

The chicken, available as breast or “hot legg,†is pretty tasty stuff, and I might recommend you order it, which I usually don’t when there is pork to be found. Brisket is promised for the near future. The corn nuggets are great. The mull is the thickest and smoothest I have found, more of a cream than the usual somewhat chunky chicken soup. The stew isn’t so hot, with a funky taste at the end that smacks of artificial flavoring. The baked beans, though, get two thumbs up, incorporating limas and plenty of meat.

The dudes who run the place are exceedingly friendly and enthusiastic in particular about their “sweet-hot†sauce. I usually prefer a simple vinegar-based condiment, but they’re right that it’s out of the ordinary and it’s not too sweet. One reason you should definitely go by Runt’s, even if you’re picky about BBQ or a vegetarian, is its strawberry lemonade, highlighted on the menu as “made special.†Indeed it is, with a real strawberry purée, complete with chunks of fruit, supplying the flavor. Runt’s doesn’t do breakfast, but it keeps late hours for a BBQ place, being open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday. It takes credit cards, does take-out and is available for delivery through Bulldawg Food.

Brunch: White Tiger Gourmet (217 Hiawassee Ave.) has been branching out a lot over the past few years—adding regular dinner hours, playing around with pies, etc.—so its recent addition of Sunday brunch, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. isn’t surprising, but it sure is nice. For $12 (which includes tax and a drink), you get all you can eat off a table piled high with different options: bacon, sausage patties, little fritters of egg and peas that seem vaguely Indian, peppery grits, biscuits, not-too-sweet French toast made with good bread, fruit salad, a plate of cookies you may want to screen from your kids, Spanish tortilla that could use a bit more salt but with loads of veggies, nice little pancakes and possibly more I have forgotten. It is a serious spread. Whether it’s worth the $12 probably depends on how much you can eat, but it certainly could be. Coffee and orange juice are on the counter and bringing your own champagne for mimosas recommended, although it’ll still require planning ahead until Sunday sales get a vote in Athens. You don’t, however, have to remember to get cash out. The rumored taking of credit cards is reality, as the girl at the register will swipe your card through the attachment on her phone and email you a receipt—very 21st century.

What Up?: Graze Burgers & Salads on Prince and La Fiesta on Hawthorne have closed. Skogies, a seafood place out of Gainesville, has opened a branch on Baxter Street, where the second location of Big Easy Café was until recently, next to Domino’s… Hubee D’s, a chicken-tender-oriented franchise out of Charleston, is indeed coming to where the Marble Slab was on Lumpkin. Tim Peacock tells us that “there is a Striplings General Store going up at the intersection of U.S. 78 and GA 53. They are rumored to have excellent sausages, hams, hoop cheese, etc.†The store isn’t scheduled to open until the fall, and its motto is “You never sausage a place.  Copper Creek Brewing Company in downtown Athens recently added lunch with all entrees costing $8, Monday through Saturday, from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., including a “liquid lunch,†which is not entirely beer but does include a pint… Square One Fish Co. is also doing lunch Thursday–Sunday, from 11 a.m, and Amici has a new $8 lunch menu… Dickey’s Barbecue Pit, the franchise with a location out in Watkinsville, is going into what was Allen’s on Hawthorne… Something called The Branded Butcher, rumored to be a farm-to-table restaurant with an emphasis on meat, should be going into what was Flight, on Lumpkin Street downtown, next to the Georgia Theatre. Ike & Jane is now open downtown, as is Sip Espresso Cafe in Normaltown.