First Look: Boners BBQ
Phallic fun near Turner Field
The penis has burst out of hiding!
While the female anatomy has long enjoyed public display, the penis has remained tucked away, taboo to almost any discussion or representation outside erectile dysfunction ads. But Andrew Capron has changed that, sort of. His new barbecue joint, co-owned with Jayne Coffee, is named Boners BBQ (634 Fraser St., 404-659-9000). It's across from the gold parking lot at Turner Field, offering oral gratification to Braves fans and neighborhood residents.
I should say that while the restaurant's name is pretty explicitly phallic, the actual imagery in the restaurant is the usual target of boners: hot women. (The logo does allude to the penis with the image of a rocket ridden by a cowgirl — a reminder of the 1950s' not-so-subliminal advertising.) The restaurant's motto — "Put a little South in your mouth" — is an interesting suggestion, even though use of the word "little" does not insinuate the exceptional. (Check out Urban Dictionary for a definition of the phrase.)
But let me get to the meat of the matter. Boners' barbecue is titillatingly delicious. Yes, I know that everyone gets turned on by a different kind of 'cue, and I only offer my personal taste: After sampling all the meat on the menu, I consider Boners hard to beat.
My favorite, actually, has been the chicken wings, which seem to have a more piquant kick than the other meats. They call the bony little things "peckers." I also liked the baby back ribs, dry-rubbed and smoked out back of the restaurant, like the other meats. The ribs' outer coating, the rub that turns into so-called bark, was thick and surprisingly complicated in taste. Pulled pork was similarly seasoned and quite moist, even without the added lubrication of sauce. In fact, that's a hallmark of all the meat here: Sauces can actually detract from the complex, smoky flavor. Eat it bare. Go ahead and swallow.
If you just can't do it without sauce, there are three. One is a mustardy brew with peaches and ginger — too sweet for my taste. Then there's one, less sweet, made with grape juice called Purple Haze. Finally, there's one that gets down to business called Hot Coque, made with Asian vinegar. Big on flavor.
Sides include Asian jalapeño slaw, "420 baked beans" available with "smoked crack," which turns out to be the burnt ends of the smoked meats. In an interesting departure from the usual stewed collards, greens here are deep fried until crispy. If you like a salty explosion, you'll love these. There are also fries called "studs." Heh, it rhymes with "spuds."
Of course, I was curious about Capron's choice of his business name. "Most barbecue places are family oriented," he said. "I wanted to create something that frankly appeals to the subculture, by which I mean so-called freaks — the tattooed people, people who work late hours, those who rejoice in medical marijuana and so forth." (A "4/20 bash" was held on April 20.)
Capron operated a food truck with the same name for about a year and said he never got cock-blocked by a puritan. "The name's a joke," he explained, "but it's not without meaning. In the food business, the people who debone meats are called 'boners.' Also, I learned that 'boner' became slang for 'erection' because a boner looks like a rib bone."
"You know, a rib is hard and it kind of curls, right?"
Um, right. Gives a whole new meaning to the rib that became Eve in Eden.
Capron is a longtime entrepreneur best known for his now-closed clothing shop, Andrew, which Creative Loafing cited in its Best of Atlanta issue a couple years ago. He said that his personality "didn't fit" the fashion field and he decided to follow his inner boner because cooking barbecue at home had become something of an obsession. I asked him what made his different.
"Really, I use the same 20 ingredients as everyone else," he said. "I think it's about passion, as it is with anybody who cooks well. I think it comes right down the arms and through the hands to the food and reflects your personal passion." (I felt relieved that his anatomical locus of passion changed this once.)
The edgy quality that Capron brings to Boners is shared by his business partner, Coffee, who sports hot tattoos and owns the Midtown club Door 44. The ultra-chic decor of that club contrasts sharply to Boners' bare-bones but witty interior. The squat building is widely recognized for the gigantic blue-railed deck floating above it. It looks like a good place to get plastered but you'll have to bring your own bottle. There's a liquor store next door.
Prices are below average. All the meats are $6.99 for a generous serving and sides are $3 or $4. I spent less than $30 to buy nearly everything on the menu and it was way too much food for two of us. The restaurant is open during all Braves games and Wednesday-Sunday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m. The man at the counter, Freddie, gives great service, it appears.
After Boners and the Braves, you can stop by another newbie to drink — Cockpit in Grant Park. But more about that after I have a cigarette.