Taste – January/February 2020
By Griffin Nelson | Photos By Sara Wise
It is my absolute favorite thing to discover something new and different in the world of food and drink. So when I stumbled across Figment, I knew I had to stop in and give it a try. The first kombucha bar in the city (and one of the first in the whole state), Figment is quickly working its way into the hearts of Athenians. Since it opened the doors to its taproom in May, it has hosted a pop-up dinner, done collaborations with Creature Comforts and Old Pal, become a regular at the Athens Farmers Market, and been featured on The Zero Proof’s city guide to non-alcoholic lifestyle in the city. It’s in the process of working on a list of cocktails and mocktails to use in partnership with other businesses around the city, but the way I love it best, personally, is straight out of the tap.
With an emphasis on high-quality ingredients, preferably as many local ones as possible, each recipe is unique and most are only available during certain seasons, allowing for creativity within the brewing process. And yes, despite the fact that it’s non-alcoholic, “brewing” is essentially what is happening during the creation of kombucha. Business partners Jason Dean and Erika Galloway met while working at 5 Points Growlers taproom and brewery supply store. Several years ago Dean had taken on the responsibility of making the kombucha that the shop had on tap, assuming the responsibility with the caveat that he would be allowed to dream up whatever flavors he wanted. Dean got so good at it that last year he and Galloway decided to take kombucha to the next level and opened Figment this past spring. With a base of high-quality tea and scoby to make great kombucha, they’ve created flavors like Blueberry Lavender, a summer favorite; Rosé Cranberry Pomegranate, a fall favorite; and Ginger Apple Spice, winter favorite.
For those who have never tried kombucha, think of it as a lightly fizzy, lightly fruity and herbal soda. In short: Kombucha is fermented tea. Its all-natural and short list of ingredients that come from the earth not only are good for the body, but taste amazing. The rotating list of flavors are available in the taproom at 1085 Baxter, where customers can do a tasting and purchase a growler of their favorite. They can also be found on tap at the Daily Grocery Co-op, 1000 Faces and several other places around town.
On Highway 78, between Athens and Lexington at the intersection with the one light in the small town of Crawford, stands an early 20th century industrial building, formerly a Ford and then a Chevy dealership, with new paint and a giant sign that reads: G Brand BBQ. Having driven by it several times but never with the opportunity to stop, I finally set a date and made the short trip to give it a try.
I had no idea what I’d been missing! G Brand BBQ is easily the best barbecue I’ve had this side of the Mississippi River. Despite having been open for just a year and a half, people are already flocking from as far away as Columbia to try the fall-off-the-bone ribs, smoked brisket and house-made sauces. Everything down to the the mac-and-cheese, stew and other Southern barbecue staples are a cut above the rest.
Fred and Anne Gretsch have spent years working with animals. With a background in production agriculture, working in both the industry and ranching side of things, they wanted to try something different. Having spent their entire lives cooking their own barbecue, even having it at their wedding over 30 years ago, and having that foundational appreciation for the importance of quality meat for restauranteurs, they knew they had a good shot at having a successful restaurant.
Their above-standard barbecue, comfortable atmosphere (featuring University of Georgia vibes, the original shop’s Chevy sign, and their family’s acclaimed business in the guitar and drum industry), and family friendly environment have made them a fast favorite with people far and wide. “If you start well it will end well,” Fred tells me as he explains the importance of having superior cuts for everything, from the pulled pork to the chicken to the stew.
It doesn’t stop with the meat, though. The sides include classic green beans, coleslaw and that macaroni and cheese I refuse to stop raving about. His wife gets credit for the creation of almost all of their sauces, which they now sell by the jar and gallon because customers love it so much. The rotating list of desserts includes quintessential Southern staples like banana pudding and peach cobbler; and of course there’s always ice cream.
They’re open 10 a.m.- 9 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and located at 1140 Athens Road, Crawford, GA 30630, perfect for a short weekend drive to take the family out for the best barbecue you’ve ever had.