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Barbecue and soy sauce at Abdullah the Butcher's

Abdullah the Butcher lives. That's right, the former pro-wrestler known for beating people with chairs, barbed wire, brass knuckles and other blunt objects lives in Atlanta. Abdullah's "Madman from the Sudan" days are long gone -- and like many former "athletes," he has his own restaurant, Abdullah the Butcher House of Ribs & Chinese Food. Abdullah (aka Larry Shreve) is now serving up a gimmick that doesn't involve blood and bruises: a unique combination of barbecue and teriyaki.

SIGHTSEEING: Just west of I-285, the restaurant looks like something between a ranch house and a fast-food joint. For fans expecting souvenirs and memorabilia from wrestling's yesteryear, good luck. While there are some framed pictures of Abdullah in various bloodthirsty poses, and two heavyweight belts hang in a separate dining area, the restaurant is dominated by rickety tabletops and a steam bar. The best attraction is Shreve, who is usually present -- and pleasant. He kindly thanks people for coming and eating, hanging out in the dining area smiling and answering questions in his sweet voice.

SEEING DOUBLE: Abdullah's culinary split personality is represented by two registers for orders -- an African-American woman at one, and an Asian woman at the other. If it's busy, line integrity disintegrates and either cashier will take your order. But the duality is strangely disturbing.

SWEETY 'CUE: Barbecue selections are kept simple: Ribs, rib tips and chicken. The ribs are smoked in a small building next to the main structure. Thankfully, the rib meat is soft, pink and tender. But it comes drenched in a smotheringly sweet, tomato-based sauce that tastes uncomfortably store-bought and lacks any hint of authenticity. And while the rib tips are a little easier to handle than the ribs since a fork is employed, forget trying to keep clean with the quartered chicken. Sides included a moist, cheesy mac and cheese and some kick-ass collards. The collards were not too mushy and served nearly whole, with red peppers thrown in for flavor. A splash of peppered vinegar, and you're in business.

CHINESE QUEUE: I wasn't at all tempted by the thought of Chinese food at a rib shack. Finally, though, I bit the bullet and ordered a serving of "Abdullah's Favorite" (6.99) from a list that includes standards like kung pao chicken and lo mein. The mix of miniature shrimp, beef strips, green peppers, baby corn, carrots and mushrooms was sauteed in a sweet sauce and served with a side of fried rice. The Styrofoam container in which all meals are served was weighed down with the stuff (yes, we even took turns feeling how heavy it was). But honestly, it's generic Chinese for the masses -- and like Abdullah himself, it's not half as scary as you might suspect.


jerry.portwood@creativeloafing.com

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