450077 State Road 200
Generally, I’m not a “follow the crowd” kind of guy.
But that doesn’t mean I’ll completely disregard a 21st century concept such as “crowdsourcing.”
“Crowdsourcing” is one of those catch phrases that refers to the ability of large sample sizes to produce accurate opinions. That is the beauty of online restaurant review sites like Yelp.
From a purely statistical standpoint, it is completely legitimate. The fact is, if you sample a broad enough group of random people, you will, by definition, get an accurate read on that group’s opinion.
That’s the science behind “crowdsourcing”.
But the art is in determining whether or not the opinion of that particular group is worth anything.
That’s where I come in.
So, if you were to follow the online reviews, and the line of customers out the door, and the line of tail lights queued up at the takeout window of Callahan Barbecue, there would be no doubt that this is by far the most popular place to eat in this small Southern town near the Florida-Georgia state line.
But what does a crowd of good ol’ boys and gals dressed head-to-toe in camouflage, or in Florida Gators and Georgia Bulldog attire really know about world class barbecue and fried chicken?
Well, get in line with ‘em and find out.
And that’s exactly what I did.
Even though the clock had barely budged past 11am, Callahan Barbecue was packed. As my line inched closer to the cash register, I faced a dilemma.
Barbecue or chicken?
The sign out front says “Callahan Barbecue.” But right underneath it says, “The Chicken House.”
Well? Which is it?
Barbecue or chicken?
So of course, I chose both.
From the smoke pouring out of the chimney attached to the back of the shopping center, to the pink in my smoked pork, there was no doubt this was real smoked barbecue.
But a bit dull and dry.
Given four choices of tableside sauces, I chose the local favorite, a mustard-based sauce, which livened it up a bit.
But in the end, my sandwich was just dry chunks of pork on a bun.
Despite the name over the front door, clearly, the barbecue is not the reason for the 11am crowd.
Had I given this crowd a bit more credence, I would’ve known to skip the barbecue all together and stick to the fried chicken. Because that’s what everyone else was eating.
My respect for the opinion of this small-town crowd grew immediately after my first bite into my fried chicken leg.
Moist, tender, and as greasy as a Gator offensive lineman after a mid-August scrimmage, this was good fried chicken. Crunchy and modestly seasoned, my fried bird was really good. No doubt better than any other served in this rural county.
But is the fried chicken up there with the very best in America? No.
Forgive me, but I’m pretty sure most of this crowd hasn’t been to every classic fried chicken shack in America like I have.
And that is ultimately the problem with “crowdsourcing”.
The crowd can steer you away from places you don’t want to go or direct you to some real good fried chicken.
But sadly, the quality of the crowd’s opinion will always be limited by the quality of the crowd.
Rating: Would Wear a Free Shirt.