Jim and Nick's is the place that inspired this blog. High praise, huh? Not hardly. I was inspired because I thought the place was fake. Now, I had been to Jim and Nick's a few times before this emotion took hold. I had always thought their fare was ok. Not spectacular, not bad, merely ok. I was not a fan of going there, because this merely ok barbecue is damned expensive. More on that later. But what ignited my distaste was this: One day, I saw their takeout menu. On this takeout menu, at first glance, is a picture of presumably an old Jim and Nick's barbecue shack. By old, I mean it looks like it was taken in 1947. But if you look at it closer, it's obvious that the Jim and Nick's signs on the building are photoshopped on. Look closer, and you see that the building isn't even an eatery, it's a gas station, for crying out loud! (You can see this photo on the homepage of their website. While you're there, check out "our story" on the left side. Surprise, surprise, there isn't one. It's a mission statement.)
Truth be told, a lot of why I dislike J&N has to do with their theme park atmosphere. It's like the Hard Rock Cafe of BBQ. They have these old timey looking pics on the wall of people cooking barbecue. A real barbecue place would have a pic of the cook of your restaurant on the wall, probably with his arm around somebody famous who had the good fortune of stopping at his restaurant. You would know it was the cook, because you could look in the kitchen and see him, probably a little grayer in the temples, still on the job! To cut to the chase, You could plop J&N right down in the center of Buckhead, and it'd fit in perfect. If you like your barbecue culture served up at arms length, sanitized and safe, by all means go ahead. Me, give me something with a little grease on it's shirt.
Ok, on to the food. my greatest complaint about their food isn't that it's not good. It is. It's average good. On a realistic scale of 1 to 10 (not the modern day scale where things have to be an 8 or it's crap), it's a 5. Completely average. What gets me all riled up is the price: $8.50 for a sandwich and a (small side). Hey, a theme park doesn't run on good intentions, does it? The total tab today for myself and the Lovely Lady La La was $25! (a word of disclosure here: We didn't actually pay anything today. One of my bosses was at another table, and he told the manager I had a BBQ blog going on, and she came over and insisted the meal was on the house. I tried to talk her out of it, but even though I told her it probably wasn't going to be a favorable review, she insisted on it being free. I guess it proves you can't buy my vote. Oh yeah, another disclosure: the ticket said $6.99 for the sandwich. I don't know if that's a lunch price, or because I turned down the side order in favor of a full stew bowl. Should barbecue be this complicated? How about one price, all day?)
First up was the stew, which truth be told, was better than I remember it. It's still not gonna win any awards, though. It was pretty watery, but that's about the worst thing I can say about it. Not a big fan of beans in stew, but these were unobtrusive. At least it didn't go too far one way or another. Lady La La may have a different opinion. I think we may hear from her soon... My grade: C+
Here's the pulled pork sandwich. That's a quarter laying in the plate, for size reference, although I have to say it looks bigger in the pic than it was in real life. I prefer the meat a bit more shredded, but that's just me. Again, It's not bad, it's not extraordinary. I can't tell you much about the sauce, because it just didn't have much personality.Just average.
As a side note, I have to say these are the most pitiful pickles I've yet to see on a barbecue sandwich. Poor little fellows...
Well, there you have it. Damned by mediocrity, cursed by high prices. If money is no object, you could do worse. If price and authenticity is a factor, you can do much better.
Overall grade: C