Restaurant Review - Brother Jimmy's BBQ
Today I went to Brother Jimmy's BBQ for lunch. Brother Jimmy's is one of the older BBQ joints in Manhattan and it has grown to 3 or 4 locations in the city. It started as a dump downtown but it was pretty good. The one I visited today was at 428 Amsterdam Ave, between 80th & 81st Streets.
When I first discovered Brother Jimmy's back in the late 80's, the only competion for BBQ in the city was Dallas Barbeque and Tennesse Mountain. At that time, Brother Jimmy's easily smoked the competetion. Virgil's came later and Brother Jimmy's lost its crown.
This Brother Jimmy's has only recently opened for lunch, and I don't think the word is out yet because there were only 4 other people in the restaurant at 1:00pm for Friday lunch. Walking in, I felt more that I was in a "good ole boy" themed bar than in BBQ joint. There was pre 80's country music playing. "you fill up my senses" It feels like you've stepped into a hollywood set of a southern frat house. The waitresses at this restaurant are HOT. They are dressed in tight T-shirts that are ripped in all the right places. They can make you forget the food.
So let's talk about the food. Is it any good? Is it real BBQ? Brother Jimmy's claims in their take-out menu that "All of our BBQ is smoked over hickory wood for 5 - 14 hours." On their website it says, "All of our BBQ is smoked over hickory wood for 3 - 9 hours." I wonder which one is right. Do they cook only in a BBQ pit? I wonder. 3 to 9 hours isn't enough time to cook a brisket properly for BBQ.
Brother Jimmy's views itself as a Carolina style BBQ restaurant. They offer BBQ with 3 different sauces. Western North Carolina - tomato based, Eastern North Carolina - vinegar based and South Carolina, mustard based. A bottle of each is left on the table so you can try all of them. Out of the three my favorite was the South Carolina sauce. But, none of them are impressive. I wouldn't go back for the sauce.
The menu is pretty typical for a BBQ place, ribs, chicken, pulled pork and brisket. Brother Jimmy's does not serve baby back ribs, only St. Louis style. Ribs are $17.95, sandwiches run from $7.50 to 8.50. They have a BBQ sampler platter (choose any 4 BBQ items) for $21.50. Today, they had a "lunch special" for $9.95. It was 3 ribs, 2 sides and choice of salad or chili. It sounds like a good bang for the buck, but they need to come up with a discounted lunch menu.
I wasn't that hungry and money was tight so I looked at the sandwiches. The menu offered a North Carolina and a South Carolina pulled pork sandwich. I asked the waitress to explain what the differnces and she told me that they were both spicy, only the NC used vinegar and the SC used mustard. She could have told me anything, I was too busy investigating her t-shirt. (Shit, I'm becoming a dirty old man.)
The sandwich came on a kaiser roll with home made french fries and pickle chips. The roll was open and the pulled pork looked pretty good. Most of the pieces were shreds from the inside of the pork, but there was evidence of a bark. The bark is the dark smokey outter layer of the pork butt which was exposed to the heat and smoke of the fire. The pork was served without any sauce. This surprised me. I expected that there would be a mustard sauce as promised. On my table, there was only the vinegar sauce and the tomato sauce. I put some of the vinegar sauce on the meat and began to eat. A bus boy came over with a bottle of the mustard sauce after about 10 minutes. I added some of that to the sandwich too. This sandwich needed help. The pulled pork was both dry and mushy, which translates into overcooked meat. The roll was just this side of being stale. The french fries were very good, but very salty.
Will I go back? Yeah. Overall, the food was OK.. nowhere near the nirvana of well done BBQ, but not as bad as some of the other places in the city. I will be back to try the ribs and brisket. Maybe they're better.
Brother Jimmy's is a great place to go with a bunch of guys, get drunk, eat some food and oggle the waitresses.