Monday, April 19, 2010

Jim Dandy's Family BBQ: Sharonville, OH

I was recently on a business trip to Cincinnati, but even my business associates know that any trip is a quest for more Q! They recommended we try a new place just north of town called Jim Dandy's.

The smoker they use to cook the meat is right out front, so you know it's done using real hickory wood. The smoke permeates the front porch area and the inside, and there is an open, airy feel to the place.

Unfortunately, I couldn't focus as much on the food because I actually did have to talk some business. But was was able to take a quick snapshot of my meal, which was the pulled pork sandwich place with sides of beans and greens.

When ordering, it's more of a cafeteria style, where they put the stuff right on your plate as you order in line.

The pulled pork was good, and had a good amount of smoke to it. I would have liked to have tried the ribs, and I suspect I will be back to try them at some point. The sauces were red based sauces, and the hot one was really hot, and I liked it. The sides were OK. The beans were the best side. The greens already had vinegar added to them, when I did NOT like. I didn't care for the flavor. The tea was decent, and the cornbread was OK, but there was no "wow" factor going on for anything.

Considering there are few good BBQ places in Cincinnati, and the most famous one (Montgomery Inn) doesn't even count, this is fairly good for that area. I still prefer City Barbecue, but this place has promise. Overall score is a 6.5, dinged mainly for the sides. I'll retry the ribs later and up the score if it's worth it.

You can check them out at

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Blue Moon BBQ: Hendersonville, TN

It's been a fairly regular tradition to to go to Hendersonville on Sunday after church to get some "All you can eat" fried chicken at Uncle Bud's Catfish, Chicken, and Such restaurant for $6.99, so I was really disappointed to hear that they closed it down. A few weeks later, I drove past it and saw a new sign up for a new BBQ place. That is about the only thing I can think of to replace Uncle Bud's. Needless to say, this place has been on my list to visit since the day it opened.

I finally got a good excuse to get up that way and decided to check it out. The store manager was extremely friendly and gave a mini-tour of the smokers they use. Check them out:

Blue moon has a great BBQ atmosphere. They changed the fishing motif for Uncle Bud's and I think they really stepped it up a notch with the memorabilia:

We stepped up to order. Since we always like to get a platter with a little of everything to sample as much as possible, we got the "Jay Boy" which has everything except chicken - for $20. Great price. We added a 1/2 chicken as well. I figured that would keep me from starving for at least an hour.

They do not use MSG in any of their seasoning. They cannot control the MSG in the sausage, but everything else is MSG-free, and this was a real relief. It was also refreshing that they understood what it was and why it's not a good thing.

The picture directly below is where you go to get your drinks after ordering. They have a variety of hot sauces, including the very hot El Yucatero - which goes very well with BBQ. They plan to have an even wider selection in the new future I am told. The sweet tea was excellent, and a good first sign that there is good stuff on the way. I have said it before, but it bears repeating. If the BBQ place pays attention to the tea and the "little" things, the food will usually be good.

With our plate, we got the beans and slaw as usual. The slaw was sort of a half way between mayo and vinegar based. It was OK, but I think it needs to go one way or the other. The beans were a little pasty, but you could tell they had been cooked (they were not directly poured out of a can and re-heated). They had meat cooked into them, which gave them a good flavor.

The meat was excellent. Their brisket is the best I have had in the Nashville area lately. Blue Moon is very comparable to Martin's BBQ Joint in Nolensville in presentation and the food served when it comes to the platters. However, I can say that overall Blue Moon has Martin's beat. The portions are a little bigger, and the meat is a little tastier. In fact, we enjoyed eating the meat without any sauce at first. At Martins, the chicken seems more like rotisserie, and at Blue Moon you can tell it has been in a smoker. The pulled pork has more smoke as well. I think this is because they use only hickory at Blue Moon and it makes a difference.

The ribs are also comparable to Martin's, but I think Blue Moon has them beat on taste. Although the pulled pork and chicken were also good, I think the brisket and ribs are the stars of the show. I plan to come back for a brisket sandwich soon.

The sauces at Blue Moon are a regular tomato based, a sweet and spicy, and a mustard based sauce. We did not care for the mustard at all. All of the sauces are a bit too sweet for my taste. This tends to overtake the taste of the meat if you use too much, especially when the ribs have such a great flavor on their own. My favorite was to combine the sweet and spicy with some El Yucatero and Louisiana hot sauces and it tasted awesome. I would highly recommend that they keep playing around with the sauce recipe's and tweaking them a little bit more. Perhaps check out the sauces at Jim -N- Nicks. To get back to a comparison of Martin's BBQ Joint - Martin's has more variety, but none of their sauces were really as good (even mixed). Martin's tends to be very "spice heavy" where you get the sense that the spice hasn't fully blended with the sauce. Not the case here.

Unfortunately we were unable to try desert. I am told their Banana Pudding is a great experience. That's on my list for next time.

After we finished eating, the manager wanted our honest opinion on the food and experience and we gave him the same feedback that we are giving here. I would rate Blue Moon a 7.75, and I only ding them a .25 point because the sides and sauces need to come up a notch or so. That's one of my higher ratings. Blue Moon is definitely a strong contender to Jim -N- Nicks and one of the better places in the Nashville area. The prices are good, and the service is excellent. Real smoked BBQ and a great atmosphere to eat it in. Check them out at:

104 Sanders Ferry
Hendersonville, TN. 37075

Tell them BBQ Quest sent you!

-Big Daddy

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Martins BBQ Joint - Nolensville, TN

Today I have a chance to stop into Martin's BBQ Joint in Nolensville. I had heard from a friend that "Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives" from the Food Network was there yesterday and I figured if it was good enough for them, I should give it a whirl. I am glad I did.

I looked them up on Google Maps before I went and noticed there were some mixed reviews, so I went a bit skeptical. I called ahead of time to check on MSG, and fortunately the owner was there to let me know they don't use it. This meant my wife could come to. The place has a real BBQ joint atmosphere. I enjoyed the "Dukes of Hazzard" and Willie Nelson motif they had going on. Nothing like staring at Daisy Duke and an album cover of Jerry Clower's greatest hits while chowing down. :)

We decided to go for the "Big Momma" platter which says "Feeds 2" and has a sampling of everything except chicken. So we ordered chicken to go with it so we could sample everything. Our sides were beans and slaw.

They have a variety of sauces, including a clear vinegar, extra hot, sweet, and regular. They were all OK, but we found ourselves tweaking them a bit (mixing them) to get the flavor we liked. Turns out we like the sweet and regular mixed for most things. They also had a white sauce, but we did not like this one at all. I know that is popular in Alabama, but it's pretty much useless everywhere else.

I usually never like the clear vinegar on pulled pork, but theirs was an exception. It was a little sweet, and went well to flavor the pork. The chicken was more of a rotisserie than BBQ, but it was moist. I am not a fan of putting rub on chicken as the skin never let's it really penetrate and you end up with a soggy crust on the outside. But it wasn't bad and still had good flavor. The brisket was very tender, but did not have as much smoke to I thought it would. It looked from the smoke ring like it would be extremely smoky, but it was mild. However, I think the brisket was better than most BBQ places in the Nashville area.

The ribs we good. We sampled both the baby backs and the spare. I generally like baby backs better, but I have to give them credit on doing the spare's correctly. They were not tough on the outside and pulled off the bone perfectly. I think next time, I will just go with a slab of those and my special sauce tweaking mixture. As for the sides, the baked beans actually tasted like baked beans and not from a can. They had a spice in them I cannot put my finger on, but they were good. The slaw was good as well (mayo based) and had the right amount of sweetness to it.

Overall, it's not the absolute best BBQ out there, but this was a good find to the Nashville scene, and I would rate this a solid 7, and would come back again. The staff was friendly from the taking of our order, to the delivery of the food. I also notice that singer Bo Bice (from American Idol) was in line and ended up sitting at the table next to us and apparently he thought the food was pretty good to. Just another day in Nashville.

I would recommend you give Martin's a try. It definitely represents Tennessee BBQ well.