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Jim 'N Nick's

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One of my personal rules of barbecue is to avoid chains.  There are probably a couple reasons for that.  I enjoy supporting the local joint and those that are trying to make a living by working there.  Each one of these seems to have a story where the pitmaster cooked for an event or as a hobby and someone said, “You should open a restaurant.”  I love hearing about those types of successes.  It’s also hard to quality control when you have multiple locations and one original pitmaster.  I’ve been to chains that tasted bland and showed no personality.  You’re playing the odds smartly if you go for the local joint over a chain barbecue restaurant.

I have found exceptions to that rule and one of them is Jim ‘N Nick’s.  I’ve always enjoyed their pork and trimmings but they were too expensive.  $14 for a plate with two sides was too much for me.  Barbecue was supposed to be a poor man’s food, created out of necessity and perfected over centuries of making the most of what you had.  Thanks to COVID, prices have increased on everything and I find the average price of a pork plate is around $11, regardless of where you go.  Jim ‘N Nick’s is now more in line with the rest of the market and my prejudice towards the higher price is gone.  Happily, I was reintroduced to the deliciousness of Jim ‘N Nick’s craft when I ate there with a good friend from high school.  I decided then that they had to be a part of the Chase!

Jim ‘N Nick’s is one of the rare large chains that has consistency in their barbecue across all rooftops.  They’re an enigma, wrapped in a riddle, cloaked in mystery.  Every one I’ve visited has delivered on my expectations.  The pork is always slow cooked so it pulls apart and is very tender.  There are rarely any bites of fat like you sometimes get when a joint cooks their meat faster and chops it.  The pork is always moist and glistening, which tells me the fat has been rendered out but the juices maintained to hold in all that fatty flavor.  It has a beautiful smoke ring that’s accompanied by a gentle smoke taste.  The meat is really delicate and has an almost velvety texture on the inside while delivering a nice bark on the outside bits.  This is beginning to sound like a fashion review and while it is beautiful to look at, it’s much better enjoyed eaten than worn.

The baked beans are very nice, slightly sweet and well-seasoned.  There’s meat in the mix which is always a plus with me.  The fries are traditional cut but appear to have some skin on them, which I like.  If I’m gonna fry a potato at home I’m gonna do it with the skin on.  The sauce is a sweet red sauce with a bit of acid for balance and gentle spice that hits the side of your tongue. That trio makes a delicious barbecue plate and you know you’re gonna get that quality every time.  So if you’re away from home and hankering for some pulled pork, you can be confident that Jim ‘N Nick’s will do you right.

If you’re a fan of mac n cheese, Jim N Nick’s version is dynamite!  It’s creamy and rich, baked with that little cheese topping.  I couldn’t pick out the cheese blend but it possible includes cream cheese, which makes everything better.  It’s not oily and there’s no sharpness so I don’t think there’s cheddar, but whatever it is makes for a smooth, hearty, flavor-packed bite.

On a recent date with my wife, we tried the smoked chicken and white barbecue sauce.  She ordered all-white meat on the bone which is unusual for her.  She was served two breasts with the wings still attached.  One breast was delicious while the other wasn’t as good.  Next time she’ll probably get it off the bone as she also didn’t like dealing with the skin.  The flavor was really good and the center was that soft pink color that comes from smoking poultry on the bone.  The white sauce had a nice kick of black pepper which got your attention.  It’s a very smooth consistency and is a bit thinner than I’m used to, but the flavor was terrific.

While the entire menu seems to be good, they have one unique item, cheese biscuits.  These little darlings look more like tiny little muffins but they’re a bite full of joy.  They’re beautifully moist inside with just the slightest bit of crust outside.  The cheese is present and melds with the buttery goodness of the bread.  Best of all they bring a basket of them to your table as part of every meal.  Look at is as a free appetizer and appreciate the magic of the cheese biscuit and the rock-solid franchise that is Jim ‘N Nick’s.

Bonus points for:

Order at the counter

Coke products

Self-serve fountain drinks

TV with sports

Exceptional baked beans

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