Review – Jim Dandy’s Family BBQ

(Guest post by The Boyfriend)

I have a love/hate relationship with smoke.

There’s smoke.  But then there’s smoke.

DSC_0119The wrong kind (read that as cigarette, or worse, cigar smoke) gives me an instant headache, clogs my sinuses, and transforms the whites of my eyes into something resembling a road map.   It’s rare that Julie and I venture into bars in Kentucky, where smoking is still prevalent.  If we do, however, it’s a safe bet that the first things I’ll do when we get home will be to get out of my clothes (going so far as to put them in a separate room), get into the shower, and wash my hair.  It’s that bad.

But hardwood smoke is another matter.  Is there a more welcome aroma than the first whiff of a hardwood fire on a crisp fall or winter morning?   Or better yet, the distinctive smells in and around a barbecue restaurant?

It was the latter that grabbed my attention on Friday when I had lunch at Jim Dandy’s Family BBQ, just off I-75 in Sharonville.  As soon as I opened my car door, I could well imagine I was standing outside my favorite barbecue joint back home in Alabama.  Before going inside, I walked over and took a bigger sniff near the big black iron pit, steadily belching smoke in front of the restaurant.  I smelled pig.

To find a restaurant that truly understands its final product, look no further than Jim Dandy.  Their slogan, prominently displayed in several places in and around the restaurant, is presumably a good-natured dig at Montgomery Inn.DSC_0118

In various reviews and stories here on wine me, dine me, we’ve discussed the beauty of letting perfectly-smoked meat speak for itself and that anything added to the meat should be used sparingly and should enhance the meat’s flavor, not mask it.  Included in Jim Dandy’s mission statement:  “Great BBQ is about superbly prepared meat.  Sauce and rubs can add to the experience, but the wood fire brings out the very best flavor and texture.”

My people.

Though there were many meat options (chicken, beef brisket, baby back ribs, St. Louis style ribs, etc.), I settled on the pulled pork sandwich platter.  (As Lewis Grizzard, one of my favorite Southern writers once said, “If it ain’t pig, it ain’t barbecue.”)

TDSC_0112he meat was as good as it smelled, very moist, and falling-apart tender.  I ate most of the generously-piled sandwich without any of the house-made barbecue sauces on the table.   About halfway through the meal, I added some of the mild tomato-based sauce; it was good, but not an absolute requirement.

The side dishes I selected were fine, but not particularly memorable.  The baked beans were hearty, sweet, and onion-y.  The coleslaw was light and tangy.   Next time, I think I’ll try the collard greens and potato salad.

DSC_0120My favorite non-food-related part of the experience was the restaurant’s catering truck that sat in front of the building.  It’s a replica of an ambulance…

Don’t laugh.  Any true Southerner knows that really good barbecue can be a lifesaver.

Before I left, I took another stroll past the barbecue pit, still billowing its wonderful mixture of smoke and pig. I could still smell it on my clothes when I started my car.  And this time, I wasn’t at all in a hurry to scrub it all away.

Jim Dandy's BBQ on Urbanspoon

  • JustinLanier

    @winemedineme looks like a done deal. How was that cornbread?

    • http://winemedinemecincinnati.com The Boyfriend

      @JustinLanier — It was pretty good for what it was. Very moist. I’ve noticed that most restaurants in this part of the country serve sweet cornbread, and this was the case at Jim Dandy’s. I grew up in rural northeast Alabama, and didn’t encounter sweet cornbread until I was an adult. For my money, if it’s sweet, it’s not cornbread…it’s corn “cake”.

      • http://pfoody.com bshermcincy

        Amen on the corn cake. I may have grown up around here, but I prefer cornbread with my meal, not as dessert! My wife is from Georgia and ever since she introduced me to corn bread baked in a cast iron skillet, I have never looked back.

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  • Jason

    Nice review! Sounds like a place I will have to try some time. You get extra points for the Lewis Grizzard reference, too.

    • http://winemedinemecincinnati.com The Boyfriend

      Grizzard died more than sixteen years ago. I still miss him. I have most of his books on my shelf.

  • Anita

    I didn’t love Jim Dandy’s at all– in fact I regard it as the last bbq place I’d eat in Cincinnati. The sides were overcooked, the meat was just okay and the staff didn’t understand the term “service”. It was completely unforgettable foodwise. For my money I’d rather go to Walt’s in Colerain and I’ll miss Burbank’s forever…

    • http://winemedinemecincinnati.com The Boyfriend

      I’m sorry to hear that. I didn’t comment on the service because it’s a step-up-to-the-counter-and-place your-order format, and the drinks are self-service. I generally prefer sit-down ordering, but by the time I had paid for the meal and had drawn my soda, my food was waiting for me. So I had no complaints.

      The place was fairly busy for mid-afternoon on a weekday. I have no idea what portion of the customers were first-timers, regulars, or something in-between. No one seemed to have any complaints about the food or the service.

      As I mentioned in the review, the sides were OK, but nothing more. The meat, however, was really quite good. I’ll be eating there again sometime in the next few weeks. If I have a vastly different experience, I’ll let you know about it.

      Julie and I like Walt’s Barbecue, and we’re also fans of Pit-to-Plate in Mt. Healthy. We, too, will always miss Burbank’s…but more for personal, sentimental reasons than for the quality of the food.

  • Mark

    Jim is the nicest man and I enjoy his company when he’s in the restaurant. I usually get the sandwiches, which are great. I wish Jim all the luck with his restaurant. I dine there a couple of times a month.