This review is going be half review and half psyche insight/personal therapy session, because I readily admit that I have a problem (which if this was some sort of Burger Anonymous meeting might be a positive first step). My problem is this: I’m personally frustrated by how much I like Jim N’ Nicks (forthwith to be called JNN cause I’m also feeling a bit lazy).*
*This isn’t my first trip to this couch … I will conceal names of this pubescent grumpy cat face, but I had this same problem in high school. [Insert name of your choice] drove me crazy. She was rude. She was dummerna bowling shoe. Her tastes in music likely included Hank Jr., Warrant and Air Supply. And for the life of me, I am at a loss to explain why I was attracted to her.
She was my siren. Lash me to the front of my Ford Granada and let me face the peril …
Part of my interest in burgers and reviewing food has its roots in JNN, when they opened their restaurant in Hoover. I frankly didn’t know what to think: classy décor, young servers and professionalism. Who ever heard of such in a real barbecue joint? You can’t be a respectable barbecue place or burger joint and have people who are starting their modelling careers waiting your table. You can’t scream “I’ve been professionally designed and decorated to give you that oh so smokey favor.” You can’t have some surfer looking dude at the bar bringing you JNN’s current hipster cocktail – local sourced whiskey, soda made when the thrush knocks on the final light of Durin’s Day, glasses recycled from a local homeless shelter and artisanal ice cubes.
IT’S a Bama BBQ place for Christ’s sake.
• I want more overweight guys working a register
• I want a middle-aged server calling me darlin’
• I want to see people who appear to have first come in sometime around 1988 and are still there
• I want to imagine that the owner decorated the place himself/herself with junk that had just be sitting around their garage
But dammit, if they don’t pull it off and double dammit, I have never had a bad meal or bad experience at JNN. The food is exceptional. The barbecue is some of the best in the region. And everything – everything – on the menu is typically done exceptionally well.
Which brings me to a recent visit and the Southern Burger … I’ve never been impressed by any burger that was supposedly a barbecue burger, until this one. The Southern Burger is simple: fresh meat, same bun as the bbq sammy, cheddar cheese, pickles, unbelievable bacon, grilled onions, and their bbq sauce.
It shouldn’t work… the onions are very likely to overpower… the bbq sauce can cover too much ground … the pickles could give it too much sour.
But it’s perfectly balanced.
And JNN gets a second award; I’ve been to five-star places and uttered the words “cook it medium” and they bring it out exactly the way they intended to cook it the whole time – medium well or burnt-er. JNN cooked it exactly like I asked, and it made all the squishy difference.
And let me reiterate: I’m not a big fan of bbq burgers. But I’m sitting here now, and I want another one!
Let’s add the fries… Help me Oprah! The fries are fresh and perfect, with that unmistakable mix of sweet and sourness that comes only from fresh potatoes, fried.
Add to this, the delicious greens I had (I shared fries) and the indulgence of the hot links appetizer (JNN’s sausage with crackers, sauce, peppers and pimento cheese) and stealing a bite of mac and cheese from the mano junior … and I’m hanging my head in complete shame …
• I have fallen from the true burger way
• I have failed to be an obedient burger or bbq disciple
• I have ignored the oxymorons and enjoyed your fru-fru bbq
And the only thing I can say, really, is that it’s good. It’s very good.