BBQ This!

One thing we left behind in the South is good barbecue. There weren’t a lot places surprisingly but there were enough to make it difficult to replace. Jim’s Smokin’ Que even had national press.  I thought it was only OK, but another place that has national notoriety is Col. Poole’s. And the NC BBQ Trail began by our old digs.

In searching the internet it seems that Caribbean Kitchen had the best ribs in Cedar Rapids but alas they are no more. Scouring with Google some more turned up BBQ This! I liked the idea of dry rubbed meat that you sauce yourself. I associate this with Texas and if it’s good barbecue I don’t even use sauce.

BBQ This ! is tucked in a small shopping plaza off Boyson Rd. It is another one of those “fast casual” establishments. You order under the big “Order Here” sign, one order at a time, and pay at the end of the line, exactly like Subway. Our order totaled $55 though so this is less casual than I would have thought. They aren’t using this model to keep prices low, that’s for sure.

We came here in search of good ribs. BBQ This! has baby back ribs rather than spare ribs. They cut each rib off the rack for you. I ordered a full rack for The Child thinking she would eat half and I would eat half. She also ordered mac n’ cheese and homemade chips. She went to town on the mac ‘n cheese but only had a rib or two. She didn’t care for them but didn’t have a real good reason as to why. But she did say she did not like the barbecue sauces. I did not care for the ribs either. I found them to be very dry. I would have liked them to be tender and juicy . The search continues.

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The Wife went with a two meat combo, pulled pork and sausage. For sides she got the potato salad and the cheesy potatoes which was like a hash brown casserole. All of the combos come with a side of sweet corn bread. She preferred the spicy barbecue sauce.

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I ordered the sliced beef brisket and sausage with sides of baked beans and apple crisp. I began seeking sausage out at barbecue places after all my trips in Texas. I call a brisket, pulled pork, sausage plate a Texas plate. BBQ This didn’t have a three meat combo to offer though. The brisket was good but I found it to be dry. It was good with both the mild and the sweet sauce. But truthfully, I couldn’t tell the difference between the two sauces. I love smoked sausage and it was quite good. I just poured one of the sauces over the sausage like I was in Texas.The baked beans were so-so, they had a vinegary flavor to them. Being a Yankee I prefer sweet corn bread to dry southern corn bread, but I need butter. The corn bread was slightly sweet, and tasted pretty good with the whipped spread I found, though I would have preferred real butter. The apple crisp was a winner. It was fresh from the oven and oh so good.

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Not really my kind of barbecue joint but the sausage was good enough to go back. Next time though I will probably try the smoked wings.

Jerseys Pub and Grub

Since we arrived in Cedar Rapids The Child had been bugging me every day to go back to Jerseys. She wants the fried cheese balls. A look at Google Maps surprised me by showing a Jerseys by our house! She had to wait a few days but I finally took her one night.

I really liked this place. Again, classic sports bar with all of the TVs. That seems to be our mainstay for eating out. Perhaps we are still rebelling from moving to a dry county in the Appalachian mountains years ago.

I actually ordered a beer. I rarely do if we are eating out as a family. And just one. It’s too easy for me to get carried away especially since I am a guzzler. If I remember correctly I  ordered a pilsner from Millstream Brewery, a local Iowa brewery. Very easy drinking. I was smart to have ordered the pint and not the 22oz. But Thursdays are 22 ounce $4 craft brews!!! I could have had six more ounces for the same price. Oh well. There will always be a next time now that we moved to Cedar Rapids!

We of course got the cheese balls. See my previous writing on Jerseys Downtown for my discussion of them. This time she ordered the chicken tenders for dinner, of course.

The Wife ordered the Breakfast Burger and homemade chips on the side. A colleague’s husband raved about it so now it was The Wife’s turn to be bold and adventurous. Remember what I said about adding an egg? She got the double which seemed to be the perfect size. She was nervous about the warm maple syrup on the side but became a convert after the first dip. The Wife not only raved about the Breakfast Burger but also the chips. Now I’m not foolish enough to believe that every restaurant serving “home made chips” is mandolining potatoes in the back. I know they are a food service product. But Jersey’s is doing something different with theirs, maybe brining? These chips had the perfect level of saltiness.

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I was tempted to get the Breakfast Burger myself, because? Fried egg! But instead went with the broasted chicken. When we lived in South Georgia we had plenty of choices for fantastic fried chicken. When we moved to North Georgia we had zero places to choose from for fried chicken. Ugh! I haven’t had any good fried chicken in almost 10 years! Iowa is the number one producer of eggs in the US. I suppose with that many chickens laying eggs in Iowa a fair number end up as fryers and that is why I see broasted chicken on so many menus around town.

By the way, broasted isn’t the same as deep frying. Broasting is also known as pressure frying. It’s kind of a combination of pressure cooking and deep frying. You need special equipment to safely cook with because the hot frying oil is under pressure. Broasting claims cooks faster and seals in the juices and flavor of whatever you are cooking.

The broasted chicken was wonderful. Best chicken I’ve had since Bainbridge. I had talked the waitress into getting me two thighs. I only like and only eat thighs. It didn’t have the cayenne kick like down south but the skin was wonderfully seasoned. The meat was juicy and flavorful the way dark meat should be. But the skin is my favorite part. I peel it off right away to let the meat cool down and set the skin to the side. When I’ve finished picking the thigh bones clean I roll the skin up and eat it in one or two bites. Jerseys didn’t disappoint.

The chicken was the highlight but I should discuss my sides. The broasted chicken comes with broasted potato wedges, a roll plus one side. I ordered the mac ‘n cheese. And thanks to the couple next to us I was inspired to add a side of onion rings after seeing their order come out. The onion rings were fantastic. They say beer battered on the menu but these were a dry crunchy coating, just like I like. There were more than The Wife and I could finish.

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I ordered the Mac ‘n Cheese for The Child thinking she would eat it with her chicken tenders. As usual I was wrong to guess what she might eat. I was impressed with the Mac ‘n Cheese. I don’t eat macaroni and cheese. I’m not originally from the South where it is considered a staple and counts as a vegetable. Jerseys macaroni and cheese is baked in individual ramekins. I think The Child was turned off by the bread crumbs on top. I enjoyed it but there may have been some nostalgia at play. Add tuna and peas and it would have been my mother’s tuna casserole we ate weekly growing up.

As for the obligatory sides, the roll was meh. Just your plain old white roll from the grocery. I love broasted potato wedges which are like the potato wedges you get as a side from KFC. Jerseys’ were bigger and better. Four quarter wedges from a baked potato, seasoned and broasted. Be careful, they stay hot for a long time.

Our server Megan was fantastic. She was extremely friendly and talkative with us. We will definitely be back and with the close proximity to our house may even become regulars.