Thursday, September 29, 2011

Make Your Own Meat Buffet™ in Baton Rouge

TJ's Ribs
6330 Siegen Ln

Baton Rouge, LA 70809
(225) 291-8100

A good tradeoff for traveling in the deep south in the summertime is the excuse to try new BBQ joints.

The smell of hickory smoke, new and exciting sauce flavors, usually a good beer or two... It makes the heat and humidity tolerable when you're on the road.

Having found my way across the country and back a few times, I've been on a mission to find the best BBQ in America for quite awhile now.

So when I was on a plane to Baton Rouge recently, I couldn't wait to ask the locals where to find the best BBQ joint in town.

But let's get one thing straight: No chain restaurants need apply. Ever.

I hear your cries of "but Famous Dave's is sooo good it doesn't matter if it's a chain", and I don't care. When I'm the road, I want real, authentic, local BBQ.

That's how I got to TJ Ribs.

TJ Ribs is a sports-themed restaurant for people that don't really like or care about sports-themed restaurants.

It boasts a pretty respectable collection of LSU sports memorabilia, including Billy Cannon’s 1959 Heisman Trophy, which they claim is larger than any other restaurant and many museums.

But it's classy - not at all tacky and overdone, and there are TV's to catch all the games, but they're not loud and obnoxious.

The waitstaff was young and energetic and seemed to really like their jobs.

The place was bright, clean, spacious, and well organized. It had a pretty comfortable dining room.

Later, when I looked at their website, I realized that's because TJ Moran, the restaurant's owner, is all about passion.

"It’s about the passion of a man who wanted the best. It’s about the passion of a staff and the dedication to the job they do. Most of all, it’s about the passion we take in serving the absolute best barbeque ribs (and more) in the region."

This seemed like the kind of place where despite being known for the ribs, I was going to want to try a little bit of everything.

The menu was pretty big, featuring your usual sports bar appetizers, a surprising number of delicious looking salads, some sandwiches, and the usual: ribs, brisket, chicken, steaks, burgers, seafood - but I was looking to go right for the combo platter.

This was where I got the night's only disappointment.

While they offered a number of different combo platters, they didn't have the comprehensive sampler. Ribs and chicken, brisket and chicken, ribs and fried shrimp, brisket and sausage... but what if you want it all?!?!?

Thankfully, this is where the fine people of TJ Ribs came in to help me out.

The result is a little something I like to call Make Your Own Meat Buffet™.

I ordered up a few of each of the staples, a couple of sides, and settled back with an Andygator from Louisiana's own Abita Brewing Company.

My compatriots were content to order off the menu; one ordering a steak, another some chicken. Not everyone is ready for the Make Your Own Meat Buffet™.

Unless you're with fellow BBQ fanatics, few will want to get a giant sampler and carve up some for everyone. So when one orders the Make Your Own Meat Buffet™ just for yourself, you'd better bring your appetite.

A small plate of TJ's famous smoked back ribs, some brisket, white meat AND dark meat chicken, and a sausage, sided with corn-on-the-cob and some spicy green beans.

Now I'm not claiming to be a trained BBQ professional, but after a few years of dedicated service to the cause, I can say I'm an experienced amateur.

And by far, the ribs were the most tender I've ever had in my BBQ career. They melted right in your mouth. Their combination of dry rub, marinating, roasting and grilling was supreme.

The chicken was equally as moist and tender, and the sausage had a really rich, earthy flavor. It could be a contender for my favorite of the plate. The brisket was dipped in au jus and that had an excellent flavor as well.

The corn was nice and sweet, and the créole seasoning gave it a really great contrast. It was tough to pick a favorite, as I usually go with green beans, and theirs were soaking in a really delicious spicy broth that included crushed red pepper flakes and tiny pieces of bacon.

My table-mates seemed to be enjoying their meals, and I did get a taste of the garlic sauteed mushrooms, which didn't disappoint.

Overall satisfaction rate of this BBQ experience was very high. I've had slightly tastier chicken, although this was tender and no slouch. The brisket wasn't my favorite, but the au jus was a great touch and really added another element.

The ribs were absolutely perfect, but the sausage was my favorite. The sides were winners and the green beans in particular make it to the Suit 1984 Green Bean Hall Of Fame.

The only advice would be a larger and more diverse sampler platter. The Make Your Own Meat Buffet™ really needs to be addressed here.

I propose a sampler platter that includes brisket, ribs, pulled chicken (as I found the chicken portions too large for a sample), sausage, some pulled pork, cajun fried shirmp, and 4 sides.

This way, everyone at the table could go family style and get a taste of everything. Couple it with a pitcher of Andygator and you could even call it a Game Day Sampler or something.

I left TJ Ribs fat and happy. I'd definitely recommend it as my new favorite BBQ joint in Baton Rouge, and I'm looking forward to
Make Your Own Meat Buffet™ Part 2.

FINAL REVIEW: Seriously Thought About Buying the Shirt!

1 comment:

  1. "Not everyone is ready for the Make Your Own Meat Buffet™." ...and some never will be