Two weeks after we had 9 show up for our Monday-night dinner at Ruby’s, just 3 turned out for dinner at Richard Jones Pit Barbeque in Austin. I guess I’m glad that more people didn’t show up, so that more people would not be disappointed. RJ’s did not impress, and my best guess is that we won’t be making a return visit.
The food was decent—the chicken was sizable and tasted pretty good, and I enjoyed my side of caramelized onions, which were served right off the grill—but I would group RJ’s with Ruby’s and Iron Works as my least favorite BBQ joints thus far. The iced tea tasted like it had been sitting out for longer than it should have been. Looking back, a good sign of things to come was that no one else was dining there. The traffic usually doesn’t lie.
Julianne, whom I have unilaterally designated Miss Man Up, left dinner unfulfilled by the food and atmosphere but not entirely disappointed: “RJ’s, RJ’s…What to say…I am not as enthusiastic as Drew nor as cynical as Russell, therefore remove the outliers and you have just my review. I walked into a restaurant that was dead silent and completely empty at 7 pm. Granted, it was a Monday night but wasn’t sure what to think. It is BBQ in South Austin. The atmosphere left much to be desired. A French Bistro poster on the wall with faux ivy all around. Not exactly the BBQ joint we normally visit, but I was willing to give it a chance, for these small mom-and-pop places are the backbone of our capitalistic society. I got the brisket and the chicken. The brisket was not bad; it was pretty good. Kind of 'prime rib-ish' if that can be an adjective. The chicken was dry, but then it was white meat, and I am soo particular about my chicken. The beans were good—a tad too much salt—and, wow, that fried okra was great! As for the overall experience, how can it ever be bad with good friends and great conversation? Deer hunting, football, BCS rankings, European travels, and, of course, Russell’s take on the Obamanation we live in. He even went so far as to rhyme a few phrases. Those creative juices were rolling. All in all, can you have a bad night surrounded by two handsome gentlemen? Ladies, be jealous.”
And now we pause. Yep, that’s right. Be jealous, ladies. Julianne said it; I’m just echoing. On second thought, are you gonna just sit there and let Julianne have us all to herself? Or are you gonna man up and join us? I mean, not that Julianne is not more than enough for the “handsome gentlemen,” but we wouldn’t want you to feel excluded. If you ladies want to join the fun, I guess we can make some room. :)
Russell doesn’t hold back, and I would hope for nothing less: “RJ’s on SoCo is typical South Austin BBQ: They’re slightly more concerned with keeping Austin weird and with their own coolness factor than they are with serving you a quality meal. That said, I found the waiter, manager, and random homeless dude who came in to bum some water to be pretty entertaining. However, I can’t recommend the food. Traditional Texas BBQ this was NOT. The fried okra was probably the best thing on the menu, which clearly doesn’t speak well of the meat and more traditional BBQ sides. The moist brisket was almost entirely fat mixed with some gristle. It was also cold. The cornbread muffins and onion rings were just about hard enough to crack glass, and the cole slaw was mostly just a thick mayonnaise dip. The wait staff was friendly, but not very knowledgeable. You know you’re in trouble when the help doesn’t eat there and doesn’t really recommend that you order anything either. They were pretty cool, though; I especially liked the musician/part-time manager who writes love songs for vampires (apparently, they need a little lovin’, too). Bottom line: There’s a reason why Austin people make the drive down to the Lick, up to Louie Mueller’s or over to Lockhart for the good BBQ!”
Julianne’s scores – Brisket: 7.3; Chicken: 6.5; Green beans: 5.5; Fried okra: 8.5; Atmosphere: 4.5; Overall experience: 6.5
Russell’s scores – Brisket: 1.88; Sides: 2.55; Service: 6.75; Overall experience: 3.15
Drew’s scores – Chicken: 8.8; Caramelized onions: 8; Green beans: 6.5; Atmosphere: 3; Overall experience: 6.6
Overall Man-Up Score: 5.4167