BBQ Chicken Salad, BBQ Pork Ribs, Sweet Potato Pie
Location: San Francisco
Favorite Restaurant: Everett & Jones Barbeque
Reviewed Everett & Jones Barbeque: Sunday, October 9, 2005
It’s no secret — it’s the very best barbeque in the Bay Area and possibly the world. No joke! We arrived at a good time this evening, and we lucked out and got seated quickly, which doesn’t happen all the time. There have been many occasions in the past when I’ve had to wait for quite a while. First off, it was LOUD! Really LOUD! It definitely has a party atmosphere. Hip-Hop and R&B music was piped in, across the bar on either side a football game was blaring from two TVs, and the place was packed. It has a very down-home southern vibe — like you’re eating in a big barn with all of your friends and neighbors. I like the fact that it is a very diverse crowd with people from all walks of life. Saturday nights they have live Jazz and Blues.
We started with some drinks. I had a Saucy Sistah Ale, which is a local, brewed special for E&J. I didn’t ask who made it, but I found it to be very refreshing and not too heavy, like some microbrews can be. My girlfriend ordered a margarita that was on the “too sweet” side. Our server was a very friendly young man, casual but not unprofessional. He was very prompt and polite.
We decided to split the #3 Combo of pork ribs and beef brisket. This is a lot of food even for two. I have to say, this time I was a bit disappointed. The ribs were a little over-cooked and crunchy on the ends. E&J’s consistency can be a bit off sometimes but that never stops me from going, because a bad day at E&J is better than the best day at most places! The beef was excellent. It was tender and juicy and the smoky flavor was not overpowering. Their BBQ sauce is outstanding, and we always order the medium with the hot on the side. Sometimes the hot can be too hot, again with the consistency! For our sides, we chose the greens, beans, and candied yams. The greens, I believe, are a mix of collard and mustard greens, boiled for days with ham hocks. I always give ‘em a good solid coating of Crystal red pepper sauce — mmm-mmm. The beans are quite good as well: they are a cross between those sweet syrupy beans and Texas style chili. They are sweet enough to be served with the BBQ, but I like the earthiness of the cumin and chilies. The candied yams were a bit too sweet for my taste.
After washin’ the whole thing down with another beer, I swear I was too full to order dessert. Another solid outing to E&J. My bass player is gonna be bent outta shape that I didn’t invite him this time; he is like a madman when it comes to this place. I bet he’d eat there every day if he could — what a kook!
Occupation: Owner of Women’s Clothing Boutique
Location: San Francisco
Favorite Restaurant: 1550 Hyde Cafe & Wine Bar
Reviewed Everett & Jones Barbeque: Sunday, October 2, 2005
You get a family atmosphere at Everett & Jones: high ceilings, sports TV, large tables and lots of space. While waiting to be seated (no reservations), you can check out the gift display (t-shirts, E&J mugs), and go over the straightforward menu of barbecued meats and sides.
Expect generous helping of barbecue, and mostly sweet flavors; sauces are sweet, potato salad is made with sweet dill, and desserts…well, you know. Still, the meats are tender, the portions are generous, and your family will love the fun, happy atmosphere.
Occupation: Art & Antique Dealer
Location: San Francisco
Favorite Restaurant: Lark Creek Inn
Reviewed Everett & Jones Barbeque: Wednesday, October 5, 2005
Being raised in the Midwest, I love good barbeque. So, when I heard about Everett & Jones, I invited my brother to join me to experience some down-home, finger-licking, lip-smacking BBQ food. We were sorely disappointed. I should have known something was off when I called the restaurant to make a reservation. When my first call was answered and I was immediately put on hold. I stayed on hold for almost ten minutes, which, on the phone, seems like ten hours, until I finally hung up and redialed the number only to get a busy signal. The next day I called again and a very confused-sounding person answered. When I requested a reservation he wasn’t sure how to take one, he put me on hold twice, and then finally took my name and my reservation for two people at 7:30 on Wednesday night. I also took his name and thanked him for his help. The day of the dinner a close friend called and asked if she could join us, so I said sure and promptly called the restaurant to change the reservation to a party of three. Good thing I did, because when the person at the restaurant checked the books, she said there was no reservation for me under that name for tonight. I gave her the name of the person who took the reservation, she put me on hold and when she came back on she said they would seat my party of three for this evening. This phone fiasco was the foreshadowing of things to come.
The restaurant is located a few blocks from Jack London Square and has large windows and an outdoor eating area surrounding the front and side of the building. It is brightly lit and has a lively, colorful interior with all kinds of memorabilia strewn about. It was abuzz with people. As you approach, your mouth starts to water as you inhale the smoky, sweet smell of BBQ. When we entered there were two long pew-like benches where people were seated, waiting for a table. At the end of the benches was the host’s stand, where there was a clipboard with a name list attached to it, but no host. People were clamoring to put their name on the waiting list, but there was no pen. The frantic search began through everyone’s pockets and purses for a writing instrument. We were not quite sure what to do — put our names on the list, or pray that this time we actually did have a reservation. Finally, a completely deadpan-faced, lifeless girl stood behind the host stand. Upon seeing my confused look, she blurted out, “What do you want?” I said I had a 7:30 reservation for three under my name. She pulled out what looked to be a torn piece of toilet paper with infinitesimal writing on it from her pant pocket, examined it, then grabbed three menus, and barked, “Over here.” Some people waiting for tables glared at us as we were seated at a table directly behind one of the long benches. She tossed our menus on the tables and left, and we all said in unison, “That was odd.”
As we were looking over our menus, we realized that hair and hat brims of some of the people who were seated on the “waiting bench” were dangling over the edge of our table, in particular, a beautiful long ponytail on a well-dressed woman. We spotted another table that had just emptied in the corner and asked the hostess as she passed if we could move to that table. She sighed and said, “Yeah,” and so we did.
The tables are covered with varying colored, checkered cloths, which are then covered with clear plastic (BBQ can get a bit messy). The silverware is piled into copper teakettles at the end of the table, and next to the silverware sat a brightly-colored mini watering can, which held a little bunch of feathery plant greens and a single dead flower. When I say dead, I mean completely shriveled, brown as dirt, can’t tell what it was when it was alive, Addams Family dead flower! I felt compelled to pick it up to try and figure out what it was in its former life and concluded it had been a sunflower. I looked around and saw that each table was adorned with the same pathetic arrangement. Suspended from the ceiling were large umbrella canopies, and interspersed between them and scattered throughout the dining room and the bar, were television sets.
The menu is fairly basic and set up in a multiple-choice format. There is BBQ chicken, ribs, links, and brisket, and a selection of sides to choose from: coleslaw, potato salad, baked beans, greens, etc. If you order a dinner of one item or a combo to two or three items, you choose two sides and get a cornbread muffin. We sat at the table a good ten minutes before the person we assumed was our waiter came to us. I say “assumed” because he did not utter a word, he just pulled out his order book and stared at us. There was no “Hello,” no “Have any questions?” Just a blank, emotionless stare. So, we started ordering to see if we could evoke a response. We ordered two plates of chicken and ribs and one plate of the three-meat combo: chicken, ribs, and brisket. He suddenly mumbled, “Mild, medium or hot?” We assumed he meant the BBQ sauce. We had the three-meat combo with hot sauce and the rest with medium. He then said, “Sides?” and we ordered coleslaw, baked beans, and potato salad. Finally, he mumbled, “Drinks?” and we ordered a pitcher of beer and a lemonade. While still writing, he turned and left. The busboy brought us water, which came in jelly jars with a lemon slice, which was a nice touch.
When our food arrived, it was brought to us by the stone-faced hostess, who barked out, “Chicken and ribs!” We said, “Yes,” and she set the plate on the table. Then she barked out “Ribs,” and we said it wasn’t ours and that we had ordered another plate of chicken and ribs. She glared at us and in an even louder voice she yelled “RIBS!!!” We again politely stated we had chicken and ribs. She then raised the plate to her eyes, and said, “Oh, this is chicken and ribs” set it on the table and left, after which my friend stated, “That girl is downright surly.” Another, friendlier person brought out the triple combo and all our sides. After she left, we realized we had no napkins and we could not get anyone’s attention, so I got up, went to the serving station, grabbed a pile of paper napkins and brought them back to the table.
The portions are more than generous, but I could now see why the “surly” hostess could not discern what was on the plate; it was all drowning in BBQ sauce. You could barely tell a piece of chicken from a rib. So here’s the rundown of the meal: the ribs were tender, but a bit fatty for my taste. The chicken, once some of the sauce was removed, was burnt black on the outside, but the meat was still juicy. The medium sauce was tasty and tangy, though there was way too much on the plate. On the other hand, the combo of three meats with hot sauce was almost inedible to me. The sauce was basically the medium sauce with a jar, no kidding, a jar of red chili pepper flakes thrown into the mix. Thousands of pepper seeds were suspended in the sauce, which completely obliterated your mouth. This use of heat was obviously for shock value and certainly not to enhance the food. I can handle hot, but this was ridiculous. The sides were all forgettable: cement potato salad, wet and limp coleslaw, and OK baked beans. The cornbread muffins were fine.
We ordered two desserts, which were individual sized pies, one pecan and one sweet potato. They were one of the best parts of the meal with tender crusts and flavorful centers. When the waiter gave me the bill to sign at the end of our meal, he uttered, “Got a pen?” We had come full circle, searching for another pen as we did when we entered.
This place is a service nightmare. Unfriendly, uncaring, rude people, who act as though this job is a punishment, are handling the food you are about to eat, NO THANKS. There is a general lack of care and pride in this dining establishment, which is evident in the apathetic people who work there. The food is mediocre at best, so why bother? Everett & Jones Barbeque doesn’t hit the bull’s-eye — it doesn’t even hit the dartboard!