Sunday, October 9, 2011

Buddy's bar-b-q. Athens, TN.

Buddy's Bar-b-q, Athens, TN. To begin with, let me go ahead and say this is a chain that is based in Knoxville. Buddy's has 12 locations in Tennessee, and straight up front that it really doesn't qualify as a joint, or at least the Athens location doesn't. This Buddy's is more of a fast food bbq diner, but when the bbq itch strikes, you'll do most anything to scratch it. My son, Jed and I, were headed from Cumming, GA to Knoxville for the GA/TN football game on this absolutely beautiful October 8, 2011 fall day. We had already sort of scheduled our agenda to include a stop along the way to check out a bbq joint. After we got on the road, we both agreed that we would wait until we got to Tennessee before stopping to both break up our trip as well as to check out a new bbq adventure. I was pretty sure that I wanted to avoid the Chattanooga area, so we exited I-75 in Cleveland, TN to find some joint call the BBQ Shack. After getting let down by my GPS, I was a bit annoyed and decided to head back to the interstate to do something else. We used both Google and the GPS to see if we could find another option, and within a few minutes we'd identified Buddy's as an option. Hey, with a name like Buddy's, Bubba's, or Buster's, you must be headed in the right direction.

We got off I-75 and headed east for about a mile to where we spotted Buddy's. I could immediately tell it was a bit more like stopping at Hardees than a real joint, but by this stage in our journey, I wasn't willing to do anymore scouting.... Upon walking in Buddy's I was again reminded that we were walking into a diner that was more akin to fast food than I liked, but we scouted the menu behind the walk up counter. We both immediately noticed that the menu was absent of Brunswick stew, but hey, this was Tennessee, what could you expect? I should have recognized that with the letter's colored "Gosh Aweful Orange" my expectations should not have been too high!

Jed ordered a sandwich and slaw while I ordered a sandwich and bbq beans. The food was placed on the tray right at the counter, and we proceeded for our bbq review. Actually, friends, what we experienced was some really surprisingly pleasing bbq! The sandwiches came out with a dab of the mild sauce already on them, but the portion size was excellent. I started my tasting with the bbq beans. They were actually very good, but if there were any bbq in them I couldn't detect it. I then tasted the sauces. The mild was good and slightly tangy and marginally on the sweet side. The hot sauce lived up to its name. I went easy on the hot variety. To the bbq...good stuff! Given the "appearances" of the diner, the bbq actually was very good. The meat was moist, clean, and very tasty. There was enough moisture that the bbq held together well. Jed had the same opinion, and for both this father and son to totally agree with little debate was a tribute to Buddy's. Overall, I'd give the Buddy's bbq a 4 out of 5, but if you are looking for a joint with a back in time feel, this one doesn't fit the bill.

The overall trip was awesome. 15 hours of time with a grown son, bbq, and a UGA win over TN....Priceless!!!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Jomax BBQ, Metter, GA

Jomax BBQ, Metter, GA. Since the closing of Sweat's BBQ just off I-16 at the Soperton exit in the early 1990's, good Q joints between Macon and Savannah required that you get well off the interstate. Jomax in Metter solves that problem. Right up front, this is a stop that is worth scheduling your trip around. There's no need to try to hold your appetite at bay to make it all the way to Savannah. Jomax will put a smile on your face and leave you plenty of money in the pocket to spend on other things in Savannah.

Several friends had recommended Jomax, but I'd never been able to arrange a stop by this little joint until the last week of September 2011. My friend Jeff and I were on the way back from a meeting in Jekyll, and after a brief conversation, we easily decided to make it to Metter to try out Jomax. Jomax is less than a mile off I-16 immediately across the road from Waffle House. That is important as if you were not looking, you could drive right by.

The joint is quaintly decorated with somewhat of a southern theme. The menu is just right for a bbq joint. There's not a lot of "extra" offerings which is just what I like. We were quickly seated and promptly waited on by a couple of the nicest southern waitresses that you could ask for. My order was a sandwich and stew which it typically my order for a first trip stop. The food came out fairly quickly but nothing to get excited about. The sandwich was just about right in size with a sufficient helping of bbq. I'd already sampled the sauce and decided that both of the two offered sauces would be tried. One was sweet and the other was more typical, but both were of decent quality. The bbq itself was actually quite good. The texture was just about right with some bark and moist enough not to fall apart. Overall, the bbq ranked a fairly mediocre 3.5, but it did hit the spot. Regarding the stew, it actually had good flavor, but being how I strive for a low carb diet, I had to work around the diced potatoes in the stew.

I did notice that a number of the other plates of food that were being served were actually really awesome in appearance. Their "blooming onion" served to the patrons at the next table had my mouth watering. My partner in swine had more french fries than he could eat, and we left out leaving only $20 which included a double generous tip.

So, Jomax is worth the visit. You can kill a diet there if you wish, and based on the overall experience, I'd give it the best Q joint between Macon and Savannah that I have found that is less than a couple of miles of I-16.