Saturday, February 13, 2016
Jack and Jameson's Smokehouse (Franklin, TN)
One week ago, Jack and Jameson's Smokehouse opened up shop in the former home of Mickey Roos Barbecue down in Franklin. The owners of this joint are new to the barbecue arena, but you'll likely recognize them anyway. Television stars Jonathan Jackson (Nashville, General Hospital, The Sarah Connor Chronicles) and Steve Burton (The Young and the Restless, General Hospital) joined forces to bring this restaurant/bar/music venue to life. I can imagine that Jack and Jameson's will become a tourist hotspot, so I wanted to check them out before word officially spread to the masses.
With most of the open tables adorned with "reserved" signage, my seating options were limited to the bar or a large communal table. Not having the slightest desire to dine with strangers, I settled for the bar, which was only slightly better. High barstools and no foot rail made things a little uncomfortable for a tall person, my knees aching by the time I left. The large flat screen TV mounted above the beer taps would have been perfect for a little lunchtime athletic entertainment. However, it's sole use seems to be as a digital list of their available draft beers, all of which are local and craft beers (none of the usual domestics). On that topic, I think they're being a little too heavy handed with the faux Southern charm; everything does not need to come served in a mason jar.
The atmosphere here is about as rustic-chic as you'd expect. The plank wood that lines the walls gives this place a homey, welcoming feel, while the large windows bring in plenty of nice natural light. Near the rear of the dining room is a large music stage, which I assume they intend to make frequent use of (although not today, I was told). I'm also sure that the outdoor patio space will be hopping once Spring has sprung.
The vast majority of their offerings were burgers and patty melts, with more choices for salad than for smoked meat. For a restaurant with "smokehouse" right in its name, I was rather aghast to see only two barbecue entrees on the menu (not including a burger that you have the option to stuff with pork or brisket). With no multi-meat combos either, I settled for a brisket plate with loaded baked potato salad and mac-n-cheese on the side. It took just over 20 minutes to receive something that should have only required slicing and plating. By the time my order finally came, I was both starving and irritated. Not a good start.
The potato salad was inelegantly slopped down right into a puddle of grease and/or juice draining from the brisket. It did have a great flavor though. I could definitely taste the bacon, and it was delectably creamy. Braided noodles were an interesting choice for macaroni and cheese. It was nice and cheesy, but didn't have much flavor beyond that. I'm not sure what type of shredded cheese they put on top, but it was certainly not one of the good melty ones (e.g. Gouda, Fontina, Gruyere). In the end, it just kind of sat there adding a hard texture to an otherwise gooey side dish.
Chopped brisket? Seriously??? Ugh. Once I got past my initial disdain, I explored the pile-o-meat further, only to find even more disappointment. It had a slight touch of smoke, but not nearly enough. There were plenty of red bits of smoked meat scattered throughout, though they seemed to have only picked up the smoke's coloring and hardly any of its savory deliciousness. The brisket was tender, but its juiciness came mostly in the form of a liquidy au jus poured over the top. Frankly, this tasted more like a pot roast or what I'll call "Hanukkah brisket" than real barbecue.
My favorite part of the meal was their potato salad, by a very, very wide margin. I overheard the bartender say that their grand opening isn't until March, which I suppose makes this a soft opening. The other customers sitting near me seemed to really enjoy their burgers. That being said, I hope these guys add some new barbecue menu items between now and March, otherwise they might as well rename it "Jack and Jameson's Burger House". Either way, I doubt I'll be back.
Jack and Jameson's Smokehouse
509 Hillsboro Rd
Franklin, TN 37064