Ol’ West BBQ, at 1316 Rte 31 N, Annandale, NJ 908-735-6700. To me that’s Central, so here we go. Their web site is www.olwestbbq31.com. The building is close to the highway and positioned so you come up on it in a rush, from the south. It’s about 12 minutes north of Flemington. The building looks very old west on the outside, and a bit Revolutionary War Inn on the inside. Neither is, apparently, the case; I asked and it’s about 60 years old.
The food was terrific, except a few touches to the side dishes which were a matter of personal taste, like a green pepper overtone to the cole slaw, and a mustardy taste to the grilled vegetables.
They serve 4 kinds of ribs and several other bbq dishes such as chicken, brisket, Carolina chopped pork, pulled pork and more. Everything is said to be smoked, and it looked right, though perhaps not as smoky as I would like.
Although not on the take-out menu, there is a crazy combo platter for 4 called Diamond Jim. It’s 75$. There’s also the Mini-Jim for 2, at 40$. We were waiting for our (very patient) waiter’s return to ask about that and the onion loaf when another waiter went by, carrying a huge platter to, presumably, replenish the buffet I didn’t know they were having. I asked our waiter what the other one had been carrying, and he said, “Oh that’s the Diamond Jim”. Seriously it was 2 feet wide, by about a foot deep and a foot high. There was no buffet.
So we ordered the half loaf of onion straws, at 6$, and it was, I kid you not, a foot long, 4” wide, and about 3” tall. This was the half. We asked 3 different people. The full is apparently 6” tall. They were able to get them extra crispy all the way through, which is no mean feat, because they have a ‘pressure fryer’.
We got scared and only ate about 2” each.
Our Mini-Jim (oh yes, we ordered the Mini-Jim) arrived. It was a 12” round platter, very very full and also a foot high. They also brought out 2 potatoes, 4 hunks of corn bread, 10” dish of grilled veggies, baked beans, and cole slaw (10” dish EACH). This was insane, of course. (These were our sides choices; there are others.)
From the top down, the Mini-Jim contained 2 leg/thigh quarters and one breast/wing quarter of chicken. Great rub on the chicken. Spit roasted.
Now, they were out of their Oklahoma Beef Ribs (sigh) so that may be why we got 5 Righteous Country Rubbed Short Ribs (they were about 10” long each, and also quite wide). One was about 2” thick with meat, the others normal trim. They were good, and not too fatty for short ribs. Though the menu says ‘slathered with sauce’ that is, thankfully, an overstatement. Sauces are good (there are more on the table) and cooked on.
Under those ribs were about 6 or 8 Gunslinger St Louis Ribs. Also very good.
Bottom layer consisted of sections of Kansas City Baby Back Ribs, probably a half rack all together, 4 gorgeous slices of brisket, and a bunch of Memphis Pulled Pork with an apple flavor (not Carolina chopped which is an available sandwich). Good stuff. The baby backs were pink, and juicy, though not membrane-free. My fingers smelled of sauce not smoke when we left, with a shopping bag with 7, yes 7, Styrofoam boxes of leftovers, and we didn’t take the slaw or veggies with us. The beans were terrific, and I thought they had a slight taste and smell of coffee. Waiter said no, they were plain Bush’s Beans, which I’d never tasted, to my knowledge.
We walked around the place, and found two attached sheds with major electric going to one (utilities?) and about 5 industrial size exhaust fans on the other which adjoined the kitchen area.
I asked if they allowed four people to order the Mini-Jim and the answer was, ‘of course’. There is a football season AYCE brunch on Sundays, and Tuesday night is two for 1 on chicken dinners, including chicken/rib combos.
And, for you beer drinkers (like my Milwaukee-born husband) they have Samuel Smith Taddy Porter (?) and Oatmeal Stout too. $7 the bottle. This is a big deal for a restaurant to have that brand, I am assured.
It’s 45 minutes for us to get there, and I am sure we’ll be back. After we finish the leftovers which may take a while.
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