Jimmy’s BBQ, Malvern (Frazer)

February 14th, 2009

Westgate Plaza
309 Lancaster Avenue
Malvern Pa 19355

Overview: Authentic Southern barbecue. Eat in or take-out. BYOB. What more do you need to know???

Food: Jimmy’s is the real deal, with pork, ribs, chicken, brisket and more slow smoked on the premesis over hickory and cherry wood.

Three sauces are offered — Traditional (sweet), which is what you get if you just ask for sauce, Carolina Vinegar (which is more like a vinegary ketchup & sugar-based sauce you find in Texas than what you’ll get in NC), and Hot, which we have not tried but looks like a spicy version of the traditional. The standard sauce is way to thick and sweet for our tastes, but the vinegar sauce is quite good.

The pulled pork platter is served in torn chunks (not chopped), just the way we like it, and has a great smoke flavor. Our serving was hearty and even included quite a bit of the “bark”, or the highly seasoned outside of the shoulder. The pulled pork sandwich wasn’t quite as good, as the meat was chopped more finely and seemed a bit slim on the bun. It’s ok for bread to control a sandwich with a great french or italian artisinal loaf, but this is barbecue bread. Pile on the meat!

Ribs were dry-rubbed, just the way we like ’em, with more great smoky taste. Though they weren’t the most tender ribs we’ve had, they mostly fell off the bone and tasted great with a dip of the vinegar sauce.

Though we don’t typically advocate ordering chicken at a BBQ pit, Jimmy’s unique chicken could just steal the show here. It’s rubbed with rosemary and lemon, which matches greatly with the cherry smoke flavors infused during cooking. Again the sandwiches could use a bit more meat, but the flavor here is all good.

Now, let’s talk sides. Jimmy’s mashed sweet potatoes are some of the best we’ve had at a barbecue joint, because they aren’t overloaded with sugar. He lets the natural flavor of the veggie shine through, and the mashed-but-lumpy texture is just right. Another winner is the mac & cheese, something we typically don’t get excited about, yet somehow kept reaching for more of Jimmy’s. The smoked beans were solid, but unspectacular, and perhaps a tad sweet. The coleslaw was the one disappointment from a side perspective; it was somewhat bland and underwhelming. Though slaw is an absolute requirement with barbecue, we’ll likely skip it next time for sweets or mac n cheese.

Ambiance: There really isn’t much — bright, open room with a big pig graphic on the wall, and, well, that’s about it. Casual, comfortable, great for families. Hey — this is a barbecue joint — the ambiance is the people and their messy fingers, not the decor.

Service: Friendly and helpful. The staff has seemed a bit overwhelemed at the response, but that seems to be getting better as they get more experience. Again, a casual, friendly spot.

Value: As is typical with barbecue joints, they give you a ton of food for a decent price. As mentioned above, we felt the sandwiches were a bit thin, but the platters pack more than enough food to fill your belly.

# of visits:2
reservations: not needed (counter service)
bar: BYOB
website: jimmysbbq.com

12 Responses to “Jimmy’s BBQ, Malvern (Frazer)”

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  1. abcd says:

    All the meats had nice smoke flavors. I had a brisket, which was quite dry and a bit tough since it is so lean. Sausages are very good and flavorful as well as chicken.

    For me, I was very disappointed with their sides. Cornbread was very dry. We had potato salad which actually had RAW potatoes. Some reviews raved about mac n cheese, but for me they are very oily.

    I would go back there for the main entree and will hold off on the sides from now on.

  2. Pete R. says:

    Absolutely the best bbq in the area. I’ve been at least 3 times now and have never been remotely disappointed. I have an incredible weakness for the pulled pork platter, but I’ve also had the brisket and found it comparable to what I’ve had in Kansas City. For sides, I always order the mac n’ cheese and the smoked beans, both of which are absolutely amazing. Jimmy is a really friendly guy and is more than happy to engage you in some good conversation. Today, he even gave us a tour of the smoker and explained how he slow cooks the meat for over 12 hours. He’s really proud of his establishment as he should be. The man is an absolute bbq artist. I can’t wait to go back!

  3. Joe Bernard says:

    For everyone who says the meat is dry, it’s because (like EC said) Jimmy’s is not completely consistent with putting out tender, juicy meat. I’ve eaten there too many times to count, and 95% of the time it is amazing. I’ve had the pulled pork, brisket, and and ribs. The first time I had pulled pork it was somewhat dry but the next time it was great. I’ve had the ribs once and they were really good. The brisket is my go-to item, it’s all I ever get now. It is very tender and juicy, melts in your mouth, and it is more than good enough to eat on its own. I never use BBQ sauce because I don’t like it, so it’s good to know that I can get great BBQ and not have to put something on it.

    The owner is very nice, he is always going around and asking people how their meal is and if they need anything. If the place is not too busy, he (or the other employees) brings your order to you and gets you a drink. Everyone who works there is very helpful and answers any questions you might have. For those who had bad experiences there, just voice it to the people working there at the time. They will compensate you, I got a free brisket plate because they messed up my order one time; the brisket was the best I’ve ever had.

    If you want super tender and juicy meat, order what you want as a take-out. That way, they will wrap the meat up tight and all of the juices will soak the meat and make it extremely tender. I’ve done this when eating there and it has worked well.

    Jimmy’s- keep it up! I will always get brisket from you.

  4. Matt says:

    I finally ate there last week and was pleasantly surprised. I had a pulled pork sandwhich which had some nice bark and was packed with meat. About 20% of the meat was a bit dry, the rest was juicy. The ‘table’ sauces were average and could use some tweaking for my tastes. Cornbread was overly dry and crumbled upon contact – not good. Room is bare bones and menu is small and striaghtforward. All in all, a worthwhile place to go. I will be back, need to try the ribs and the chicken.

    Spoke to the owner for a few minutes, very nice guy. He was greeting almost every guest in a fairly full dining room for a Tuesday.

    Glad to have this option in the area.

  5. Pulled pork fan says:

    I’ve had the chance to eat at Jimmy’s twice now and I am looking forward to the day when I am back in the area so that I can make it my 3rd trip. I am a big fan of pulled pork and enjoyed this sandwich on my 2nd visit along with the coleslaw. Great taste and the pork was not dry, I did add some sauce because this is what I enjoy – great taste and messy! My first trip there I enjoyed the combo of chicken and pork. The chicken was done perfectly, not dry and very tasty. I had plenty for ‘take home’!
    Now the sides…love, love, love the sweet potatoes and smoked beans. My family and I also shared some starters – grilled sweet sausage with cheese and the smoked bacon, both which were delicious.
    I have to point out that on both occasions the owner, Jimmy, came around to each diner to make sure all was good. He took the time to ask and listen to each reply. My question to the Memphis relocate is why didn’t you give him your feedback while on site?? I’m sure Jimmy would have taken the time to talk with you.
    A word to Jimmy and his crew – keep up the good work and I hope to be in the area again soon………..

  6. Ms. Miller says:

    I have no Memphis roots to lay claim to, but I sure do like to eat. The brisket sandwiches at Jimmy’s give me reason to leave the comfort of the city and travel to the wilds of the Main Line. And the sides are a close second; I’ve made the trek often (as recently as Saturday, when I brought two friends who left happy). I will admit that I’m not a pulled pork fan, so my comments are brisket-based, only. One thing I can’t understand about the review from the “Barbeque Expert” is: if you got a dry piece of meat, why didn’t you just call Jimmy over and let him know? If you have expert advice to share, it seems that the friendly atmosphere in that place would allow you to have an exchange with the owner and have your opinions heard. Come on, now, we’re every bit us hospitable “up here” and if you want to teach the Yankees a trick or two, I bet the folks at Jimmy’s would listen. Just put the attitude on hold for a bit. And as for the difference between Wet and Dry? I don’t see how Jimmy’s explanation of “dry” differs from Big Bob Gibsons: “in Memphis the two different camps are partisans of either dry or wet preparations. Wet ribs are daubed with sauce before serving. Dry ribs can have either dry rub added prior to cooking or a seasoning blend applied after cooking. Either way, no tomato-based sauce touches a dry rib from Memphis.” (http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/30686511/)

  7. Barbecue Expert says:

    As transplants from Memphis, TN, my wife and I have missed having good, or even decent, barbecue as a dining-out option. Unfortunately, after our trip to Jimmy’s we’re still looking for someone up here who can barbecue. While Jimmy’s may have earned “Best of the Mainline” honors, I can guarantee unequivocally that he wouldn’t stay in business in Memphis, or any other self-respecting Southern town that knows anything about barbecue.

    As some of the other reviewers have noted, the pulled pork is dry. The reason it is dry is because the temperature of the pork shoulder isn’t kept at an even temperature while it’s smoking. Also, they are basting the shoulder incorrectly when it’s smoking and as a result, the outer layer (rind) is thick and hard, but the meat loses all of its juices and becomes a dry hunk of something on which one might choke. The realization that there is a lack of fundamental knowledge by the people at Jimmy’s was furthered by overhearing Jimmy “explain” to some customers his “understanding” of what makes the difference between wet and dry ribs. It was grossly incorrect to the point that we laughed. I didn’t try the ribs, but based on Jimmy’s errant comments about rubs, they won’t be any good either. So, there is no one remotely close to a pit master at Jimmy’s.

    The “sauce” is best described as horrible, all three versions (regular, hot, and vinegar). A good sauce should compliment the meat. The expectation with pulled pork is that the meat should be good enough to eat on its own; it isn’t at Jimmy’s lest you choke for want of moisture. If the meat is substandard (see prior paragraph), the sauce should be able to balance things out. Unfortunately, Jimmy has devised a sauce that is way too heavy on the molasses (or whatever he uses to overly sweeten it with). The sauce is terribly sweet with little smoke flavor. It’s overly runny. When my wife sampled the regular sauce prior to deciding which to put on her sandwich, she reflexively said, “Oh, that’s horrible.” We used the vinegar sauce only because it was the least offensive. A store bought brand of sauce would serve better than the stuff Jimmy is pushing; that’s a horrific statement to someone who knows barbecue.

    The mac and cheese was good, as others have said. The beans weren’t bad. The soda fountain produced some dependable lemonade.

    To those looking for barbecue, keep looking. Perhaps Jimmy and friends should open a macaroni and cheese shop.

    • EC says:

      From the reviewer’s name and the treatise on Barbeque it seems that this review has more to do with trying to demonstrate an equaled knowledge of barbeque than a review of Jimmy’s. It is hard to believe the reviewer has any insight into how Jimmy bastes his pork shoulders. Was the pork dry for the reviewer’s tastes-perhaps. I would say that Jimmy’s does at times struggle with putting out consistent products from my visits. It is something the chef/owners should be addressing better. As for sauce-(i dislike most myself), it seems that it is a highly subjective; a matter of personal taste. Honestly if you are drowning your pork or brisket in so much sauce that it the result is super-sweet, i’d argue you are using way too much sauce.

      From the crowds i’ve witnessed at lunch and on weekend evenings at Jimmy’s, I’d certainly say things are far better than the reviewer claims. OR maybe everyone who seems to be enjoying the food are “nothin’ but dumb-a*s Yankees!”

  8. G H says:

    Had lunch there with a friend recently.
    As mentioned, the pulled pork was very dry.
    The cornbread was also really dry. I had to take a drink with every bite to get it down, taste was rather bland as well.
    Mac & Cheese was ok. I didn’t have the beans but my friend did and liked them.

  9. […] There’s “real barbecue” on the Main Line now with the opening of Jimmy’s BBQ in Malvern. [Main Line Restaurant Guide] […]

  10. Amanda N says:

    Ate at Jimmy’s a few weeks ago on a Fri. night. Great chicken, brisket, baked beans with bacon, and dirty corn. It was smokey sitting inside but I heard he is working on fixing that. I will be back there soon.

  11. John Lauber says:

    Ate there with the family because Mino’s was full. We could smell the smoke from across the parking lot though. We had the ribs and pulled pork. The pulled pork was a bit dry (and not because they serve it that way). The ribs were a more grissly cut. Nice smoke ring, some juice, but a bit more connective tissue than I’d like. Unfortunately, they were out of cornbread already (7pm). The mac/cheese was very good as was their smoked beans. Also, the dirty corn salad which was very tasty. The cole slaw was decent. Their BBQ sauce was good, though we prefer a more vinegar based sauce. It’s only been 3 weeks, so they may still be getting up to speed on a few things. 3 out of 5 for now.

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