Favorite

BJ's pub grub stands out 

It's a chain worth trying.

click to enlarge dining_review1-1.jpg

Because of our focus on home-grown dining options, we don't review many chain restaurants here, but we decided to make an exception in the case of BJ's Restaurant and Brewhouse. BJ's comes to Arkansas with a large menu of house beers at a time when interest in craft beer is growing, and while nothing we tried at the large Shackleford Crossing restaurant will turn us away from local options like Diamond Bear, Vino's or Core Brewing, we were pleased with both the food and the drink that the California-based chain is serving.

The BJ's menu is big, with page after page of beer, drinks, appetizers, main courses and desserts — so big, in fact, that we were a little intimidated when it came to ordering. We decided on a beer flight of four 5-ounce tasters ($6.50) and the BJ's Frito Nachos ($7.25), because what better way is there to prepare for a beer-drinking session than scarfing down a glorified Frito chili pie? Did we say glorified? We meant glorious — a piled-high combination of chili, cheese, Fritos, sour cream and bacon (yes, bacon) that is not cardiologist-approved, but certainly tasted good. As for the beer, we were particularly fond of the Harvest Hefeweizen, a light, crisp wheat beer that went down smoothly, with a bright citrus flavor. The other beers in our flight, the LightSwitch Lager, Jeremiah Red and Brewhouse Blonde were all decent, if not memorable, although fans of Bud Light or Coors will find a lot to like here.

After the massive Frito concoction and our first four tasters, we were already getting full, and our next dish, BJ's Favorite Pizza ($15.25 for a 9-inch) sealed the deal. This deep-dish pie was piled with meatballs, pepperoni, onions, Italian sausage, mushrooms and black olives, all resting atop a crisp, buttery crust and served in a deep-dish pan. We're not normally fans of deep-dish pizza, but this was a tasty pie, with the Italian sausage coming in as our favorite ingredient. We paired the pizza with the HopStorm IPA ($2.25 for a 5-ounce taster), and were impressed by the malty richness of the beer, but we feel obligated to tell certified hop-heads that this is perhaps the mildest IPA we've ever tasted.

In addition to the pizza, we wanted to try another bar classic, so we ordered a Crispy Jalapeno Burger ($10.25), and were again impressed with the food from the brewhouse. This was a large burger with pepperjack cheese and crisp-fried jalapenos, but where BJ's really won our hearts was with the perfectly cooked medium-well patty, something we can't normally get on a consistent basis from even our best Little Rock burger joints. The thin french fries served with the burger were mostly forgettable, and our beer pairing, the Tatonka Stout, was our most disappointing brew of the day. We liked that the stout was poured from a nitro tap, because we're big fans of the creaminess that nitrogen adds to beer, but this beer was a one-note song, and that song consisted of overwhelming notes of sweet chocolate and burnt coffee — things that are good in moderation but here took over.

Our final verdict? After going into this review somewhat suspicious of a chain restaurant with such an extensive menu, we have to admit that we very much enjoyed BJ's Restaurant and Brewhouse. As at other chain breweries we've visited, the beer at BJ's isn't all that challenging, but that can be a bonus for beer lovers who want to introduce friends and family to the world of craft beer. The food, while fattening, was really good, and we were particularly impressed with the restaurant's skill with cooking our burger the way we like it and getting the pizza crust just right in terms of the balance between crispy and chewy. The place stands out from similar chain restaurants like Applebee's, TGIFriday's or Chili's, and will be our go-to restaurant of choice for whenever we have a diverse group of people with varying tastes who need a place to eat.

Favorite

Comments (2)

Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

Readers also liked…

Most Shared

  • World leaders set to meet in Little Rock on resource access and sustainable development

    Next week a series of meetings on the use of technology to tackle global problems will be held in Little Rock by Club de Madrid — a coalition of more than 100 former democratic former presidents and prime ministers from around the world — and the P80 Group, a coalition of large public pension and sovereign wealth funds founded by Prince Charles to combat climate change. The conference will discuss deploying existing technologies to increase access to food, water, energy, clean environment, and medical care.
  • Tomb to table: a Christmas feast offered by the residents of Mount Holly and other folk

    Plus, recipes from the Times staff.
  • Rapert compares Bill Clinton to Orval Faubus

    Sen. Jason Rapert (R-Conway)  was on "Capitol View" on KARK, Channel 4, this morning, and among other things that will likely inspire you to yell at your computer screen, he said he expects someone in the legislature to file a bill to do ... something about changing the name of the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport.
  • Fake news

    So fed up was young Edgar Welch of Salisbury, N.C., that Hillary Clinton was getting away with running a child-sex ring that he grabbed a couple of guns last Sunday, drove 360 miles to the Comet Ping Pong pizzeria in Washington, D.C., where Clinton was supposed to be holding the kids as sex slaves, and fired his AR-15 into the floor to clear the joint of pizza cravers and conduct his own investigation of the pedophilia syndicate of the former first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of state.
  • Reality TV prez

    There is almost nothing real about "reality TV." All but the dullest viewers understand that the dramatic twists and turns on shows like "The Bachelor" or "Celebrity Apprentice" are scripted in advance. More or less like professional wrestling, Donald Trump's previous claim to fame.

Latest in Dining Review

Visit Arkansas

View Trumpeter Swans in Heber Springs

View Trumpeter Swans in Heber Springs

Magness Lake, in Heber Springs, is a magnet for swans

Event Calendar

« »

December

S M T W T F S
  1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31
 

© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation