Doing it Western style

This location at Park Lane Mall has played host to several restaurants in the past. Is it really the location or the concepts that have previously failed?

Daddy Jack’s is taking that bull by the horns and trying out a new idea. In this case, the sleek, modern look of the old Metro Grill is superimposed with Western décor and given a barbecue menu billed as “Nevada Style,” ostensibly because the owners share a long heritage here.

This is not Southern barbecue, although some aspects are borrowed from it, such as the catfish and the celery seed-flavored slaw. The mix of cuisines on the lunch menu also includes a decidedly eastern Philly cheese steak. A 10-gallon hat is tipped to our Southern neighbors in the form of a quesadilla and a tostada salad.

I decided to visit for lunch one weekday, and the first thing I noticed was that the old art deco lamps still hang from the ceiling in direct contrast with the tumbleweed art and framed photos of old covered bridges. It was a quirk that was soon overlooked as I settled into a booth amid the twangs of some soulful country music. There is something about hearing a sad song about a guy losing his truck, his dog and his favorite belt buckle that really makes me hungry.

There are quite a few selections to choose from, mostly for the meat eaters in the family. That is probably OK, because few vegetarians frequent barbecue joints in the first place. For the dieters, there is the ubiquitous cottage cheese and fruit plate.

I went with the one-third rack of ribs (four ribs) for $6.95 and a side of pepper-studded cornbread for $1.95.

At Daddy Jack’s, soda is served in those cute little Mason jar glasses for that county fair feeling. I got my drink right away, but even though the restaurant was only half-filled, I waited a bit for my food.

When it did arrive, I was pleased to note that the ribs were dry, with the sauce on the side. While they were meaty and slightly smoky, the St. Louis ribs did not quite have that fall-off-the-bone quality that great ribs have. A little more cooking time would have done them some good.

Each meal comes with a choice of Nevada fries or rustler potatoes. I had to see what a “rustler” potato was. It turns out it is a baked potato cut into wedges, fried golden and topped with Parmesan cheese. Where rustlers kept Parmesan cheese in that saddlebag is anybody’s guess.

The only vegetable besides the lettuce and tomato garnish was the slaw. I know that cole slaw is a highly subjective and touchy subject, but their slaw could use a little more punch. Aside from the liberal use of celery seed, it was a bit limp and flavorless.

There is a strategy for eating cornbread: As soon as it arrives, slather it with butter and honey and devour it while it is moist and hot. Left to sit, it quickly becomes a tough bit of cornbread jerky.

The service the day I went was a little on the slow side, although congenial. There appeared to be only one server on the floor at the time. What attention I did receive was friendly, if a bit harried. It is probably best to inform your server if you are in a hurry.

So, will this place beat the odds laid down in the location’s predecessors? It is too soon to tell. In the meantime, they can keep serving their Nevada-style grub and see where the tumbleweeds take them.