4705-H Clairemont Drive, Clairemont
Lightnin’ Jack’s (4705 Clairemont Drive) has some things going for it, not the least of which is the movie deal: 10 percent off if you show a same-day movie ticket from the Regal across the way. The restaurant’s front window proclaims the fact loudly, via a big banner. As spaces go, Lightnin’ Jack’s is curious. It’s in a huge, towering building, but the actual restaurant is small and cozy, with red gingham tables and seating for maybe thirty.
The other advantage is one of generosity. Less than twenty bucks gets you a “meat sampler,” a veritable mountain of roasted and grilled meats, towering high atop a styrofoam plate. It’s enough food for two hearty eaters, three with a couple sides added, and includes brisket, chicken, pork ribs, beef ribs and half a hot link split lengthwise. Oh, and there’s a piece of corn on the cob, too.
Seldom has a plate of food so fiercely imposed itself. A meat monolith, or a sacrifice to some pagan carnivore god.
Jack’s cornbread, surprisingly, is good enough to warrant a special callout. Tender, sweet, and cakey, the cornbread comes out of the kitchen piping hot with a generous portion of sweetened butter on the side. Hungry moviegoers could make a killing out of a few sides of cornbread and a cheap-o basket of “rib tips,” the little chunklets removed from the ends of spareribs.
The downside is that “roasted” is much more accurate than “smoked” to describe Jack’s meats. The unimpressive smoker in the kitchen doesn’t do a good job of infusing the meat with the rich, smoky flavor that epitomizes good ‘cue at a place like the Wrangler. Jack’s also doesn’t quite get the tender slow-cooker style of a BBQ House, and the meat comes out too tough and chewy, demanding undue mastication. Rather than “the meat falling from the bone” (the tried and true barbecue adage), it’s more like peeling meat from a bone, which satisfies some primal urges, but gets old fast.
This...This right here...This is what happens when you try to put the rush on some ‘cue!