It’s good to be the king, as Mel Brooks used to say.
Jack Brown’s Burgers has been the king of the local Battle of the Burgers for two years in a row. That’s an impressive feat for a small, regional chain of only 12 stores scattered across the southeast. There are a lot of burger places in Rutherford County and Murfreesboro. Dozens that either feature burgers as their signature offering or that have them included in their menus as a selection or three. Jack Brown’s has been at 113 N. Maple St. on The Square in Murfreesboro for a couple of years now, occupying a space that has served as home for two different coffee shops…The Clay Cup and later Reveille Joe’s. For now, let’s round up them doggies and get along the trail to today’s article.
As they say, “location, location, location”. Jack Brown’s has the distinction of being located in the pulsing heart of downtown, right on The Square. Businesses here seem to automatically rise in estimation of the locals loyal to this area of town. The age, character, and rustic charm of the downtown’s center mass suit this establishment well. Bovine skulls and old barn wood ensure you don’t miss the front door here. Parking is available in easy walking distance around The Square proper, or along nearby side streets. Not one, but two parking garages offer even more options. If you are handicapped, your options on the square are only a handful at best, and not easily spotted. The only negative I have for this section is that the front windows had thick black curtains drawn over them, blocking the inside view. That’s a certain part of the charm for window seating where you have sidewalk traffic. People see the lights, decor, and people as they pedestrian their way by, and those dining get to people watch or be seen as they enjoy their experience. It was after dark, so I am not sure why the curtains were closed other than they were just forgotten about in the day’s routine.
JB’s is a FUN place. Lots of whacky decor with unusual things like Jackalopes, a skeleton and Barbie sharing a bird cage, or a chandelier of bras. Lots of natural wood gives it a old west saloon feel although I hate those cheap metal Nashville starter pack chairs they use, along with 75% of every new restaurant in the last three years. They are about the least comfortable chairs in the industry, all my professionals following me should know. Maybe they are intended to move people along to turn tables quicker or something. I don’t know, but they are uncomfortable and don’t look good. No points lost for JB’s here, because EVERYBODY is using them.
The music ranged from a smidgen of classic rock, to a bunch of 90’s and R&B so there is a little bit for everyone there. We sat at a table in one of the window areas, and the lighting was so dark we had to pull out our cell phone lights to read the menu. Again, the heavy black curtains being pulled across the windows worked against this place as it made this table that much darker and the allure of sitting in a widow seat was lost. It was one of only two low tables in the building. Everything else was bar height or the bar itself. This is important to note for those with mobility issues, and I would not characterize the place as being wheelchair friendly. Its a fun atmosphere, and seems at its most enjoyable if you are having alcohol.
Our server was a young man who seemed a bit shaky. He was affable enough, though a bit disorganized. He sat down in a chair next to me, which is a common enough server practice but not one I find appropriate usually because it seems contrived. During the course of ordering, I asked a few questions about the menu and alcohol. He seemed more comfortable in people knowing what they wanted for beer than advising on what they should have. In the process of ordering, I mentioned I was diabetic and that it was the reason I had so many questions about the menu and ingredients. In spite of this, I was brought a sweet tea by mistake and later offered a fried oreo. Am I offended? Not at all. However, it was a missed opportunity in awareness. Same thing with the table area being so dark and the curtains drawn over the windows. We were looking at the menu with our phone lights.
That should have been a clue. The service overall was satisfactory, but little things like the fried oreo (for The Missus, not me!) being dropped off on the edge of the table without a word or even a pause in step and the length of time before someone who joined us was approached for an order did no favors. I could spot two people who appeared to be management. Flannel shirts if I guess right. One sat at the end of the bar with a laptop and beer and never did a table visit or addressed anything while I was there. Perhaps he was off duty. The other was a girl working behind the bar who had very little energy in her performance. The staff overall seemed a bit too relaxed. Comfortable.
Let’s tackle those award winning burgers first. Wagyu beef. We’ve all heard about it.There’s American Style Wagyu and then there’s Japanese Wagyu, or Kobe as it is sometimes called. The japanese beef was banned in the U.S. until 2012. Jack Brown’s uses “100% American Style Wagyu Beef”. A lot of people confuse the term Kobe and Wagyu as if they are the same thing. They are not. Kobe is produced from a very specific region of Japan. If it is not raised and butchered there, its not Kobe. To put it another way, All Kobe is Wagyu (Wagyu means “Japanese Beef”) but not all Wagyu is Kobe. American Style Wagyu is a superior type of beef, which comes from Japanese cattle cross bred with Angus cattle.
I like JB’s burgers. I think Wagyu is a bit wasted when you add a bunch of eccentric toppings or condiments to it. Like cooking a filet mignon well done and topping it with ketchup. But…I do like an exotic burger from time to time and their 4oz patty is just the right size for the slimmer, trimmer hippie I am trying to become.
I decided to fight in the dojo of Cobra Kai for my calorie-controlled tournament. This is a burger topped with cream cheese, pickled jalapeños and jalapeño jelly. Nice and spicy like I like it. The texture of the Wagyu was lost on me between the cream cheese and the bun. It was a good burger. Two year in a row champ of all burgers? I’ll make more of an effort next year to attend the event. Maybe the organizers will ask me to judge. Sweet potatoes are good for diabetics. Sweet potato fries? I honestly don’t know. Or rather, I didn’t. So I ordered some for a side. Unfortunately, they were overcooked. Not quite burnt, but very dark and crispy. The pickle was underneath the fries, so it was not the cool refreshing palate cleanser I was hoping for. It was hot. All in all, this meal I would not recommend to anyone with blood sugar issues. There’s really not much here that is diabetic-friendly. My blood sugar test was 158 later. I still averaged pretty good for the day, but that was higher than I like to get.
The Missus, the cheese to my macaroni, ordered the El Chupacabra! (Chupacabra means “goat sucker” and is a mythical creature originating in Puerto Rico) Goat Cheese and sweet chili bacon adorn this little treasure. Not a fan of goat cheese usually, The Missus found the flavor profile of this selection to be to her liking. Her sweet potato fries were overcooked as well.
Fried Oreos. At a dollar each, they sell themselves. The Missus enjoyed it immensely. Perhaps too much.
I found the place to be pretty clean, all in all. Nothing sticky, no globs of cheese stuck to a menu, food on the floor. Well done. I will point out that there are areas of opportunity for tidiness. Right by our table, was a stack of boxes with supplies, uniforms or something in. The area was a pile of clutter and unattractive. The back hall where the bathrooms are held extra kegs, wet floor signs, stools (not that kind of stool!) and other odds and ends. It was also the only floor that didn’t look as clean as it could be. A little attention to those details would have made this section of the review flawless.
This place is exactly what it says it is: A great bar that happens to serve a great burger. It’s primary function is not to be a restaurant. The food is basic with a really limited menu, which I find refreshing. Pick something small and do it right. Its walking distance from Hippie Haven should the mood come over me for a libation or two as well. If you’re looking for someplace to have a few beers and a bite to eat after a long day, or a nightcap after an evening at the movies or dinner somewhere else then stop in and try this place. They stay open later than a lot of other places on The Square, and they are open on Sunday when almost nothing downtown is. Props for that alone! Do I think its the best burger in town? No. Do I think its a good burger? Absolutely. Tell me what you think in the comments and share this one with your friends. Wake the kids and phone the neighbors. Its burger fighting time!
3 out of 5 peace signs. Dig it!
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“Make lunch not war”!