In my time in Lexington, and in conversations I’ve had regarding BBQ, I’ve come to realize that several people believe that all Lexington BBQ is created equally; therefore, all Lexington BBQ taste pretty much the same. This narrow view is shared by many and these people are just misinformed. Case in point, Henry James Family Dining, a restaurant located on Talbert Boulevard in Lexington. From the outside, Henry James looks like an old Taco Bell that’s been remodeled; inside it’s reminiscent of a Shoney’s with a fast food counter. The place is unsuspecting, and when you take your seat you’d never know how sinister the restaurant really is.
The waitress was sweet enough, taking our orders and promising satisfaction. We ordered the BBQ, especially after the menu boasted that it was “Lexington’s Best Barbeque.” Zach ordered a classic coarse chopped sandwich, and I decided to mix it up by ordering a brown sliced plate–brown meat is the dark meat of the pork–and mac and cheese instead of fries. Brave, I know.
Now before we go forward, you should know that Henry James specializes in “homestyle cooking” as well as BBQ. You’ll see typical Country favorites on the menu like a meat and two veggie plate, baked spaghetti, seafood, etc. I glanced at other reviews on my phone while we were sitting in the restaurant and got a sinking feeling. Most customers couldn’t stand the place. Looking around at the clientele, it was mostly families with kids and senior citizens. The food is cheap, quick, and easy to gum.
At first glance our food didn’t look bad, but it’s all in the taste. Zach’s sandwich was cold and my “hickory-smoked” meat was terribly sweet. The slaw was inedible–it tasted like sugared cabbage. The hushpuppies were under-fried, which is a damn shame. Last but not least, the mac and cheese was obviously from a bag/frozen. At first the meat was decent, I could eat it despite the overall sweetness, but by the fourth bite it was all over. After that bite you realize the meat tastes like sweet bile, and no one is going to save you from this nightmare.
Now the cornerstone of Lexington BBQ is the smoky sweet/sour vinegar flavor that comes from hours of chimney smoking in a special sauce. I was told my meat was smoked, but I have my doubts. The sauce was sweet in a disgustingly evil way. It’s sad that we spent money on this flop. Even sadder was the ride home when I realized I was probably going to have to vomit later.