I was in the city near Grand Central Station around 10:30 in the morning. After being up for 6 hours with no breakfast in me, I was ready to eat. For some reason, I thought Brother Jimmy’s Express in Grand Central Station’s food concourse opened at 9:00, so I was ready to eat. It turns out they opened at 11:00, so I was ready to wait.
Brother Jimmy’s Express looks like any typical food court operation. You order over the counter and take your food to a common seating area. The menu is pretty extensive for the small outpost of the mini chain, with the majority of the key items available. You can get ribs, brisket sandwiches, North Carolina and South Carolina pulled pork sandwiches, and even a few appetizers. Beer isn’t available.
I just wanted something to tide me over until lunch, so I got a North Carolina pulled pork sandwich, with baked beans. I added cole slaw for an extra 50 cents. The male twentysomething server didn’t look too reliable, so I had to double check to make sure he gave me a fork. He didn’t, so I asked him for one before I walked away. I should have made sure the cole slaw was included too, because I found out later it wasn’t. There weren’t any napkins either, but they give you a high quality moist towelette, a la Daisy May’s and Blue Smoke.
So I took my sandwich and sides and found a good spot to eat. I wasn’t all that optimistic. A few years ago, I tried Brother Jimmy’s in their short-lived Cambridge MA location. Then, I summed up the operation to friends as “first rate waitresses, second rate service, and third rate food.” A food court version of Brother Jimmy’s wasn’t exactly the best spot to change that opinion, but it was the least painful in terms of time and money.
Anyway, the pulled pork sandwich came slightly warm on a fairly fresh Kaiser roll. It didn’t have the vinegar sauce I was expecting to make it North Carolina style, but they did supply small containers of vinegar and their chipotle barbecue sauce. Both were surprisingly good. I sampled the pork by itself and it was fairly peppery, almost like pastrami. There were pink chunks of meat and they were reasonably tender, and only slightly moist. Not the best pulled pork sandwich I ever had, but not the worst, either.
The baked beans were just OK, with some pepper and vinegar to spice up what looked like the canned variety. The cole slaw (which I came back for) consisted of equal parts cabbage and mayonnaise; it was awful.
The bottom line: the food wasn’t great, but it did exceed my expectations. For this combination of food and service, though, I think I’d rather go to the other Brother Jimmy’s locations, where I can at least drink beer and enjoy the eye candy.