This review also appeared in the Florida Times-Union
It is generally hard to get me to go try a new barbecue restaurant. Barbecue is very subjective (let’s not even get into the Texas vs. Kansas City vs. Memphis vs. Carolinas battle) and can even vary from day to day at a particular restaurant. To try and mitigate these factors, I made a few visits to new restaurant 4 Bones Barbecue and convinced some coworkers to accompany me to lunch to get a range of opinions. For the most part, they were positive.
Upon our arrival to the strip mall on the corner of Beach Boulevard and San Pablo Road (anchored by Hobby Lobby), we noticed a long line inside (due to lunch counter-style ordering), which included a group of police officers — a good sign — and a tantalizing smoky aroma wafting around outside.
Ordering is a la carte: pick your meat and amount (¼ pound to 1 pound); bread type (two slices of Texas toast, which we found delightfully buttery, or two cornbread muffins, which were a little dry; the breads are included in the price) and then add as many or as few sides as you’d like for $2.49 each. I liked this better than the typical barbecue “meal” of meat with two sides included, as I will eat whatever starches are placed in front of me, but can easily limit myself to ordering just one. “What a silly complaint, just order the vegetable,” you say? For this reviewer, if it comes down to mac and cheese vs. green beans, the Jolly Green Giant will lose every time.
I went with the brisket cheese steak ($9.99: brisket, roasted onions and bell peppers, provolone) from the “Specialty Sandwiches” section of the menu, and chose corn nuggets as my side. Pick brisket as your a la carte meat (starting at $4.99) and 4 Bones allows you to select the cut: lean, fatty, or a mix. I thought the brisket might have been sliced too thick (making the fatty cuts a little too fatty) and only average-tasting but, honestly, I have yet to find really great brisket in Jacksonville (any one have any suggestions on this?).
The corn nuggets, basically fried creamed corn, were a hit around the table. Other enjoyable sides included the hand-cut fries and the mac and cheese, the cheese and seasoning blend making it not just cheesy but flavorful.
Servers would definitely benefit from handing out numbered table cards when an order is placed, or at the very least, yelling out order numbers to the crowd. We had at least three “is this yours?” stops at our table during lunch.
Housemade barbecue sauces include sweet, hot, vinegar-based and mustard, which we found watery on our first visit but seemed much improved on subsequent tries. I liked mixing the sweet and hot sauces to top off tender ribs (starting at $5.99) and pulled pork (starting at $4.99).
New curbside service makes it easy to swing by to pick up dinner, and 4 Bones has a selection of “family meals” ranging from Dinner for Two ($19.99) to The Party Pack ($119.95) to feed 10-12.