Dining Out: Jazzy John’s BBQ is smoky, tender

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Why: Jazzy John’s BBQ serves Oklahoma-style barbecue, which is said to blend the best of major regional styles. Instead of boiling the meats, the restaurant slow-smokes them with hickory wood and most are absent sauce when served. Jazzy John’s offers the same type of selections as other barbecue stops, dished out to satisfy a hearty appetite — meat by-the-pound, barbecue sandwiches and ribs, plus a few exclusives such as Smoked Beef Bologna and Smoked Brisket Chili.

Atmosphere: The spacious dining room is decked in black and white checks and accented with red and yellow. A jazz music motif is tastefully present but not overdone. Tables and chairs supply enough seating for a moderate crowd and a roll of paper towels atop each table suggests a somewhat messy dining experience. A piano occupies a portion of the space — on hand for occasional live music.

What I tried: For my lunch visit, I decided on the Okie Reuben sandwich with a side of house-made coleslaw.

The sandwich is made with Texas toast, Swiss cheese, coleslaw, Thousand Island dressing and beef brisket. Barbecue sauce is not added to the sandwich, but an apple-cider-vinegar-based sauce comes as a side if you want to add it or use it for dipping.

I found the ingredients were well balanced and the flavors that accompanied the meat were complementary to the delicious smoky taste of the meat, which was also very juicy and tender. I opted to leave the barbecue sauce off because I preferred the smoky essence of the meat to the vinegary sauce, though the sauce was good.

The coleslaw was fresh and crunchy, and a generous addition of ground black pepper distinguished Jazzy John’s recipe.

Menu highlights beyond what I tried: Jazzy John’s has a barbecue salad made with romaine lettuce, shredded carrots and cheddar cheese, which can be served with either chopped beef brisket or pulled chicken. The salad comes with ranch dressing on the side.

A Family Pack contains a rack of ribs, one pound of meat, three pints of sides and six pieces of Texas toast. This feeds four to six for $45, and for $6 more you can add a Whole Buttermilk Pie.

Other observations: The only downside to my meal was the amount of fat on my sandwich. It wasn’t excessive but I would have preferred less. Every other aspect met my expectations and the staff was friendly and efficient.

Cost: A pound of meat ranges from $9 to $12 and a half-pound is $5.50 to $7. Sandwiches are $6 to $8. A special section on the menu caters to kids, offering a choice of Pulled Pork, Pulled Chicken or Smoked Bologna with Beans and Texas Toast for just $2.50.

Hours: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday. 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday through Saturday.

Where: 512 N.E. 81st St., Vancouver.

Online: http://jazzyjohnsbbq.com.

Health score: Jazzy John’s BBQ received a perfect score of zero on March 23. Clark County Public Health closes restaurants that score 100 or higher. For information, call 360-397-8428.