Location: Legal Beans BBQ, 5 Division St, Jersey City, NJ
Cost of this Monstrosity: $8
Number of Cows murdered: 3.5
When you read the name Legal Beans, you imagine a small coffee shop, probably in a gentrified area of the city, with outdoor seating and ones of yuppies and hipsters enjoying a cup of java. As you approach the place, nestled underneath I-78 East in an area only a hobo could love, you start to see a clearer picture (or at least I do): this place has to have the best food you’ve ever had in your life! Many a pork joint has been housed in a ramshackle, run down hut of a building, where the smell won’t wake the neighbors (John’s Pulled Pork in South Philly comes to mind), and as with that institution, the trip is often more than worth it. Literally, in my case.
Cook Chris and I took a trip to Legal Beans so I could try this pulled pork sandwich($8, generous) he had warmed to, and though I didn’t quite try his recommended option, I think that I picked the next best (and biggest) thing: the brisket and chopped beef sandwich ($8, gigantic). It was practically 3 inches of piled-high beef upon beef, dropping with juices and aromatic with flavor. It was a sight to behold, once all of the oil soaked out of sight.
The best part of the sandwich was that it’s basically three for any normal person (meaning for the likes of Chris and I it was a bit more than one), though I don’t know if it was because the place was getting rid of some excess cow, or if they tried to make up for quality with quantity. Not that they needed to, as both cuts of beef were juicy and tender to the teeth, and would’ve fallen off the bones if there were any. Lightly spiced and lightly smoked, the beef flavors were left to come through, as opposed to slathering it with red sauce (not that some BBQ sauce isn’t delicious).
The brisket was reddish brown and burnt on one side, searing in the taste of the rub, and the chopped beef was left in juicy cubes that managed to grip the potato roll pretty well. Both types of meat managed to slide right out of the sandwich and onto the foil, which didn’t bother me because it just means continued sandwich-y goodness tomorrow! A bigger man may have been able to finish the thing, meat intact, but a bigger man would also not be able to walk to the place to buy it in the first place, so…yeah.
If I had to grade this sandwich on a scale of one through five (wait, I do, dammit!), then it’d get a solid 4.5 spatulas from Shef Steve. The tender, juicy, flavorful beef was well worth the price at half the portion, and the overflowing mound of flesh only cemented it’s value to the dollar-conscious consumer.The flimsy roll knocked it down a peg (the menu advertised an artisan roll, but unelss the artisan was named Strohmann…), and the lack of au jus (or jus period) means I have to knock off a half a peg. The cole slaw that came included was unique, as it was made with white grapes diced amongst the cabbage and eggplant. It’s not a choice that anyone should have ever made, in my opinion, but it was unique nonetheless.
I’d say that it’s definitely worth a trip through the seedy side of JC for a sandwich of this caliber, granted that you bring a bindle to appease any bums sleeping on the bench outside. That is, unless you don’t eat beef, in which case this thing is an unholy affront to your very being. Too bad you’d have to miss out on one of the biggest (if not the best).