In the summer of 2011, I paid a visit to B.J. Ryan’s B*AN*C House, a BBQ and seafood based restaurant in Norwalk that had just opened its doors. It is no secret to anyone I know or to anyone that read this article http://connecticut.cbslocal.com/2011/08/03/bank-on-the-banc-house-for-authentic-bbq/
That piece received a good amount of views. It was also posted on this blog and B*AN*C House’s website. But I had to go back. One reason is obvious, I liked my food that day and the overall experience. However, there was one problem. Friends of mine, some whose opinions I trust, claimed to have terrible experiences. I heard everything, from “Disappointing,” to “The service sucked,” “The food took too long to come out,” and even “My boyfriend’s steak was tough.”
I was shocked and angry that I had written a good review and this was what I was hearing. I refused to believe that a place could fall so much so when the Groupon deal for $25 for $50 worth of food came up, I jumped on it. After I bought the deal, I asked my grandmother, who easily likes dry rub BBQ more than I do, to come along.
I had so many questions before going back. Were all the bad “reviews” true? Did I review this place on the right day? Did everyone else just catch this place on a bad night? Has the food suffered as a result of B*AN*C House’s staff slacking? Or was everyone else just wrong?
I went in expecting bad. Instead, I got what I received the first time, good food and good BBQ. This time I ordered a few appetizers, the bacon wrapped, goat cheese and honey stuffed dates, and the B*AN*C Bread. Those bacon wrapped dates were amazing. Everything with bacon is better but I loved the saltiness of the bacon mixed with the sweet of the dates, and the creaminess of the goat cheese. This app is a must order, but it is a shame that you only get four. I could eat 50. The bread was delicious too. On my first visit a couple at a table next to me was shoveling the grilled garlic bread with gorgonzola fondue down like a couple of duck pond ducks and suggested I try it sometime. So I did. Even though it was filling, I would rather pay to eat this bread than eat free bread at most places.
Last time I tried pulled pork, baby back ribs, and half a chicken. This time I went for B*AN*C’s “I Don’t Dig on Swine,” a sampler of non-pork meats. It included brisket, pulled chicken, and two short ribs. Everything on the plate was tender, moist, and well seasoned with their dry rub. The pulled chicken made for an excellent sandwich the next day. My only complaint was that the coleslaw was a little bland. My grandmother had no trouble downing an entire rack of ribs. I guess that about sums up her review.
What has taken me so long to get at here is this…I still like B*AN*C House. I like it better than Jeff’s and better than Bobby Q’s. I’m not sure what my friend’s tastes are, maybe they are used to BBQ that is heavily sauced. I’m a dry rub guy and always have been, I like to taste the smoked meat, not a bottle of BBQ sauce and I get that at B*AN*C House even if others do not.
The service was acceptable as well. I like to spend a good amount of time at dinner, and dislike when places throw plate after plate at me, time between apps and dinner is a good thing. But never did I feel that the wait was excessive. If you had a problem with the service, maybe you went on the wrong night, or you like to eat everything at once.
I have to throw in a shout-out to our waiter who knew about BBQ and talked food with me for most of the night. I dig it when the staff knows what’s up. I even mentioned some of the stuff I was hearing about their food and service and told him what I just told all of you in this post. That conversation also involved Buckley Ryan’s brother, who remembered me from my CBS summer review. Ryan thanked me for coming, and I thanked him then and will thank him again now for the comp of the awesome and homemade key lime pie and fresh coffee.
Give this place a chance. If you dig dry rub, this is still your place.
B.J. Ryan’s B*AN*C House
16 River Street
Norwalk, CT 06850