Pork Bracket Round 1: Germantown Commissary vs. Captain John’s
It’s time for game two of the Pork Sandwich bracket, and this time, it’s a battle for suburban glory. Let’s meet the contestants!
First, we have the Germantown Commissary, a staple of the suburban barbecue scene that gives old Germantown that charming pork smell.
And the challenger, Captain John’s, a Collierville diner that’s all barbecue, no seafood (as the name would seem to suggest).
The Commissary sandwich is a three napkin sort of meal. It has a giant pile of barbecue and a ladle-full of sauce situated on a bun that’s not quite large enough to keep everything contained. While I was eating, I kept losing meat or getting sauce all over my hands. Whatever – it was delicious. The meat was super tender and smoky. The sauce on top was the perfect amount to compliment the meat, but not overpower it. (7.5 points)
In contrast, the sandwich at Captain John’s was the easiest one to pick up so far. That’s not to say that they scrimp on the meat or sauce, they’re just mindful of how much a bun can reasonably handle. The pulled pork was delicate, though there were a few stray tough bits that required extra chewing. The sauce-to-meat ratio was dead on. (7.5 points)
Commissary’s sauce is surprisingly spicy. It brings out the best in the meat, but finishes with a nice, firm kick in the tongue. (8 points)
Captain John’s reddish brown sauce was thinner than Commissary’s, but it was more pourable than watery. The flavor was a little sweet and a little spicy. It’s not super fancy, but it definitely gets the job done. (7.5 points)
The fries at Commissary were good, but not consistent. Some were perfect, some were entirely too soft, and some were completely brittle. They tasted alright, but with fries, texture is key. (6 points)
Whoever Captain John is, he must have a perfect French fry ray gun or something. Every fry on my plate was the absolute right texture – crispy on the outside, soft in the middle. They weren’t quite as hot as they could have been, but that’s my only complaint. (8.5 points)
There’s a real contrast in service between the Germantown Commissary and Captain John’s.
At Commissary, I was told to have a seat anywhere and a waitress would be with me shortly. After about 15 minutes (and at least three trips through the dining room where she didn’t notice me), one finally showed up to take my drink order. It wasn’t just me, though – I watched several people start to get up and leave before a server finally came over to them. I don’t mind waiting a little bit, but it’s nice if the waitstaff at least stops by and says that they’ll be with me shortly. (5 points)
There was no such issue at Captain John’s. I placed my order at the counter and was given a number. I barely had a chance to sit down before my food was ready. The service is speedy, efficient, and polite. (8 points)
I was at Commissary during a weekday lunch rush. The narrow side dining room was bustling, the World Cup was playing on a tiny, wall mounted TV, and business people on their lunch breaks were eating quietly. The walls are decorated with Germantown artifacts and memorabilia, which sort of makes the place feel like a dimly lit, indoor Oaklawn Garden. (7 points)
Captain John’s isn’t nearly as cozy. The dining room is utilitarian – it’s the sort of place my granddad would have taken me to eat when I was little. It’s important to note that while the restaurant is named for Captain John, it’s not clear what John is the captain of. Industry, perhaps? The smoker, maybe? The good news is that there’s no nautical themed decorations. Also, Captain Jack’s is free of smiling pigs, which earns it an extra half point. (7.5 points)
My meal at Germantown Commissary (a regular sandwich, side of fries and a drink) rang up at about $9. (7 points)
Captain John’s had a special on sandwich plates today, so my sandwich, two sides and drink totalled at just over $6. (8.5 points)
Winner: Captain John’s (with 47.5 points). Though Germantown Commissary was tasty, the little things (service, price, fries) just didn’t add up.