Sunday, May 8, 2011

Sloppy Joe's - Ridgeland

I completely missed Sloppy Joe’s the first time I drove past it and the second and the third and so on. It wasn’t until my family was eating at Ding How for the holidays that I noticed it. Driving out the parking lot, my dad asked what that small building was and seeing the name Sloppy Joe’s and remembering that building was once a Seattle Drip, I said it was some new, local coffee joint.

After quickly becoming of out of sight, out of mind, I was on the way to pick up crawfish from the Crawfish Hut when I decided to take a closer look at this coffee shop. Upon closer inspection, I quickly realized Sloppy Joe’s was a small, drive-thru sandwich shop.

A few weeks later, Sam and I were looking for something a little different for lunch. I suggested we try Bonny Blair’s Irish Pub. After checking their website to make sure about the hours, we began the annoyingly long drive from downtown Jackson to Old Fannin Road. Imagine my frustration when we arrived in the strip mall parking lot to find Bonne Blair closed. Infuriated that this pub would be closed at one in the afternoon, I pushed past the anger and tried to think of lunch spots nearby. Suddenly, Sloppy Joe’s popped into my mind. Always game to try something new, Sam was quick to agree and we drove across the spillway to Old Canton Road.

Pulling up to the window, we were quickly handed a few menus. Sloppy Joe’s has a decently sized menu with four major sections, sandwiches, on a bun, po-boys, and salads. While a few items did stand out, we decided to take full advantage of their menu. Unfortunately, there was some initial confusion. The guy taking our order didn’t seem to understand that I wanted every sandwich from the “po-boys” section and every item from the “on a bun” section. After repeating the order three or four times, the message was conveyed and the wait began.

Twenty minutes or so later, the order was ready and we returned to my office to see just what we had ordered. Eight Styrofoam boxes holding eight separate sandwiches, the eponymous sloppy joe, pulled pork, bacon cheeseburger, chicken bacon ranch, the Cuban, New Orleans roast beef, Philly cheese steak, and the Italian, it was the mother lode. We just had to decide where to start first.

The Cuban with chips was up first.
With it’s pronounced griddle marks and overflowing with pork, the Cuban set the bar pretty high.
Although the bread had lost its crispiness in transit, the pork was juicy and salty and nicely balanced by the acidity of the mustard and pickles.
Unfortunately, the Cuban was the worst place to start as it was all-downhill from there.

Even though I’ve never gone out of my way for a sloppy joe, there’s something satisfying about a poor man’s bbq sandwich.
True to their word, Sloppy Joe’s serves their namesake on a jumbo burger bun.
Eerily reminiscent of ketchup, I liked the sizable pieces of bell pepper and onion in this sloppy joe. I would have preferred a little more vinegar but it’s a fine sandwich.

Dressed to the nines and topped with bacon and perfectly melted cheese, the bacon cheeseburger at Sloppy Joe’s was promising.
In truth, the less said about this burger the better. The bacon, save for salt, was flavorless.
The patty was dry, overcooked, and devoid of any real beef flavor. This part of the menu is best left alone.

If there’s anything the Philly Cheese Steak at Sloppy Joe’s proves, it’s that you really can’t find a good cheesesteak this far south.
Provolone I’ll let slip, but mayo on a Philly?
For beef that’s been marinated in au jus, this was a sandwich of parched meat.
At least the bell peppers were a nice touch, but spicy cherry peppers would have been better.

As the lone bbq-centric item on the menu, I was a little suspicious of the pulled pork.
Sure, it said it was hickory smoked, but if you were going to take the time to bbq pork, wouldn’t it be featured on more than one menu item?
While this “on a bun” selection did have a very meaty filling, it was missing the unctuous texture and ingrained smokiness of high quality bbq. The sweet, thin sauce was functional and expected for Jackson, but it’s nothing to get excited about.

The chicken bacon ranch “po-boy”, with lettuce, tomato, ranch dressing, cheddar cheese, bacon and grilled chicken, it had potential to be both a heart and show stopper.
I do love how if you slap anything on French bread, it can become a po-boy.
You can use all the bad bacon and ranch dressing you want, but you can’t cover up the flavor and texture of dry, overcooked white meat.

When I saw the New Orleans Roast Beef po-boy on the menu, I knew this would be a sink or swim moment for my opinion on Sloppy Joe’s.
Right away, I could tell this po-boy would sink like a stone. When the menu promises roast beef in gravy, I expect a messy sandwich that is ready to capsize from gravy overload.
I’ll admit there actually was a decent gravy hidden in this sandwich, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the perpetually dry beef. When will people learn that if you’re going to serve dry beef, you’ve got to have the gravy to cover it?

Rounding out the po-boy section of the menu, the Italian was the last sandwich of the day.
Frankly, there’s nothing wrong with this po-boy. It’s little more than premade sliced meats on French bread.
I would have liked to see some different Italian meats, maybe some coppa, cappicola, or lomo, but aside from a little bit of runny Italian dressing, this po-boy of ham, pepperoni, and salami was a decent end to my first time at Sloppy Joe’s.

Simply because I’m a glutton for punishment, a few weeks later, I paid another visit to Sloppy Joe’s. I had the foresight to call my order in this time so it was pull up to the window and head back to the office, no waiting involved.

Having tried the majority of the sandwiches at Sloppy Joe’s, I couldn’t help but revisit some of my favorites starting with the Cuban.
Honestly, the Cuban is the best thing on the menu at Sloppy Joe’s. The mayo and mustard make for an oozingly good topping to sizeable amounts of ham and roasted pork.
The tartness and crunch of the pickles still beautifully contrast the porcine richness, and this Cuban is really just a great sandwich.

As for the eponymous Sloppy Joe sandwich?
This is still a solid sloppy joe. The big pieces of onion and bell pepper provide just enough crunchy texture and flavor.
It still may be too sweet and inundated with ketchup for my tastes, but I won’t turn down a sloppy joe from Sloppy Joe’s.

Last time, I didn’t pay much attention to the sandwich section of the Sloppy Joe’s menu, so I delved into that section by ordering a classic club.
This was a double decker monstrosity. Packed with ham, turkey, bacon, Swiss cheese, cheddar cheese, and mayo stacked on grilled wheat, this was a family size sandwich.
I loved the crunch of the grilled bread, but the whole thing was too greasy to really handle. Unfortunately, the whole thing was still tinged by the taste of lackluster bacon, but a pretty rich club sandwich overall.

While there may have been a few more sandwiches on the menu and even an entire section of salads, I think my two visits gave me a pretty good idea of what Sloppy Joe’s has to offer. Honestly, I was pretty underwhelmed. Outside of the Cuban, sloppy joe, and Italian, the rest of the “on a bun” and “po-boys” sections was pretty disappointing. However, if the club is any indication, the "sandwich" section has potential. That in mind, Sloppy Joe’s is certainly worth a visit, you just have to pick through their menu carefully. I know that I’ll be back if only to enjoy their Cuban sandwich once again.

Sloppy Joe’s Address & Information

6961 Old Canton Road, Ridgeland, MS // 601.672.2553

Sloppy Joe's on Urbanspoon


Cristie said...

I didn't give it as thorough a try as you did, but I totally agree with your assessment. Sloppy Joes is just an okay place, but not great. I do want to go back and try the Cuban, though.
Thanks for the review. Other webpages out there don't give truly unbiased critiques of Jackson food, and I'm glad there is someone out there who does.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

The Cuban has one failing: he uses Kraft processed cheese "Swiss flavor" instead of even a cheap pre-sliced Swiss-style cheese like Sargento. It shows, too. If it were topped with a decent cheese, it would be a pretty good Cuban.