By Jen­nifer Biggs

The Commercial Appeal - Go Memphis - - Go Eat - / biggs@com­mer­cialap­peal.com

A LIT­TLE RE­DEC­O­RAT­ING makes all the dif­fer­ence in a res­tau­rant. It’s hard to imag­ine that just sev­eral months ago, the honky tonk-ish Dou­ble J Smoke­house & Sa­loon was home to Beignet Café, which was rem­i­nis­cent of a French Quar­ter eatery.

Of course, it was home to the Tri-state De­fender news­pa­per be­fore that, and it started life as a bank. But with Dou­ble J, it’s solidly a road­house, from decor to menu. Burg­ers. Steaks. And, of course, bar­be­cue.

Dou­ble J serves baby back ribs, which are cer­tainly pop­u­lar in re­cent years. They do a very good job with them, too.

Ex­perts will tell you ribs shouldn’t be fall- off-the-bone ten­der, that you need a lit­tle bit of re­sis­tance for, oh, maybe char­ac­ter build­ing or some­thing like that — I’ve got no beef with a su­per-ten­der rib.

At Dou­ble J, the ribs are de­li­cious, with a won­der­ful crust that bursts with smoke and spice and an in­te­rior thor­oughly in­fused with smoke. They’re meaty, and plenty ten­der while still hav­ing a bit of tug.

They’re in­tensely fla­vored (though not hot), and the bar­be­cue sauce that comes with them is sweet. They are truly made for each other. The ribs are el­e­vated by the tangy sweet sauce, pro­vid­ing a stel­lar ex­am­ple of bal­ance in bar­be­cue.

Un­for­tu­nately, there’s only one sauce served at Dou­ble J, and it just doesn’t work as well with the pulled pork, which doesn’t hold up to the ribs.

I hope I haven’t stum­bled upon a trend of restau­rants de­liv­er­ing ribs sev­eral lev­els above the pulled or chopped pork, but I’ve en­coun­tered this at sev­eral places lately.

The pork is OK here — at least it has

Pho­tos by Christopher Blank/spe­cial to the Com­mer­cial Ap­peal

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