Wes Hennings never met a meal he walked away from and is an opinionated eater! Each Thursday, he shares the results of a business lunch he’s had with a colleague as a way to advise our business community on the good, bad, and the tasty across the CSRA. He doesn’t let ABD or the restaurant know where he is going and his opinions are his own. He grades the restaurants he visits on a 1-5 scale with “5” being outstanding. We call this our “Real Business Lunch Review”.
Food Quality: 4
Business Meeting: 3
Average Score: 3.75 out of 5
In an attempt to boost the bank account during golf week in Augusta, I signed up to drive folks who were lucky enough to get tickets around town. I ended up on the end of North Augusta which I don’t frequent often and regularly passed a sign that caught my eye – BJ Country Buffet. I was born in the country, and while I am thoroughly city-fied, I am a fan of delicious country cooking, so I decided it was time to give it a try.
I pulled in and had flashbacks to when I first moved to Augusta, this was a Mexican restaurant where I would frequently attend trivia in my younger, single days. But apart from the appearance that this building used to be a Shoney’s or similar restaurant, the environment has been well transformed to fit the country theme. You pay for your meal as you walk in, like most buffets, and then have access to the troughs.
I feel like any time you go to a buffet, you will compare it to the Golden Corral, or if you’re of a certain age, Ryan’s from back in the day. While the offerings at BJ are not as robust, all the staples are there, and the quality is definitely similar to the big players. There’s fried and baked chicken, beef tips with rice, and even country-fried steak. Your veggies are plentiful with staples like green beans and corn on the cob, but also some less traditional fare like rutabagas. They also offered green bean casserole, which I see so rarely anywhere that’s not a Thanksgiving table. And of course, they have tacos. Because all buffets have tacos, despite the overall theme of the restaurant.
You sit down with your plate and hand your receipt to the server who brings your drink and checks in regularly. It’s here I realize that BJ (which apparently stands for Baby Jane) is a popular place. Upwards of 90% of the tables were occupied for this weekday lunch, and it seems very much the crowd you would expect at this type of establishment – an almost even split between blue-collar workers and a senior crowd, who may have already been having their early bird dinner at 1:00 pm. (Apologies if that offends. I just liked the joke, but I also genuinely like spending time with our older generation, even over a very early dinner meal.)
I ended up making three plates of food on this trip, a sacrifice to make sure I could have a sampling for all of you fine readers. The fried chicken was a find. The meat was well cooked and the breading flaky and tasty, so it was some of the better chicken I’ve had in town. As far as the entree goes though, the roast Boston butt was the star of the show, and the country-fried steak had a nostalgia factor for me from the cafeterias of my youth, despite the gravy being a bit watery. The beef tips over rice would also serve as a fine meal.
The green beans were fine, but the casserole form was not as great, as the onions were chopped large and thus, didn’t cook through. The corn on the cob was probably my favorite side option, and the mac and cheese was tasty as well. The cornbread was fine, and of course, I had to choose peach cobbler as my dessert. Not the best I’ve had, but it definitely satisfied my sweet tooth.
There’s also a typical salad bar. It didn’t seem to have anything special, but did offer pasta, potato, and macaroni salad if you are inclined to those.
So the conclusion? BJ is no BS. I was surprised to find a pretty good homestyle buffet on the end of Martintown Road less traveled. And at a better price and similar quality to the bigger buffet players, I recommend it. Is it an impressive business lunch? Probably not. But there are plenty of workers who seem to like it. I’m one of them, and chances are you would be too.
BJ Country Buffet
611 E. Martintown Road
North Augusta, SC