B.J. Ryan’s BANC House – BBQ & Crab; 16 River Street, Norwalk, CT
New England is known for its seafood, and in recent years, it is also becoming known for its traditional-style BBQ. B.J. Ryan’s BANC House (BANC stands for BBQ-and-Crab) is located in downtown Norwalk, CT, in the midst of the busy business district on River Street. They are heading into their eighth year of serving up regional BBQ and crab favorites, along with a large assortment of appetizers, sides and homemade desserts. They also sell their own line of sauces for you to enjoy at home.
I discovered this restaurant while scoping out “Groupons” for a Christmas gift for my hubby, Dave. He loves his BBQ – both eating and smoking his own on our backyard smokers. We decided to head down mid-afternoon on a Saturday for a late lunch/early dinner when it would be less crowded. And it was – when we first arrived we were the only ones in the dining room. Our server was pleasant and described the various dishes for us.
Starting with appetizers, Dave had to try their Poutine, which is French fries covered in gravy and cheese curds. We added the optional beef brisket to top it off. It was served in a large bowl with lots of gravy and melted cheese. The brisket was tender and had just the right amount of smoky goodness. The gravy wasn’t as thick as we’ve had on other Poutine but still tasted quite good.
I wanted to try the Giant Nug Crab Cocktail that I had seen on their website. The lump crabmeat was tender and the three sauces were all tasty (Dijonnaise, House-made Cocktail and, especially yummy, the Chipotle Aioli).
While everything on the menu sounded wonderful, we decided on the Smoked Meat Sampler, which supplied an ample offering of all of their smoked treats (St. Louis Ribs, Baby Back Ribs, Lazy Bacon, Beef Brisket, Pulled Port, Pulled Chicken and BANC House Sausage). We added sides of Skillet Cornbread, Mac N Cheese and Beale Street Beans with Pork. The cornbread was served in a small cast iron skillet, giving the edges of the bread a nice crunch. It was served with a side of maple dipping sauce that added a nice sweet touch to the cornbread. The Mac N Cheese was creamy goodness with a blend of several cheeses and a light topping of bread crumbs. I don’t like beans, but Dave thought the pork was the best part.
The Sampler Platter – the main event. Everything was nicely smoked – but not too smoky. The flavors of the juicy meats came through in every case. The Baby Back Ribs were the more flavorful of the two styles of ribs, though both were yummy. I had never had Lazy Bacon before – it was leaner than I expected and was almost like a pork jerky, but tender.
While this platter was meant to serve two, it could easily feed four with the sides. We brought home enough food for another full meal. Needless to say, we did not choose any dessert!
Will definitely return to try some of their other menu items. Prices were in line with other BBQ restaurants we’ve visited (the Sampler Platter was $29.95). They do offer a Kids Menu with nine selections at $7.95 each, and a nice selection of salads and sandwiches in addition to entrees. Their “Prohibition Menu” has an extensive selection of cocktails, bourbon and whiskey tastings, wines and more.