Just before Christmas we popped along to the new Jackson & Rye restaurant in the City. An American food joint certainly makes a change from the plethora of steak houses and gastro pubs in the area, and being only a few streets away from the office we were keen to check out this new addition to the local food scene.
The restaurant is suitably kitted out for the smart location, with a big bar at the entrance stocking an impressive range of spirits, followed by the larger than expected main restaurant which is over two levels with an elegant staircase as the centrepiece. Wooden panelling, dark leather booths, low lighting and art deco styling is certainly more upmarket than we expected, and gives the feeling of a 1920s cocktail bar rather than a bbq and burger joint.
The drinks list mirrors the interior, with a good selection of cocktails, many of which include the restaurant’s signature rye – an American whiskey with a big smokey flavour. We decided to start with the rye old fashioned, which came pre-mixed in individual miniature metal bottles served in ice, ready for you to pour into your glass at the table. I’m sure many cocktail aficionados would say this is not an old fashioned as an old fashioned needs to be stirred over ice, but I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they did this at the bar before decanting it into the bottles. Either way it was a great bit of theatre, and I hope it continues as you often find these fun little touches disappear after places have been open a while and they no longer feel the need to differentiate themselves to attract customers. We tried a selection of the cocktails while we were there, all of which were good, Stef particularly enjoyed the peanut butter martini dessert cocktail, which tasted like a reece’s peanut butter cup.
As a pre-starter we ordered a couple of the nibbles from the top of the menu – jumbo shrimp, which were big juicy fresh prawns served with a deliciously sweet and smoky sauce (better than your bog standard marie rose for sure!) and popcorn chicken, tasty little morsels of chicken breast coated in a tasty crunchy seasoning. Both enjoyable, and the kitchen accidentally sent us a second batch of the popcorn chicken – instead of taking it away when we said we’d already had one they just gave it to us on the house, no quibbles. Let me take this opportunity to comment on the service. One of the best things about this restaurant was the excellent service. Everyone we encountered was helpful, friendly, enthusiastic, but not so much that it felt fake or forced, just a genuinely welcoming bunch with no pretence. All the food came quickly and was served with a smile. Shout out to Alex our fab waiter who gave us great tips on the menu and the drinks, and was generally lovely all evening!
Following our nibbles we shared 3 starters (we have to try as much of the menu as possible don’t we?). The truffle mac and cheese was beautiful. Creamy and cheesy, with a lovely hint of truffle running through that did not overpower the dish. The crunchy kale topping was a nice touch to add a bit of texture to the dish. Yum. The wings was a huge portion for a starter – definitely a sharing dish if you want a main! They were big juicy wings fried in a crunchy coating, with a selection of sauces – buffalo, smoky bbq, and blue cheese – which is nice if you like a bit of variety. The best of the starters though had to be the salt & pepper squid. This came served on top of some crispy fried vermicelli noodles, with a sesame and lime sauce on the side. Alex informed us that the whole dish is supposed to be eaten together (as opposed to ignoring the vermicelli as a bit of garnish and dipping the squid in the sauce). He recommended we pour the sauce over the top and toss everything together for the full experience, and boy was he right, it was delicious! So fresh and light, very different to the usual dishes you expect to see on an American menu.
For mains we shared a fillet steak and a beef short rib. The steak was excellent quality and cooked to perfection. Melt in the mouth tender rare beef – a baby with no teeth could have eaten that steak. The short rib was coated in the house sticky rye bbq sauce also beautifully soft, slow cooked and falling off the bone. The level of smoke and amount of sauce were perfect, as I often find this sort of slow cooked smoked dish can be overpoweringly smoky or drowned in bbq sauce which ruins it.
The desserts, while enjoyable, were probably the least successful part of the meal. The sticky toffee pudding was unremarkable. The sponge was moist but the sticky toffee sauce was rather thin and tasted quite bitter, as if it was burnt, which was a shame. The pecan pie was ok, soft sweet and syrupy as you’d expect but not mind blowing – however the maple bourbon ice cream on the side was spectacular, which kind of just showed up how meh the rest of the 2 dishes were.
Overall a really good experience at Jackson and Rye – we’d definitely go back, and the great staff really made the evening!
Forked by Tolibear