Tuesday, February 1, 2011

No power, well then it's time to eat out--Jackie's

I was already starting make dinner last Wednesday when the heavy snow falling altered my plans. I actually kept at it with candlelight since we have a gas oven and stove top, but it got to be too much. I covered the prep work I had completed, threw it in the fridge for another night and we headed out into the 'hood to see what we could find.

I first called Olazzo, no answer and also tried 8407 before we left the house. Again, no answer. While disappointed, I appreciated the break the restaurant gave to their staff. I'm sure driving home after a very slow night would have been a mess (not even mentioning getting to work).

We headed up Bonifant and saw our old stand-by Thai Derm had its lights out and the same for Mandalay. While we were about to turn around and settle for Baja Fresh, we passed some of our neighbors who just finished a meal at Jackie's. They said the restaurant was planning to serve for another hour and than they were doing a deal, $25 for an entree and either salad or starter. OK, that made up our minds (thanks Lane and Steph).

We trudged over in the snow and the restaurant had a small, but lively crowd. We were informed of the special and also saw that several bottles of wine on their list were going for half price. OK, this is nice. While we would end up spending a lot more than say Baja Fresh, this would be all right since we'd get a very nice meal, wine and fodder for a new blog post. We had visited Jackie's right after their new chef took over and I wanted another visit before I did my 'review.'

We scanned the wine list and the waiter recommended a nice pinot noir that was going for 50% off. It was a 2008 pinot from Oregon called A to Z. The waiter claimed it had good structure. Can't really say exactly what that means, but it did have a nice bouquet and we liked it a lot. We wouldn't have ordered it at full price, but certainly glad we did at half price.

We then made our choices for the $25 special. My wife started with some lightly fried cauliflower with a romesco sauce and I tried the charred octopus.

Before the apps arrived a basked of bread was brought to the table. While the butter was tasty and easily spreadable (hate it when the butter is essentially a frozen block), the bread was completely lackluster. No real body, no real flavor, easily forgotten. But our starters came soon thereafter. They were both good, but not great. The cauliflower itself was nicely done; it was a very light breading and fry on each of the florets, but the romesco lacked any real punch. I expect romesco sauce to be much bolder than what was served here.

And my charred octopus was actually undercooked. I have cooked squid and octopus enough that I know it takes some skill to do it properly. But I assumed Jackie's would get it right. But not in my book. It was too chewy. I love seared/charred octopus, but this one didn't make the cut. The fingerling potatoes that came with it were nice and the foamy sauce was really good, but as Ming Tsai would say, the 'hero' of the dish was disappointing.

Next up came our entrees. And at least I am happy to say, the meal started slowly, but ended on a high note. My wife ordered the mustard-crusted lamb shank (rather Flintstonian in size) and I tried the Meyer's strip loin.

While at least in my opinion the lamb was quite good, it was not as tasty as the strip loin. This was a pretty thick cut, prepared nicely at medium rare and was really tasty. We ended up sharing our dishes and both were pleased with each. The lamb was served with bok-choi, red potatoes in a rosemary sauce and my loin was accompanied with broccoli and a potato prepared 2 ways, twice baked and then old-school style with bacon bits, sour cream and chives. Reminded me of a prime rib joint where I worked in college. I liked both preparations.

So I am not sure I would go as far as Tom Sietsema has and award Jackie's 2 stars. I think our meal this trip and our previous one was too uneven for that. While the previous one was several months back and frankly I can't remember much about it, what I do remember is our apps and entrees not being served hot. They were all brought out not lukewarm, but not as hot as they should have been. Again, we expect more from a place like Jackie's.

But hey, I am not a real restaurant critic; I'm just a guy with a blog. So maybe you should be the judge. Either way, if you haven't been, or haven't been in a while, you should probably check out them out for yourself.


jag said...

Any idea if the $25 deal was just because of the weather or is it a regular occurrence on certain days/hours? TIA!

Anonymous said...

Jackie's is still very inconsistent. The food choices are more interesting, but for the money it's not that great a value. I hate that, too, since I'm in their 'target' demographic and can afford to be a regular. A $100 meal should feel like a $100 meal.

socoblogboy said...

You know I meant to ask if the deal was due to the snowstorm, but forgot. The server certainly did not say it was a snow event deal. And the 50% wine was definitely not due to the snow.

And agreed about consistency. A $100 meal should feel like you're getting your money's worth. Even with the $25 meal deals and the 1/2 off wine we still dropped more than a C note when you include the tip. Not sure when we'll be back.

Anonymous said...

It's amazing how many $100+ meals (for two people) I've had at DC restaurants that haven't felt like $100 meals -- seems to happen way more often than not. I hate to be a downer, but I do think that DC has a disproportionate number of overpriced, yet mediocre restaurants. Nonetheless, these restauants still seem to do good business because of the relative affluence in this area.

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