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Jun 30, 2001 07:30 AM

Jack's Down Home Diner for dinner?

  • d

Anyone have dinner there? The only mention I've seen about dinner there has been a review commenting extremely negatively on it.


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  1. We had dinner there once. Once was enough. It was mediocre, and that's being kind.
    There are so many wonderful places to eat nearby - I wouldn't waste my time there.
    I'm convinced that the great press Jack always gets for his restaurants is that he's really a nice guy.

    10 Replies
    1. re: Sylvia

      So what would you recommend in the same price bracket nearby?



      1. re: Doug Weller

        Close by is difficult for "American" food; you are really in/near Chinatown and Asian restaurants. If you don't mind a bit of a walk and prices slightly higher, try
        Chloe, 232 Arch St.
        Marco's, 228 Vine St.
        Both these places have small and large plates, so you can put together something not too expensive.
        Sansom Street Oyster House, 1516 Sansom St. (really good fish and seafood and they always have a three course special with four choices of entree for about $17.00)
        We haven't tried the new Italian restaurant at 12th & Filbert, but it's probably decent.
        Some of these may not be open on Mondays. I know Chloe isn't.
        Maybe other people will come up with more ideas.

      2. re: Sylvia

        The great press Jack gets is because he pays a LOT of money to an agency that specializes in restaurant PR. He also gets the trickle down effect from being on the Food Channel. I wouldn't bet my last meal on it being about "being nice"...I have enough acquaintances in the business that have been his employees to know otherwise. I had an opportunity to work for him and politely declined.

        1. re: Katie Benes

          You are so wrong.

          Press: As far as I know Jack McDavid hasn't used a PR firm for 5 years or so. He gets press for two reasons. First he is a great write - always something interesting or contraversial. Second, he knows food and far more often than not does an excellent and professional job preparing and serving it. There has always been resentment among other restaurant people because of the national press Jack generates (as much or more than any other area chef/restauranteur).

          Nice Guy: I've know Jack since he's opened the Down Home Diner. He is a great guy and a great friend. I doubt any restauranteur in Philadelphia, with the possible exception of Judy Wickes, has done more for charity, the needy, the homeless, than Jack. Jack's employees stick with him for either days or years, there seems to be no middle ground. He is very demanding and has no tolerance for the mediocre. For a few years he was taking apprentices from the CIA and they were lining up to work with him. Jack uses his temper the way a Marine Drill instructor uses his boot to a recruits rear. It gets instant attention and instant results. If, a few days later, that same employee ends up in jail after a night's drinking, Jack will be the one there with the bail, and making some phone calls to try to get everything settled amicably.

          As to dinner at the Down Home Diner, depends what you're looking for. If you want ethnic or creative cusine it's not the place for you. If you want rural American Cooking, you'll do quite nicely.

          Holly Moore


          1. re: Holly Moore

            Please be clear that I never commented on his charitable works. No question that you are correct about that. Jack McDavid is undoubtedly a driving force in this city, region, and nationally for feeding the hungry. I speak only about being an employee of his from the (limited) statistical sample of individuals that I know - none of which (that I know of) has been bailed out of jail by their employer. The boot sargeant analogy is an accurate one, to my knowledge. I think you misunderstood the limited gist of my original post. There are a lot of charitable minded folks I wouldn't necessarily want to work for. That's all I was getting at. If being "nice" were the ONLY qualification, there are a lot of restaurateurs (and individuals as well) that aren't getting the press they deserve.

            1. re: Katie Benes

              If your sole message is that Jack is a demanding and difficult chef to work for, that is fine, and true. However I'm not sure what it has to do with whether or not a person should eat at the Down Home Diner.

              But your initial post stated and implied a lot more, much of which was inaccurate. That is what I was responding to.

              Holly Moore


              1. re: Holly Moore
                George Miller

                I've eaten at Jack's several times. Comfort food heaven, as perhaps William Grimes of the NY Times might call it. Depending on your view of comfort food, that can be taken positively or negatively. But my last experience there was more easily classified. I sat alone at the counter, right in front of the kitchen, a few feet away in classic diner style. Because of the acoustics I could hear everything the chefs were saying as they prepared the food. Fortunately/unfortunately, they didn't realize that. What I heard was pretty raunchy language to be sure, but the worst of it was that they were actually making fun of the appearance of the people at the counter, most notably me! This is in stark contrast to the very nice, friendly waitresses, by the way. But perhaps needless to say, I haven't been back and won't be.

                1. re: George Miller

                  oh, man, what a nightmare! did you say anything?

                  1. re: Jim Leff
                    George Miller

                    No. I didn't say anything, Jim. I just felt sad. There seems to be a kind of brash cockiness there, a kind of ego problem, maybe from all the publicity. And I'm sure this place will eventually sink of its own weight, judging from the thread and other word of mouth stories I've heard. I don't know about you, but I've rarely received much satisfaction by complaining in a restaurant. And in this case, I'm not even sure what satisfaction would've meant. I'll just be grateful to be able to share things like that once in awhile in forums such as this.

                    1. re: George Miller

                      I know how you felt. That's the opposite feeling one goes to a restaurant for, and it cuts to the quick.

                      I was once refused service at a Dominican restaurant for being a gringo. I was so shocked, I felt, for two days afterward, like I'd been mugged or beaten.

                      The answer, when this sort of thing happens, is to go hit the pavement and find somebody really kind, care-ful and talented who's cooking his/her heart out. And go there a LOT and support them and make them feel appreciated.

                      Finding the good guys and sticking up for them takes more work and dedication than brooding over the bad guys, but it's every so much more satisfying and productive.