Jack's Bistro in Canton
Read an article about this place in the Sun paper. It looks like the chef has worked at some good local places (Red Fish, Salt), and the menu items listed in the article looked very interesting and pretty reasonably priced. Has anyone tried it, and if so, am I right to be excited? Thanks, Hounds...
Sure the chef is adventurous, but inspiration only takes you so far. I took my girlfriend here on the recommendation of a friend whose ability to make aesthetic judgments I generally find to be sound. I'm rethinking that assessment after dinner here.
Clearly the chef has some training, but the dishes are so over the top that they ignore generally accepted truths about what actually tastes good. Sure it's innovative to pair Ahi Tuna with Pop Rocks, but who cares when it doesn't really taste that good. It's well presented, but it's not really worth $10. There's nothing terribly thematic going on in multiple dishes, making our attempts to create a total meal experience kind of fruitless.
Conversely, my girlfriend had the "Thanksgiving" appetizer and while it rocks the duck for the sake of its being exotic, she claimed it was bland.
The "Vegetarian Bento Box" was adequate, but nothing special. Exciting on paper, but boring on the palate.
I recognize that this place is going for Haute Cuisine, but there are still some rules that shouldn't be broken, and this place simply doesn't seem to remember that simplicity goes a long way. Everything we tried sounded interesting in theory but was ultimately a bit disappointing, executed with mediocrity. Named ingredients definitely tell you why the dishes cost as much as they do. I just wish the kitchen cared enough to do more than play Mad Scientist and present us with food a little bit less like typical Cantonites; pretty but ultimately shallow.
Top that off with VERY indifferent service, and this place squarely gets a "would not recommend to friends" in my book. Your server shouldn't be reading the paper in the corner, and the hostess shouldn't be porking up and flirting with the bartender at the bar when my beer is clearly empty.
Yet another Jack's Bistro review....
But, let me add some caveats first. Both my dining partner and I are more along the lines of good little dive-y find type diners, AND I'm writing this after having to take two Pepto-Bismol's this morning after my dinner last night.
Despite the fact that I'm not into trying out the restaurant flavor-of-the-month, and, that Canton, despite being close to where I live, is a neighborhood that I studiously avoid, I was intrigued enough to give this place a try.
We decided that it was best to arrive early, esp. for a Friday night. (And, glad we did, we got there at 6.30, and even had a choice of tables.) The staff was great, although they pretended later in the evening not to get too miffed at us as we stayed at our table for two hours, while people were lining up at the bar....(And, they tried to clear the dishes just about as soon as we placed our forks down, despite the fact that we weren't finished!)
Given that Argentina was on the brain from their 'regional' specials, I ordered one of the two malbecs that were on the wine list. (It was the cheaper one.) We were pleased with the wine and the price! (BTW, speaking of Argentina, I didn't quite get their 'Argentine' inspired salad....It's not the kind of food I've ever had there....)
We started with the mushroom soup. I'm not too into cream soups, since they remind me of hot milkshakes, but we both thought it incredible. If anything, it was too rich....and, just a bit thicker, and they should have provided crudites and crackers for it to be used as a dip. We both did love it at the time, and could see it, along with a nice salad, for a perfect lunch.
My friend wanted to try the mac & cheese with chocolate, despite the fact that mac & cheese is not a food that should be messed with. Despite our misgivings, (and asking for the chocolate 'on the side!') we both really enjoyed it, and thought it worked.
My friend paired this with one of the salads, the romaine one with blue cheese and apples, and was underwhelmed to say the least. It wasn't bad, just not any big deal. I got the veggie bento box (but substituted tomatoes from the sides menu for the potatoes, for an extra $2.) Maybe I'm a food philistine, but I just didn't get it. Was there a theme to this? How were these different flavors supposed to go together? I did think the swiss chard was incredible, and the beets were very, very, very good (but, I think beets are so naturally good, that's it's pretty hard to go wrong with them.) The mushrooms were pretty ho-hum, and the tomatoes, while they weren't the bursting in flavor farm fresh ones (despite being 'vine riped', but, yes, I understand that it's not tomato season) were seasoned well. And, for some reason, after the HEAVY mac & cheese & chocolate and the mushroom soup, the veggies were also HEAVY, since it was obvious that there was a HEAVY hand in the kitchen with the olive oil.
But, still, I didn't get it, and I couldn't help thinking that maybe they just should have included a make-your-own bento box deal....pick four sides, any sides! (And, when we got there, our server told us that if we didn't see something we wanted on the menu, just ask, and they could make it....A bit confused, we were!)
We ended with the lavender and pink peppercorn ice cream. (Oh, how I wished that it was a lighter sorbet!) Intense flavors, yet a great way to end the meal.
Had I not felt the need for Pepto this morning (actually, I felt the need for it shortly after leaving the restaurant) I'd probably try to be back during the week for some of the specials. And, while the food was well-prepared and innovative, there seemed to be no let up for the incredible richness of all the dishes.
As it stands now, well, I'm glad I tried it, but I'll continue searching for the perfect ethnic and dive-y little finds around town!
Baltoellen, have you been to Al Pacino Cafe on Cathedral in Mt. Vernon? That seems to fit the bill of ethinc and dive-y. It's also BYOB, which makes it a cheaper experience, and the service is never rushed.
I love to go there when I want to decompress, sit for hours without feeling bad, and enjoy the company of my dining companion. Plus, I love the middle eastern app platter (hummous, baba ghanoush, feta/tomato salad, grape leaves, and falafel) for a little taste of everything. And their pita bread rocks--warm and toasty, fresh out of the oven.
I love their lamb schwarma, yellow lentil soup, and and their pizza is quite yummy. I don't think I've tried anything else off the menu, and don't feel the need to.
Sorry Jack's was a bit too rich for you, but I'm glad you tried it, too!
Just got back from trying this place for the first time, and it is definately going to be in my list of go-to places! Truffled mash potatoes, lobster cake, yum-yum-yum. Service was friendly (and we got there not much before the kitchen was supposed to stop making dinner). Wine list was decent & bottle prices were down right cheap. So wanted to try the lavender peppercorm icecream but was too stuffed. Will be back often!
According to the myspace page which Hon, below, so kindly provided, it appears that the lobster does change weekly. Yum Yum. Chef's risotto also sounds like he gets to decide what to do....hubba hubba! And check out that Sunday bar special! That's a helluva bargain for that quality of food.
Tuesday - Pretzel night with choice of toppings
Wednesday - Lobster night with different preparations weekly
Thursday - Chef's risotto night
Sunday - $12 entrees at the bar
Another enthusiastic "yes!" for Jack's Bistro. I'd give it an 8/10, and my dining companion also independently arrived at that. They had very solid food and great service. Some of the dishes lacked that "this is the penultimate flavor pairing I have ever had" which is all that it would take to make it a 10/10.
We arrived around 8 on a Saturday night and were immediately seated. There was one empty duece and 1-2 empty booths in the bar area. It was thumpin', but not packed to the gills. We were seated right in the middle of the back room, which took a few minutes to get used to. The servers don't have a lot of room to navigate around you, and they're doing it so delicately that I felt sorry for them. (I used to be a Tazmanian Devil-type waitress.) It also was a bit loud, my date misunderstood what I said once or twice. Though that was probably soley due to the screaming baby next to us.
To deconstruct our dishes:
Dirty martinis. PERFECT. Icy glasses, not too gin-ny, not too briny. That barkeep nailed the perfect balance. 9/10, because they should have garlic or blue cheese stuffed olives for this type of 'toony.
Shrimp in white wine. We felt that the creamy white wine sauce lacked a little bit of depth. We both would have added a bit more salt (caveat: we both like salt). He said a splash of sherry would be nice, and I would have added a kiss of cayenne to it for that depth. I also would have grilled the pita a bit more. 7/10
Hungarian mushroom soup. WOW. So rich, so nutty, so mushroomy. One spoonful was enough to send me over the edge. Paired with the Syrah, that would be my idea of a perfect lunch. 10/10
Salad with romaine/apple/bleu crumbles/candided bacon. Excellent pairing of tastes. The salad was so lightly dressed, the flavor of the lettuce shone through. That's great for mesclun and greens that have some body to them, but romaine is so light. All this dish needed was a splash of champagne vinegar--that would have hit it out of the ballpark. The bacon was amazing. 8/10
Hake with olive tapenade on a bed of white beans. It was the special of the night, and damn good. Fish cooked perfectly, as were the white beans. (Did they use a pressure cooker? Whoever did those beans, kudos, chef! They were perfect.) There weren't a lot of sauces, just goodness of the ingredients. 9/10
Veggie bento box. In order of my favorites: Swiss chard. PERFECT! Crunchy, just enough olive oil and salt. Looked gorgeous with the red and green. I will go back just to order this chard. I am so glad they have it as a side! I will eat it every time I go. 10/10
Roasted beets. Both red and golden, very tasty. Could have used a sprinkle of coarse sea salt and coarsely ground black pepper. Also, I got to wondering about the skin. Can you roast the skin of a beet so that it's chewy and adds texture, like with a good baked potato? I love it when a restaurant introduces me to a new food that I want to make at home. 9/10
Mashed potato with carmelized onion in the middle, sprinkled with panko. Panko was a great idea for texture. The mashers were creamy, buttery, and yum. The onions got a little lost in here. I think if they cooked them with more assertive flavors (brandy? wine?) they would have stood out more. 9/10
Mushrooms. After the mushroom soup I was drooling at the prospect of the mushrooms but was disappointed. (Caveat: I lived in Russia where we ate freshly picked wild mushrooms full of flavor, unlike the 'shrooms in the States that generally taste like cardboard. So I'm usually disappointed with mushroom dishes here.) They were a little too one-note for me. Just tasted of lemon juice. And not woodsy enough. I would have cooked them in the water of reconstituted chantarelles or shiitakes to infuse them with more mushroomy taste, then also added wine or brandy for an additional layer. I also would have liked them a little more with sauce. There was literally no gravy/water/mush juice in that part of the plate. My date ate them all up, he loved them the way they were. So, to each her/his own. :) 6/10
Lavender/peppercorn ice cream. It wasn't on the menu, but we asked for it and it was AMAZING. 10/10, baby! We both agreed that it was the best of everything we ate. That's the sort of flavor pairings and masterful execution our palates like. Hubba hubba. The cookie was a perfect touch.
I generally hate drip coffee, but they have no espresso so got it. Great cup of coffee.
Service was top-notch from the moment we walked in. The hostess was on her game, very attentive, and was even showing pics of the dishes from her cell phone. You can tell she really cares about the place and it's success---and for the patrons to be happy. Our server was top-notch as well. Knew the menu inside and out, didn't hover, wasn't overly solicitous in that disgusting fake manner, had a sense of humour, and did her job perfectly.
Wednesday is lobster night, Thursday is risotto night. We will be back to check out these items.
I got the feeling that their strength is with the entrees. I had a really hard time choosing between several dishes that all sounded (and looked, as they were walked past us!) amazing. Out of all of their apps, the only one I wanted to try was the shrimp. The others were a bit too heavy for my taste (hot dips, fried items, etc.). The salad selection also didn't wow me. I love my mixed greens and they weren't on offer.
This place is definitely going to stay hot. They are doing great, and I hope they continue to do well.
Based on the recs on this board, we checked out Jack's on Tuesday night. Agree whole-heartedly with the previous posts; very friendly staff, perfect atmosphere, and good to amazing food. It was "Pretzel Night", so my fiance and I split the Italian pretzel. The tomatoes that covered the pretzel (along with cheese) tasted very fresh, and the pretzel was great as well.
For entrees, my fiance got the aforementioned veggie bento box. I sampled the chard and the beets, and both were great. She really liked the whole thing. I loved my short rib. The meat was incredibly tender, and went wonderfully with the cheesy grits with a kick of jalapeno. For dessert, we tried lavender peppercorn ice cream (made especially for the restaurant by Moxley's) with a WARM sugar cookie. I love lavender, and it went nicely with the, well, peppery red peppercorns. By the end of the portion, I was getting a bit overwhelmed by the flavor, but it may have just been too much great food.
Thanks for the info, and we will most certainly be back, either for dinner or for brunch.
I checked out Jack’s Bistro this past weekend. We arrived at about 8pm on Friday night. We didn't have a wait even though the place is small and intimate. The staff was super friendly. We were immediately welcomed by the chef-owner's mother who was genuinely gracious and warm. Jack’s Bistro has a home town restaurant feel but still retains its cosmopolitan flair.
I tried the bubble tea martini mentioned in the Sun review and it was pretty good. If you’ve had regular bubble tea, it is similar, only it had too much ice so it was hard to find the tapioca balls in the glass. It was sweet and didn't have enough vodka. Innovative idea though. If you order it, tell them to go easy on the ice.
I had the veggie bento box and it was incredible. I'm vegetarian and it's rare when I leave a restaurant as satisfied with my meal as when I left Jack’s. The bento box had mashed potatoes, beets, steamed greens and a variety of wild mushrooms. Ingenious, interesting on my palate, filling, and healthy. I couldn't have been more pleased. My date ordered the curry chicken and said it was phenomenal. He said it totally hit the spot. We were so satiated that we passed on dessert.
Finally, as if the incredible meal wasn’t enough we celeb spotted Domenick Lombardozzi (who plays Herc on The Wire) hanging out at the bar. How cool!
Just checked out Jack's Bistro this weekend without realizing the chef's pedigree -- it's only been open 2 weeks. Have to say I think I had one of the best dishes I've had in years -- a FANTASTIC lobster, shrimp, and asparagus risotto with truffles that was the chef's special Friday night (and very reasonably priced at $21). Have you ever had a dish that, when it arrived, you wished would never end? Yeah, that's what this was. I'm not sure who I have to bribe to get it added to the regular menu.
I was pleasantly surprised -- the menu offered a variety of flavors, with some Asian (fusion) influence. My boyfriend's bento box was centered around a Maine lobster cake that was delish. There was a green chicken curry on the menu as well as a noodle bowl.
Our dessert ("duet of apple" -- warm Jewish apple cake, phyllo dough wrapped apple/cranberry filling served with Haagen Daaz cinnamon ice cream) - was terrific if not particularly unique.
Great little neighborhood find -- even only open 2 weeks, it was crowded. Don't get there much after 6:30 -- it filled up quickly. I'll definitely be back.