Jasper's..go quick cause it won't be there long
If our lunch was any indication the prestige of eating at Jaspers in the Domain won't carry the day for long. The bacon cheese burger which will set you back about $12.00 is, to be charitable, horrible. There was and is absolutely nothing about the burger that would make me want to ever order another one. They must use about 75/25 meat to create that juicy taste, what a shame, I'd prefer actual taste. There is absolutely nothing special about the bun, in fact I fairly sure the "Chef" took it out of the Butter Crust bag, and not the new bag, the old one. I opted for chips which were greasy and tasteless, unless you count the grease taste. My sister who is a food snob and generally orders according to what is the most expensive item on the menu had the special at about $15.00 which this day was a Salmon salad. The food snob thought it was pathetic. My nephew ordered the bacon cheese burger without the bun, and of course it came with the bun. His wife appeared none too happy with whatever salad it was she was eating. All in all I'd have to ask why they even bother. I think I can safely say that Jaspers will have to up the ante or go the way of other overblown chains in Austin...I always like to say "You can fool some of the diners some of the time, but not in Austin."
A few months ago I read the Chron article raving about Jasper's fried chicken and ran straight to Jasper's for Sunday lunch. I like a spicy fried chicken and Jasper's didn't cut it, also thought the skin should have been crisper. I don't even recall what I ordered on a second visit, but I do recall that it was a little depressing to spend $100 on a weekday lunch for two. I'm not hurrying back, that's for sure. It'll be interesting to see how long all those Domain restaurants stick around. Which will be the first to die? I wouldn't bet on Jasper's being the first, but I wouldn't miss it either.
I went to Kona twice, and feel like I'm missing something. I'm just don't understand how the Domain location was selected, how someone got the retailers to commit, oh, and the city to throw in some money too. Weren't they going to build in Bee Cave, but were blocked by SOS only to have another mall build there? Weird. I think everyone- especially the restaurants- aren't in a location that is accessible or visible. Then, they moved in and it seems like they aren't even making an effort. It is too bad, but I just don't think these businesses are going to work where they are now. The lunch crowd doesn't have time to navigate through the strange entrance and parking, but who wants to drive to a mall next to a freeway in an un-interesting area of the city for a relatively expensive dinner?
Oh, it'll work...eventually. I think it will be slow and painful for many of the first tenants. But once Whole Foods and Nordstrom get there (as planned in 18 to 24 months), I imagine it'll be quite busy. Compounding the problem right now, restaurant-wise, there's a huge overload of restaurants that mostly serve the same stuff. Joe DiMaggio's Chophouse and North (italian fare) are both opening this month. But 2 thumbs up for the Oakwood Grocery. Their prices are pretty reasonable and it's not too difficult to get in and out of.
I didn't try any of the items you mentioned in your post in my dining there, but I found Jasper's to be a decent spot for a casual dinner out. See my post in this thread for details: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/395718
The burger was something I had identified as wanting to try, though after your post I might put it on the back burner...I thought Jasper's was a good fit in the location and will probably do well, assuming traffic to the Domain keeps up.
I used to be a fan of Jasper's baby back ribs. The first time I went there, the ribs were phenomenal because certain parts of each rib had this great crunchy portion (infused with barbecue sauce) and the other parts were your typical "soft" "fall off the bone" rib style.
The second time I went, however, I was really displeased by not only the ribs but the service as well. I had specifically asked the waiter for the following -
"I'd like a half rack of ribs but instead of the potato salad I'd like to substitute with french fries."
To this he told me that he wasn't sure if they offerred a half rack portion during dinner. I knew they did, as I have ordered the half rack portion before, but I simply gave him the option
"Alright, well if they don't have the half rack portion, give me the normal full rack version that's listed on the menu."
The food comes, and I get a full rack with potato salad.
I tell the waiter that I had specifically asked him to substitute the potato salad for fries, and to that he had the audacity to tell me that I never told him any such thing. He told me "You asked for the half rack with fries, and if the half rack wasn't available, you said you wanted the full rack version."
Yes, the "full rack version," as in I'll take a fully rack of ribs. I never said anything about cancelling the side substitution.
So after his unnecessary sass, he goes off to replace the potato salad with french fries. 5-7 minutes later, he comes back with the original dish and an extra basket of french fries. The potato salad had simply been clumsily sweeped off the side into the some waste container I'd assume.
Now, maybe I'm being picky, but why could he not have just given me another new, fresh plate? Why could he not have just put the ribs on a new plate? It's irritating to have to eat my dinner seeing the small, blotchy remnants of a food I don't like.
It just seemed very unprofessional to me, although once again, most might argue that I'm being unreasonably picky here.
My main complaint, however, was the fact that the ribs themselves had this extremely odd after taste to them - it reminded me of an extremely diluted vinegar after taste. There was no crunch. The ribs were immersed in grease. Just terrible this time around.
I will not be going here again.
Today I wanted to try Joe Dimaggios at the Domain, but to my dismay the wait was quite unreasonable and apparently we had called in too late to make reservations [they told us that walk in would not take too long over the phone though, which is why we went in the first place].
Next potential stop - North, but they were not open yet. So, we reluctantly went to Jasper's again despite my rant about it just today.
I must say though I was more impressed with the service this time around as well as the ribs.
The ribs did indeed have that "crunch" on the sides that I enjoyed on one of my previous visits, although there wasn't as much crunch as last time.
More importantly, the ribs came piping hot this time around, and I realized that my negative view of the ribs during my last visit was very likely largely influenced by the fact that the incompetent waiter had to take back my plate (to fix the side orders) and it took him over 5 minutes to bring my plate back. And, by this time the ribs were merely lukewarm.
However, one problem still remains. I still don't feel that the quality of Jasper's ribs justify their relatively high price.
I don't mind spending $29 on baby back ribs [$26 + an extra $3 side substitution] but I expect the ribs to be pretty phenomenal for this price. I just don't feel that Jasper's ribs make the cut for this price range, and furthermore, I've come to realize that Jasper's can be somewhat inconsistent as well (especially when it comes to their ribs).
I don't think you're being unreasonably picky at all; you are the customer and they should be bending over backwards to make you happy (and ensure that you return). As long as you were civil about it and treated the server with respect there's no reason why they shouldn't accomodate you.
I had Jasper's on my list of places to try but now...not so much.
I have been to Jasper's a couple of times.... I think I'm a glutton for punishment because it just gets worse. Needless to say, I won't go back for a third dissapointment. My first visit was for lunch, and the restaurant seemed pretty empty considering the time. I think the location isn't doing anything for business, though despite the emptiness, I still had to cirle around about 10 times to find a parking spot. I refuse to use a $5 valet when I know that they are going to park my car 2 feet away. The food: I ordered the Thai chicken Salad, which to my dismay was not really a salad, and seemed to have little to no chicken. More like a bland pile of noodles with way too many onions, and a few sad little shreds of chicken. Definitely NOT worth the $14 pricetag.
I thought maybe dessert would be redemption, but I ended up kicking myself for dropping another $6 for a weird, half frozen, way too sour, (yet also way too sweet) gritty concoction dubbed "Cherry Limeade Pie". I think the pastry chef would have faired better had he/she received his/her culinary training from Sonic.
After forking over the nearly $30 dollars, with tea and a tip, I left feeling as if I had just been taken. I will say this: The ambiance was nice, but you can tell they probably thought the atmosphere would make up for the shady food.
Second visit was on the suggestion of a visiting friend who wanted to visit the Domain, and then saw Jasper's. She came from Dallas, and had dined at their other location and had a good experience. We had a couple of drinks, and should have quit while we were ahead. An $11 martini may fly in Dallas, but there are just too many great places in Austin to put up with liquor gouging. It was called "Big Daddy's Martini", so I thought it might come in one of those larger glasses. Nope. Just your standard martini glass. It was good, but not $11 good.
We sat down for dinner and I began browsing the menu for a winner. I settled on the Salmon with polenta and asparagus, and my friend had the Filet. Both were just okay, although a major negative for me was the oily orange "sauce" that lined my plate, and for all the calories was pretty much tasteless. The polenta was outstanding. The filet by all acounts was tasty, though the strange lump of grey on the plate went untouched. She though the dish was served with portobella mushroom?? We skipped dessert, and went to Oakville grocery for pastries. Fabulous by the way.
Overall, the service was good both times, though both servers seemed to just go through the motions. I will say on our way out from dinner, a somewhat overzealous manager thanked us for coming in. I didn't have the heart to tell him that was our last hoorah at Jasper's. If you go, be ready to drop some dough for VERY mediocre food. I personally think Austinites are too smart to have the wool pulled over their eyes by this superficial Dallas joint.