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Jan 20, 2008 11:05 AM

Jameson's - Neptune

The true joy in being a foodie (at least for me) is finding that diamond in the rough. That small storefront that no one has ever mentioned that serves food from the heart; food so good, it brings tears to your eyes. I'm glad to say I found such a place.

Jameson's Ultimate Southern Cooking has been around for sometime. Starting out in 1990 they first opened a take-out fried chicken and ribs joint in Long Branch then moving to its present location in Neptune in 1998. This is a very modest storefront with maybe 5-6 tables not setting more than 20 people along with a counter running the length of the room. While it may lack in the decor department, the restaurant makes up for in hospitality and food. The owner Bob Jameson is very personable and engaging. Even though we were there during the Sunday afternoon rush, he took the time to make sure we were enjoying our meals and even struck up a nice conversation about children.

As is becoming a bit of tradition with my two young boys, I took them along for lunch on this cold Sunday afternoon. Both are fond of trying new places and trying new food. For my youngest I ordered the chicken finger dinner with sides of macaroni and cheese and potato salad while I and the oldest had the fried chicken/ribs combination platter (mine with collards and black-eyed peas while my sons with macaroni and cheese and potato salad). Obviously not believing this would be enough food I also ordered a side of French fries (in case either of my kids didn't like there sides). After about 15 -20 mins. (an eternity for my kids but they did well), what looked like boat loads of food came out. Clearly we over ordered but everything was fabulous. The fried chicken was excellent and probably the single best piece I've ever eaten. Each was greaseless with a perfect crunchy coating and a tender moist interior. Just great. The ribs were the perfect counterpoint. Falling off the bone tender with a sweet barbecue sauce. The sides were also very good. The collards had a nice consistency (soft but not too soft) with a slight smokiness to them (some on the table hot sauce kicked them up a notch) while the peas were solid. As for the macaroni and cheese and potato salad while both were good, the potato salad was on the sweet side and not to my liking. Although full, for the sake of completeness I decide to push on and try a couple of the desserts - banana pudding and the peach cobbler. Both were exemplary. The pudding came as chock full of the required vanilla wafers and tasted more like a creamy banana cream pie. The cobbler was also very good notwithstanding the fact that they had to use canned peaches due to the season.

All in all an excellent meal and a tremendous find. The total cost for all the above including two bottles of soda was $42 excluding gratuity. Run don't walk to Jameson's. My highest recommendation.

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  1. bgut, So, here I sit, drooling over my keyboard. lol As usual, an exemplary write-up. (And I'm lovin' that paragraphing! ;) )

    2 Replies
      1. re: bgut1

        bgut, Mr. R. just read your report and commented that paragraphing is like "eye candy." And, no surprise, he's as stoked as I am about trying Jameson's asap! :-))

    1. Everytime I'm in the area I try to stop, unfortunately they are never open. I'm not sure but I believe they open in the early afternoon for lunch and I'm usually around there between 11 a.m. and noon.

      6 Replies
      1. re: DrewBB

        Drew... Here you go!. Don't eat all the banana pudding! :-}
        Monday CLOSED
        Tuesday 12 Noon to 9 PM
        Wednesday 12 Noon to 9 PM
        Thursday 12 Noon to 9 PM
        Friday 12 Noon to 10 PM
        Saturday 1 PM to 10 PM
        Sunday 1 PM to 8 PM

        1. re: Tay

          Thanks for the posting the hours, that explains it. A while ago, on a trip to Jameson's I tried Michael's Southern Temptations, which was about a 1/2 mile south on Rt. 35. I remember that the food was really good, with maybe the best cole slaw I have ever had. Unfortunately it's closed down, which means that Jameson's is probably even better! I will make it a point to get there later in the day. When I do go to the area, I do find it hard to pass up Popeye's Chicken though........

          1. re: DrewBB

            Drew - Michael's is till open AFAIK. Andrea Clurfeld just reviewed it in the APP and gave it a positive review. In fact I had considered trying Michael's first but Jameson's seemed more inviting for a sit down meal.

            1. re: bgut1

              I'm glad to hear that. I'll have to go to work late twice in the next few weeks now!

            2. re: DrewBB

              Popeye's is one of the very few chains I am willing to patronize. We first discovered how good the chicken is years ago on a stop along the Maryland Tpke. No outlet conveniently located near our house; however, there is a Popeye's one block from our apartment in NYC, and it's a job restraining Mr. R. from making regular excursions there. lol

              1. re: RGR

                I think it depends on the individual restaurant. The Popeye's on Terrill Road on the Plainfield/Watchung border is terrible.

        2. Ok, I just got home from a day of shopping with the kids and cannot believe what a great sounding place that we drove right by:( I can't wait till next Sunday when I already know where we will be having dinner!

          4 Replies
          1. re: shorebilly

            My husband loves ribs. I know he will be heading to Jamesons. How do all you food lovers keep the weight off....or do you? How can you eat out so much...I find it deadly, although I love good food too!

            1. re: charmel

              Trust me Charmel it's a task. I've been upset with myself about the food I've eaten today as well as this week. Its off to the gym for me at least for 3 days this week (that along with salads for lunch). :)

              1. re: bgut1

                Bgut1, are the ribs smaoked, or oven baked? I know alot of folks contend that ribs aren't BBQ unless they are smoked, but good ribs are good ribs!

                1. re: DrewBB

                  Drew - I didn't notice a smoke ring so I'm pretty sure they are baked. I agree that its all good to me as long as the taste is there. In the case of Jameson's the ribs were falling off the bone tender with a very nice and sweet BBQ sauce. You wont be disappointed.

          2. Wow, thanks for this review/heads up! My wife and I used to love Sonny's in AP for the chicken, catfish, ribs, etc., but we could see by the lack of diners that is wasn't long for this world. I have probably driven by Jamesons 100 times and never really noticed it. We will be there this Thursday for dinner. I would imagine it is a BYOB, but I'll call...

            23 Replies
            1. re: bnemes3343

              I've eaten there twice, and love the whole look and feel. It is such a meeting place, with the proprietor and 'random' people talking for hours. Plus, the food - well, bgut said it best.

              1. re: aacharya

                aacharya - Your use of the words "meeting place" is spot on in describing the vibe of Jameson's. Clearly, this restaurant is a labor of love for the proprietor.

                1. re: bgut1

                  Like all restaurants should be. BTW, is it Sunday yet? I cannot wait to try it.

                2. re: aacharya

                  Thursday is soon enough for me. We are going (1st time) tonight. And it is definitely not a BYOB. When I called last night the person answering the phone had to ask someone else what I meant by that. No alcohol in the place. We will do fine with sodas. I'm just looking forward to some good fried chicken, maybe some catfish, maybe a few ribs, really good collards...

                  1. re: bnemes3343

                    See ... there you go bnemes3343 ... you're getting me hungry. That's not nice. :) Have a good time and please let us know how it was.

                    1. re: bgut1

                      We got to Jamesons's about 6:15 on Thursday night. Unfortunately the place was empty save for one gentlemen waiting on a pickup, so the ambience associated with a semi-crowded meeting place was lacking. I think it would be more fun for a weekend lunch. (Bob Jameson did walk around the place checking on our dinner once or twice and was a very nice friendly person, as was the lady behind the counter who took and delivered our order).

                      When we left around an hour later, there was one more in-store diner, but there was a steady stream of people picking up bags and bags of food for dinner, most of whom were known by the lady behind the counter, so clearly the place has a very loyal local following for its food. So, our experience was going to be pretty much based on food and food alone.

                      I had wanted the chicken and whiting combo, but they were out of whiting and couldn't subsitute catfish in the combo (they only had one order of catfish left, so I understood). So, I went with the chicken (dark) and shrimp combo. Turns out the shrimp were a really great choice and the best thing I had. They are coated, lightly, in a not-too-heavy spice mixture and then either quickly fried or baked (perfectly). They were very tasty, not overcooked as shrimp often are, a decent size (U20?) and crunchy (tail and all). I thought the chicken was good, but in all honesty, not better than many I have had. No complaints though. For sides, I had the collards and black eyed peas/rice combo. The peas/rice were fine, nothing special, but nothing bad either. The collards, however, were exceptional. Just exactly the way I like them and have had them a few times in places that make really good southern food. They have a sweetness about them (without being 'sweet', if that makes any sense) that I am unable to duplicate when I try to make them at home. The menu mentions that they are seasoned w/ smoked turkey. I don't know if that's the secret, or if they just say that for the benefit of not misleading a vegetarian. I could have survived just off the collards alone.

                      My wife had the 1/2 rack of baby back ribs with potato salad and collards. Potato salad was fine. Collards I have already praised. My wife really liked the ribs; as good as some of the better ribs she's had, better than many. They were certainly tender and moist and flavorful. I prefer more of a smoke element (there really wasn't any), but I suspect that doing commercial cooking with a smoker is an issue in a densly populated area in NJ, so I imagine they were braised. The sauce coating was flavorful, maybe just a tad spicy for my wife. btw, we both had a slice of their corn bread; decent flavor, a bit dry, just ok.

                      By the end of the meal (which we did finish), we were both stuffed, so I opted for a take-home order of the peach cobbler. About an hour later I had it (heated) with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. It was good, but a bit too heavy in the spices (cinamon, nutmeg) for me, to the point I couldn't honestly tell of they were peaches or apples. Not bad though.

                      This whole evening, with a diet soda from the cooler that my wife and I shared (wow, I wish they would make their own unsweeted ice tea!), was $32 and change, before the tip. Not bad.

                      As someone who loved Sonny's in AP (pretty much the same menu, but slightly more upscale than Jameson's), well, I still miss it. I thought it was a little better for about the same price, and you could enjoy a nice inexpensive bottle of your own BYO along with the food.

                      BUT, Sonny's is gone and Jameson's is not. As I said, I would probably pick a time like a Sat. or Sun. lunch for a return visit, or just pick up some ribs for take out. One thing for sure, if you go there (and you aren't expecting the white tablecloth treatment and truffled potatoes), you will NOT leave disappointed or feeling like you didn't get your money's worth for some pretty overall tasty food!

                      1. re: bnemes3343

                        bnemes3343. Thank you for the excellent review. I'm happy that you and your wife enjoyed your meal. I must agree with your assessment on the corn bread and the cobbler. While the corn bread was a tad dry, I found the bit of melted butter added to the top solved the problem for me. As for the cobbler, it was a bit heavy on the nutmeg but to me it didn't detract from my enjoyment of the dessert. I never had a chance to try Sonny's before it closed but I appreciate your comparison. Didn't I read somewhere that the owner of Sonny's intended to reopen in AP or am I confusing him with someone else?

                        1. re: bgut1

                          I would love to see Sonny's open again. But they were in AP before and didn't have much luck. It just seems like a slightly upscale 'soul/southern' food place would do well there. They even had live entertainment with a dance floor (although not too often). Really miss it...

                          Thanks to you for the heads up on Jameson's!

                    2. re: bnemes3343

                      Is Neptune dry? Or,is the alcohol policy just one that this restaurant has as their rule? Curious, as I live in a dry town, but you can BYOB at any restaurant.

                      1. re: mschow

                        Neptune is far from dry, Pete & Elda's, Kelly's etc.

                        1. re: mschow

                          It's just a policy of the place. I think they worry it would turn into a hangout for peole drinking beer/wine for hours on end.

                          1. re: bnemes3343

                            I know in Wall you have to apply for a BYOB permit, just can't allow people to bring. Perhaps the same applies to Nepture.

                            1. re: Barbarella

                              Could be, although isn't Wall where you have to pay a .25 tax for a shopping cart? I assume there is a hefty 'fee' for the byob permit. Love NJ!

                              1. re: Barbarella


                                I am curious to the specifics of the BYOB permit you mention for Wall Township. I have never heard of this type of regulation necessary before for a BYOB any where in the State. Even dry towns allow the consumption of alcohol, just not the sale. Normally, a food license is all that is require to open a food establishment. It is with the owner of an establishment's consent that allows alcohol into the business, not the municipality according to the NJ Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control.......the prosecutorial arm of the law enforcement agency within the Attorney General's office. While all towns have license fees for all liquor license within a municipality, again, I have not heard of any fees associated with BYOBs,

                                1. re: fourunder

                                  My neighbors have a place in Ocean City, NJ, and it is dry but they tell me you also cannot BYOB at any of the local restaurants. You can bring liquor into your own home, but cannot consume it at any restaurant. I had heard this was also true in Wall.

                                  1. re: mschow

                                    Not true in Wall. There are restos in Wall such as Lubrano's where you can BYOB.

                                  2. re: fourunder

                                    The resto is Michael Angelo, located in Brook Plaza along with Victorias secret, Chicos, etc. on Hwy 35 N. in Wall. I poked my head in one day, checked out the menu and asked if wine could be brought in and the waitress told me not yet, they were "applying?" with the town to be able to allow. Perhaps she was not correct in telling me this. I am not familiar with the process. Wall is screwy, some time ago you were allowed to bring alcohol into Lubrano's Tratorria located on 34 South in that town, and the next I read was you could not!!

                                    1. re: fourunder

                                      For now a slight correction:

                                      A township may not allow any consumption of alcohol in a public place if there is a specific ordinance.......
                                      I am trying to verify the legality of any specific fees to operate a BYOB....just for curiosity sake,.... and for any one eles intered, I will post the reply from the AG.

                                      1. re: fourunder

                                        Wall like many other Townships in New Jersey requires a license for a BYOB and an annual fee ($500 or $1,000) depending upon the number of seats in the establishment. There is an application required annually that must be approved by the town council. Thus, places that elect not to incur the extra expense cannot permit patrons to bring in alcohol. Similarly, places that have applications rejected cannot permit patrons to bring in alocohol.

                                        1. re: MGZ

                                          Wow, then that place may or may not allow the presence of alcohol. This is all new to me..

                                          1. re: Barbarella

                                            If you ever go to Jameson's, you will quickly realize why this place does not allow BYO, regardless of whether the law permits it. It is a small place, with very few people working (only really one out front) and not in the best neighborhood. I am certain the owner does not want a place where anyone could bring in a sixpack and nibble on an order of chicken. I could easily see the place becomming an unsavory 'hangout' and the owner really does not seem that type. The response I got to the BYO question was 'we don't allow alcohol in the place'.

                                            1. re: bnemes3343

                                              I think they are very wise to avoid the whole alcohol issue. Drinking may also be something their religion frowns upon.
                                              Whatever the reason, I think it's a smart move.

                        2. Bgut, you were on the money with this one! The fried chicken brought me back a good twenty plus years to an old afterhours club in Seaside Heights, Curlys. That is a huge compliment, as Curlys had the best fried chicken ever. I too had the chicken and rib combo, sharing the ribs with the kids. The kids each had fried chicken with sweet potato and mac n cheese. Both of their sides were very tasty. I had green beans and collards. The collards were outstanding, the beans average. We were stuffed at that point but still grabbed sweet potato pie and a lemon cake to go. I am now back in the comfort of my own home, but need to wait a few more hours to try the desserts:) The owner was exceptionally pleasant. The place was empty when we got there at 5:30 but filled up completely within mins. Oh, and our cornbread was very moist, not a bit dry! I will be a new regular at Jamesons, as should anyone else that appreciates good home style food!
                          Sorry RGR, too tired for paragraphing!

                          10 Replies
                          1. re: shorebilly

                            LOL! shorebilly, Actually, paragraphing only becomes a major issue for me when posts are lo-o-o-o-o-ng. Yours here is fairly short and pretty much sticks to one point -- the food -- so paragraphing really isn't necessary. Anyway, glad to hear that you loved Jameson's. I'm so anxious to try it. This week is looking like a good bet.

                            [See? Short, so no paragraphing! :-)) ]

                            1. re: RGR

                              Just saw on where you can purchase discounted gift certificates.

                              1. re: shorebilly

                                I'm confused. Jameson's is not on OpenTable. What discount g.c.'s are you referring to?

                                1. re: RGR

                                  You can purchase Jameson's gift certificates on

                                  I'm anxious to try it too. Will probably be mobbed on Superbowl Sunday.

                                  1. re: fershore

                                    Sorry about that, but when you go get the sweet potato pie, Sweet!

                                    1. re: shorebilly

                                      Another great meal at Jameson's today. Me and my oldest ordered the same combo platter we had before (fried chicken and ribs) and it was still perfect. The ribs were falling off the bone tender while the chicken was crispy with a moist interior. The only thing different that we tried today was a piece of their homemade cake which consisted of a moist yellow bundt cake with a light lemon frosting. As with everything else, the cake was excellent. You can't go wrong at Jameson's. :)

                                      1. re: bgut1

                                        Hey, bgut,

                                        It's looking as though lunch at Jameson's on the weekend is on the way to becoming a tradition for the b-boys! :-))

                                        We still haven't managed to get to there. :-( On Thursday, we were trying to decide where to go for dinner. When Mr. R. checked Nicholas's website and found they are no longer serving the truffle dinner, it became a choice between Jameson's or a second time at Table. We settled on Table because we decided we'd prefer to do Jameson's for lunch. So, maybe tomorrow.

                                        1. re: RGR

                                          RGR - Your right. The weekend lunch thing has become somewhat of a tradition with my boys. Of late the two favorites are Jameson's and Shanghai Bun (which we are probably going today).

                                          That was a short truffle dinner at Nicholas. I thought it would last a little bit longer. Sorry for the disappointment. Let me know how Table was. I've been reading at the Artful Diner's blog that he is about to issue a review but has mixed feelings due to "lack of subtlety" in the food. it goes to show you how subjective food reviewing is.

                                          1. re: bgut1


                                            Iirc, last year, when we did the truffle dinner, it was in January. I'm not sure it went into February. I would presume they continue serving it as long as the truffle season lasts and they can get some, so I guess it's over.

                                            I don't read Tad's blog too often. And when it comes to his reviews, even though I think he's reasonably fair, I find his let's-get-out-the-Thesaurus-and-find-the-most-flowery-word-we-can-find writing style -- the really annoyingI

                                            I should put a review of our dinner at Table on the appropriate thread. In a word: Excellent!

                                            1. re: bgut1

                                              Tried Jameson's again this weekend with my father in law. As usual, the food was exceptional (specifically the BBQ ribs/fried chicken combo). The only difference this time was that instead of presenting corn bread sliced and wrapped in wax paper, it was served as a muffin. The resulting corn bread was less dry than I recall. The lemon bundt cake with lemon frosting continued to impress. Good Luck.