jeanty at jack's report
for some time i've planned on going to jeanty at jack's to sit at the bar and try it out. the other night i went with a friend, shelving plans for a russian meal at sadko in the richmond until just the right frigid night. it seems that most of the reports here are just a little dated, so here's my fresh take:
we started with their hallmark tomato soup with puff pastry shell. it was perfect for two, being rather rich. the shards of pastry that fell into the soup soaked up the flavors nicely, softening and adding a buttery touch. we had a beet and mache salad with feta, which was good, but ordered more for balance and lightness. i love beets, but beet salad is beet salad is...
next were mussels in red wine sauce. these were nice and plump, fragrant with thyme. being really limited in my experience with french food, this was the first time that i've had mussels cooked in red rather than white wine. a welcome change.
my favorite was the petit sale, though. the lentil ragout with deeply flavored, enhanced with smokey bacon. i noticed later that steak knives had been laid out before us, but the slab of pork belly was fork tender, and the small thin slice of foie gras...well it was actually my first real exposure to foie gras. the first time i had it was at a birthday, where some cooks stole some from their restaurant as a gift for the birthday girl. they overcooked it and i can't remember the taste. i've had it in pate as well, but that was highly seasoned. but i loved it in this dish. of course it was rich, almost custard soft, and a bit sweet. how long before the ban takes effect again?
finished with a creme brulee, which had a vanilla custard base and a chocolate mousse top layer. not the most adventuresome dessert, but classic and solid. we were given complimentary glasses of port, as well, which is always, always welcome.
i wanted to eat here to suss it out for future events, and i wasn't disappointed. the space is gorgeous and historic. our bartender encouraged us to take the elevator to the top floor and explore the then nearly empty restaurant, with the photos of alfred hitchcock and herb caen, and the old menus from when it was jack's. frog's legs. turtle soup. old school.
i don't know how it stacks up against bistro jeanty in yountville, but i will definitely be going back. anyone care to weigh in their strengths or weaknesses? there was a lamb tongue and potato salad that looked interesting. and i'm waiting for a fog heavy night to try their cassoulet, too.
Many of the menu items are served at both locations, witness the soup, petit sale, and lamb's tongue salad. I've never had a bad meal at either.
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this year jeanty at jack's is joining in on DAT. was planning on hitting it for that, but schedules precluded this, so tonight four of us dined here, and i thought i'd update my report for those interested in their DAT menu. i don't know what that will be, but this is what we had, and it was a decently broad taste of their menu.
terrine de lapin, rabbit terrine. i liked it quite a bit, but thought it improved as it came to room temp. it has been years since i've had a taste of rabbit, but i thought it well flavored and nicely textured. the duck rillettes were quite disappointing, mainly because they mix it with goat cheese as well. i think the fun of rillettes is the in your face meatiness, with chunks and shreds of full flavored meat and fat. duck has such a strong, wonderful flavor, and it disappeared in the goat cheese. all i tasted was the tart dairy notes, and wondered at the strange salmon-like coloring. also ordered the same petit sale as mentioned in my report above, and still loved it. smoky lentils in aromatic bacon with very, very modest slices of pork belly and foie gras. we also ordered escargot just because...mainly.
i had the cassoulet, which i had misgivings about ordering in this little heat spell. most of it is in my fridge now. it's so substantial and rich. a big duck confit leg nestled with a thick pork sausage and a chunk of pork in a bed of white beans. my one problem was that the top layer of breadcrumbs was a little heavy-handed, and didn't really form much of a crust. it softened too much when the dish was mixed together, with texture like panko, which i like fried, but not still...a bit fluffy. but all taken, i haven't been looking forward to a lunch of leftovers in quite some time, but that box of beans and meat is calling me. tasted a bit of the ribeye with frites and bearnaise, and thought the steak was well cooked and seasoned. the small bit of coq au vin i tasted had a rich sauce, with a smokey overtone from the bacon, and was my other favorite main dish. my other companion had a salade nicoise, which is not something i would order for dinner. but i always appreciate it when eggs are hard cooked correctly. soft yolks with no hint of that green tinge of sulfur and brimstone and grossness.
also had the interesting experience of drinking two bottles of wine noted for the fact that in that year, 2004, many many people died in a massive summer heat wave in france. but if the intense dry heat makes for a fairly tasty wine, then i hope that summer's victims wouldn't begrudge us a bottle or two. i can't recall its name at the moment, my biggest hurdle in learning to build an appreciation for wine.
i thought this might be a useful update, since we covered a decent portion of their menu, and the DAT starts...tonight? i'm sure there are better options for good but not haute or super $$$ french, (recommendations? anyone?) but i have really enjoyed both of my dinners here, and it is one of the few restaurants where the decor, atmosphere, history, and charm contribute almost as much to my dining experience as the meal, at least after these two meals. most of the time, give me a formica table and a pair of plastic green chopsticks. but give me that petit sale, too. and the cassoulet. just hold some of those bread crumbs.
Thanks for the report! I'm also a fan of Jeanty's. The only time I had a mixed meal there was when I went with a very large group (8 or 12, I forget). I think I should have managed it better by pre-ordering appetizers or setting a few entree choices with the kitchen ahead of time. It wasn't a bad meal, but the best meals I've had there have been with small parties.
Tip: the bar downstairs is a great place for a drink. Two of us arrived too early and had a really great time sipping martinis and lemon drops for half an hour. There's just something about sitting at an old timey bar that feels cozy and fun.