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Apr 3, 2011 06:01 AM

Jacky's Table - not bad, but...

We tried it last night. Nice room, larger than I expected, but the first thing we noticed once we got inside was that it was incredibly LOUD. The place was pretty much full, and they had some French accordion music playing at live concert level, forcing everyone to shout to converse over it. We mentioned it to our waiter who agreed and said it was making his life hell too, but that the bar had control over it and was reluctant to turn it down. At our request he asked his manager please to lower the volume - "the customers are complaining" - and after two requests and about a half hour it finally was reduced to a more tolerable level.

The menu looked good, and very reasonably priced - though if you want vegetables with your meal, be aware that sides are extra. The had a few Asian-sounding dishes, like the special of the day, a fish dish with ginger and some exotic slaw, but hey, this is supposed to be a French bistro so we went with the standards - I ordered the onion soup to start, my wife a warm frisee salad, with vol-au-vent and tripe to follow, a couple of sides and a bottle of burgundy.

Ten minutes later, one glass of wine shows up. I explained that we'd ordered a bottle, and the server (not the one who'd taken our order) goes away looking confused. Ten minutes after that the bottle shows up, brought by our original server with an apology. Twenty minutes after THAT (we'd been seated forty minutes now) our server comes back again and asks us if we'd gotten our first course yet. WTF? HE has to ask US? No, we hadn't. He apologizes profusely and ten minutes later they arrive. The soup is quite good, but the salad had apparently been made and set aside and was nearly cold.

Eventually we get our mains, which are quite good, but very American-sized portions - the largest serving of vol-au-vent I've ever seen (to be fair, this is probably the first time I've ever ordered it on this side of the Atlantic) and a heaping bowl of well-prepared tripe. We got through about half of each and brought home the rest. One of the sides, creamed spinach, was really tasty, albeit quite watery. The other never arrived, nor did it show up on the bill. Just as well, we had too much food as it was.

So, what to make of this place? Good prices, decent food (though not nearly on a par with the only slightly more expensive Cognac Bistro down the street), potential hearing loss, seriously haphazard service. And the latter was not just our perception - there was a table of nine next to us where we noticed that some diners had finished their mains before others had even received theirs, and that may not have been their only issue, as eventually we heard the server offer to bring the entire table desserts on the house.

Will we be back? Maybe on a Tuesday, to see if this was just a slammed Saturday night and not typical of the place. But if a restaurant can't handle a slammed Saturday night they're in the wrong business.

Cognac Bistro
455 Harvard St, Brookline, MA 02446

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  1. Interesting...I was there on Friday night and had a good experience. No loud music or crowd, very attentive staff, and the food was good. I will definately be back, but thanks for the heads up - I will avoid Saturdays.

    1. Good to hear - we will give them another chance on a non-Saturday. By the way - did they change their name? Chowhound seems to think the place is called Chez Jacky, but it definitely calls itself Jacky's Table.

      9 Replies
      1. re: BobB

        They did change their name, shortly after they opened. I don't think I've been there on a Saturday night, so haven't experienced all that action.

        1. re: BobB

          I believe they did change their name, either just before they opened or very shortly thereafter.

          Jenny Ondioline and I used up a Groupon and ate there a few weeks ago, and did not have noise problems, although we arrived fairly early and it was a weeknight. (That said, it was about 1/3 full when we arrived and packed by the time we left.) We both had the onion soup and were both pleased with it; for mains we had the steak frites and the grilled Toulouse sausages, with a side of garlicky brussels sprouts (we were grateful that the waitress advised us that one side was plenty to share between us - she was right!)

          I enjoyed the profiteroles for dessert (not as flamboyantly gargantuan as the ones at Brasserie JO, and I was glad for that!) but Jenny Ondioline was extremely disappointed in the rice pudding, which was a baked version consisting mostly of rice with little "pudding" to bind it, and even for his tastes it was undersweetened.

          We've still not tried Cognac Bistro, having been a bit frightened off by the early reports of high price point, but will have to check them out as soon as we can.

          1. re: Allstonian

            I have a Groupon to use up too. Do you think Jacky's Table is kid friendly if we go early, around 5-5:30? We have a 4-year old with pretty good restaurant manners, and a newborn who will hopefully sleep in his carseat (of course, we'll take him out if he starts making noise).

            1. re: Pia

              I think you'll be fine. There is limited parking in the area. I do believe they have valet parking.

              1. re: Pia

                I noticed a couple of booths in the space between the bar and the main big dining room - that would probably be a good bet. Didn't see small children when we were there, but the staff were taking care of a table full of teenaged girls right next to us whose parents were dining in another part of the restaurant (the bar, I think.)

                1. re: Allstonian

                  Thanks! Booths usually work well for us -- the toddler can fidget (or dance, or do a robot impression) without getting in a waiter's way. We'll give it a shot, maybe on a Sunday assuming parking would be easier.

                2. re: Pia

                  Early evening you should be fine. Last time I went (Monday around 5:30) there was a family with a baby and a 4-6-year old boy and it was not a problem. They also had a kid menu for the boy with all proceeds donated to a foundation (I think you can see that on their website).

                  1. re: bolagem

                    If you hadn't posted a few weeks ago, I'd think you were talking about us! We tried it on Monday around 5:30 with our 4-year old son and newborn. It's very kid-friendly, with a kid's menu (as you noted) and high chairs. When we went, it was pretty empty -- there were two other couples and one family with a baby. The servers were very nice and didn't mind when our older son made up names of menu items that he thought were funny. We really enjoyed the comforting and hearty food. I got the vol au vent and my husband got the sausages with roasted potatoes. And the prices are so reasonable (most entrees around $15, and kids' entrees more like $8) that it's an affordable family outing. We'll definitely be back with the kids.

                3. re: Allstonian

                  You really should get to Cognac Bistro - the prices came down (some quite significantly) from the original level, and they still offer meaty, briny Bluepoint oysters for $1 apiece seven days a week. Also two to four other types of oysters, generally $1.50 to $2 apiece.

                  If you want to check it out on the cheap, they offer a short bar menu, small dishes like a beef slider w/fries or a clam roll w/onion rings for $6 each. I've made a meal out of one of those with 1/2 dozen oysters for $12 total. (Plus a couple of martinis, but hey, who's counting?)

                  Cognac Bistro
                  455 Harvard St, Brookline, MA 02446

              2. I've been to Jacky's Table a number of times and always liked it. The first time I went, we could tell right away that this was not like any French restaurant we knew: our waiter, who himself was French, joked with us at length and even gave two of our friends, who had just gotten engaged, a glass of champagne on the house.

                I've been there on weekend nights and never had a problem with excessive noise-- but there's never been a live accordion (bizarre!) and I do have to say that they seem to run out of things quickly. The first thing we order, be it wine, appetizer, whatever, always seems to be out.

                If you want a quiet experience, try going for Sunday brunch. When we went, the place was half-full, quiet, and relaxed. And they have a killer baguette French toast. Sounds weird, but definitely worth a try.


                1 Reply
                1. re: cristinh

                  It wasn't live music, but a recording being played at live concert levels. I actually liked the music itself but not the fact that I had to put my hands up to my mouth and yell at the top of my voice just to be heard from the other side of a two-top. No exaggeration.