The Americans are coming the Americans are coming! No I’m not talking tourists or invasion (though the tourists can make it feel like an occupation sometimes), I am talking food. London is overflowing with patty shacks, rib joints, dog stands and God save you if you don’t have Mac n Cheese on your menu. We also seem to have fallen back in love with the 20s, the speakeasy and brasserie all done up in moody, sensual, art deco curves are popping up as often as a flapper’s backside. Sister to recently opened Grillshack, offspring of Tommy Tune lookalike billionaire Richard Caring, Jackson & Rye is most definitely a nod across the pond to the kind of place we imagine New York to be full of. Cozy banquettes all deep brown, subdued lighting, walls that looked stained with the smoke of thousands of cigars. To the untrained eye J & R looks like it could have been there for 80 years, but the giveaway that they only opened their doors before Christmas is that the grand marble toilets are spotless & smell only of scented candles. There’s a lovely bar as you come in, with seating upstairs as well as down with capacity for 130 diners.
I kicked off with a glass of their unfiltered lager which is brewed by Brewers & Union and quite good indeed. While we perused the sensibly priced brunch menu (which is pure Americana. The likes of Milk & Cookies, Buttermilk Pancakes, Corn Bread, Reuben Sandwich, Chopped Salad, wait for it… Truffled Mac n Cheese, etc) we moved onto their house fizz from the Loire. Francois Dulac Blanc de Blanc Mousseux Brut NV was clean, fresh and with hits of lime it impressed on the palate as well as the wallet, only £19.95. The wine list is well priced and thought out, with plenty of interesting offerings by the glass from Europe as well as the US of A. In addition to the unfiltered draft lager, they also do a handful of well worn Yankee names by the bottle.
To start we ordered the Market Soup, Chopped Tuna salad and Crab. The pumpkin soup was rich thick and came in a classy pewter jug. The twist came at the bottom of the bowl, a delicious spinach and ricotta ravioli. So using your spoon as a cleaver and digging deep you could pull up a mouth full of cheesy Popeye goodness with that creamy pumpkin richness. The chopped tuna was a bit of a let down. Seared and nicely presented but it lacked seasoning and could have done with a good squeeze of lime. The classic crab and avocado stack was substantial, decadent and raised to a new height by the pool of spicy tomato that it swam in. A super dish.
Mains of Sea Bass, Meatballs and Rib Cut Steak were all reasonably accomplished. The sea bass didn’t look appetising, the colours bland and uninviting, but it wasn’t too overcooked, and the caper sauce did its job. Sadly the grilled baby gem came of the worst, looking sad indeed. The veal & beef meatballs were a hit in their roasted tomato sauce, and certainly the best of the trio. The 10oz steak was acceptable, decent piece of meat cooked to an average standard. We got a few sides as well, Creamed Corn Grits (imagine fried crunchy creamy polenta) did what they said on the tin with aplomb, thought the Tomato Salad very tasty as well, but I can still taste the Olive Oil Whipped Potatoes. The texture of silk melting in the mouth leaving that fruity tang of the olive oil. Dreamy stuff. The Shoe String Fries were edible enough
Pudding was probably the least impressive course with the Blueberry Cobbler lacking sweetness as well as substance. The Pecan Pie was alright, I have certainly had better, but it was just saved by a well made rye ice cream. Best was the Potted Cheesecake, thick sweet and the berry compote complimenting what was a quite simple dessert.
Service was a little inconsistent at times, but staff were warm and as we were there pre official opening I am happy to let that slide. Now taking into account its location in the heart of Soho, the prices, the quality of the food, drink, service and atmosphere I would go back to Jackson & Rye. Sure there are better places but for what it is, in the right company I could easily while away a day or night in its charming old world embrace.
Open Mon-Fri 8am to 11:30pm
Saturday Brunch 9am to 4:30pm & Dinner 4:30-11:30pm/Sunday Brunch 10am to 4:30pm & Dinner 4:30-11pm
For 2 (3 courses with wine and service) around £80 but you could eat for much less than that