Jackson + Rye
London’s post-Christmas dining scene is typically quiet but there was no hint of the January draught at Jackson + Rye this week. The Wardour Street newcomer was packed with hungry diners, lured by the cosy comforts of a relaxing atmosphere and soul-hugging American food.
Expectations were high as we took our seats. The restaurant has the backing of Richard Caring, the entrepreneur owner of several high-profile eateries and members clubs across London. These include the inimitable Le Caprice, styled by Martin Brudnizki, who is also responsible for Jackson + Rye’s inviting interior. His speakeasy-meets-Brooklyn-bar design incorporates leather banquettes, wooden furniture, low level lighting and old-fashioned wall mirrors: stylish yet casual.
The food choices were as expected: a variety of ubiquitous crowd-pleasers (steak, crab cakes, cheeseburgers), alongside US specialities such as a Reuben Sandwich, ButtermilkFried Chicken, Truffled Mac and Cheese and Corn Bread. Sipping on crisp gin-laced Floradora cocktails, we enjoyed a delicious snack of Truffled Popcorn as we awaited our starters.
Chopped Raw Tuna and Shrimp & Grits were both well presented and flavoursome. The cubes of tender tuna, enhanced with smoked paprika and crème fraîche, melted perfectly against the peppery crunch of toasted rye bread. The grits – a pillow of creamy, ground cornmeal adorned with chilli-topped prawns and spring onion – were devoured within seconds.
Our main courses were equally pleasing, if slightly flawed. A superb fillet of sea bass, served with grilled baby gem and caper sauce, arrived with an under-heated side order of Olive Oil Whipped Potatoes. The mash was tasty, just far too cold.
An 8oz NY Striploin was perfectly cooked and served with a nicely roasted shallot, but the crispy fries soon wilted within their container. A finger-lickingly good barbecue house sauce, along with a helping of fiery Chipotle Hollandaise, made up for the slight sogginess – as did a wonderful Tomato and Basil Salad.
Desserts were clearly an over-indulgence but well worth the gluttony. A slab of pecan pie was flawless: crunchy, treacle-coated nuts, perfect pastry and a touch of heat from a rye ice cream. Melting Chocolate Sundae, a recommendation from our waitress, was a mysterious metal pail, topped with a shiny chocolate dome. This quickly melted under a stream of hot butterscotch sauce, revealing whipped cream and vanilla ice cream. A surprise of crunchy honeycomb also awaited as our spoons neared the bottom.
We bypassed a selection of wines and rye whiskies for an eye-wateringly bitter Black ‘n’ Rye cocktail (Rittenhouse 100, Kahlua, coffee and sugar), followed by filter coffee. The rich, smoky Java was served in a mug and reflected the style of the evening: unhurried, relaxed and comfortable.
Overall, the food was pleasant, the staff seemed top-notch and the atmosphere was warm and welcoming. When considering the criteria for selecting a good place to eat, there’s little more to demand and, if American dreams are anything to go by, Jackson + Rye is well on its way to fame and fortune.
Photos: Jackson + Rye
Jackson + Rye: 50/60
To book a table at Jackson + Rye, 56 Wardour Street, London, W1D 4JD, call 020 7437 8338 or for further information visit here.