Jackson & Rye

February 4, 2015

56 WARDOUR STREET, W1D 4JG

Before the bar fights, spittoons and prostitutes, saloon bars had a respectable reputation. In the 19th century, saloons were birthed out of swanky hotels, offering travellers a place to eat and stay. They were known as an “oasis of glamour”, even allowing women and children to park their bums upon the freshly dusted benches. I think that this type of saloon is the kind that Jackson & Rye is based on.

Polished wooden frames with plush seats and immaculately dressed waiters confirm that there won’t be any rogue cowboys charging in. But everywhere around the bar, there is so much attention to detail in the design. The style is thoroughly thought-out, making sure everything looks the part, down to the sink taps that resemble rustic shower heads.

Whilst the fans swing over our skulls, people chat behind their menus. The choice of food isn’t exactly what I imagine an American saloon would provide over a century ago; a lot of Italian elements are included in this fish-fest. Beside the main list stand a number of healthy options catered towards the different fad diets of the moment. The waiter tells me that this is only for January, which means that they gave up on your New Year’s resolution, even if you haven’t yet.

One dish that seems very American is the pecan pie with rye whiskey ice cream. We’ve all tried rum and raisin but now whiskey is having its time. The pie is layered perfectly with pastry, a trickling of syrup, pecan topping, and presented with a perfectly shaped sphere of the creamy substance. It doesn’t taste much like rye but I hardly care because it’s smooth and sweet, complimenting the nutty pie well.

jackson & rye pecan pie with whiskey and rye ice cream review
Pecan Pie & Rye Ice Cream

 

Rye lines the drinks menu, with fifteen different types overall. Unsurprisingly, they haven’t hesitated in making a rye-based cocktail menu, including the aptly titled Black and Rye. It looks and tastes like an espresso martini, and when you’re up against such a strong flavour like coffee it’s pretty much a losing battle.

Mains and starters don’t offer any more rye infusions but do include some moist cuisine. There seems to be a lack of vegetarian options, leaving an abysmal, bog-standard mozzarella salad or a traditional mac ‘n’ cheese. I begin with crab and avocado, oozing with juice onto a toasted slice of bread. The bitterness of the vinegar mashed with the guacamole and salsa rules over any taste of the fish. The temperature of the food feels a little over-refrigerated with the coldness somehow masking the flavour.

Most of the meals are reasonably priced – under £20. Today’s special is swordfish and costs £15. It’s grilled and garnished with potatoes and salad making a perfect portion. My teeth glide straight into the glossy, white, squidgy meat, which is perfectly cooked and sits warmly on the tongue. It’s a fine choice for those who wouldn’t usually opt for fish. Plucked from the minuscule veggie selection is a goat’s cheese and beetroot ravioli. It’s an acquired taste that sees two cheeses (Parmesan and goat’s cheese) going to war in a purple-pooled battlefield. I somehow find it to be unusually nice, but not nice enough to repeat.

Jackson and Rye restaurant review London
Swordfish & Ravioli

 

Throughout this fish fetish menu there doesn’t seem to be much of a deep southern-style cuisine but more of a refined upmarket assortment of dishes. Though the relation of rye with saloon bars is very apparent, the food doesn’t reflect this. By having three easy-to-find locations in Richmond, Wardour Street, and Chiswick, the restaurant has a wide spectrum of customers. Jackson and Rye appeals to the butch with its masculine style and whiskey allure, but it can also impress the bitch with its eloquent food and subtle cocktails. Dare I say, it’s date-worthy.

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