6005 Jericho Tpke. Commack, NY 631-462-0822
Going on the notion that more people want to go out for a bite than for a big-deal meal, restaurateur Art Bloom and his daughter Shelby reinvented the former Blue Oyster Grille as Jackson's, a more down-home, wallet-friendly spot. The new concept seems to be taking off, since on weekend evenings, it's often hard to get a table.
The restaurant doesn't take reservations, but those who call before setting out can get their names on an advance list. Jacksons space features the dim lighting and long bar usually found in a nightclub lounge, but the main activity here is dining. Salads, barbecue and ice cream sundaes are just the beginning, as the menu is pages long and full of American favorites.Hours: Lunch: 11:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.: Daily. Dinner: 4:30 p.m.-10 p.m.: Mon.-Thurs. 4:30 p.m-12 a.m.:Fri.-Sat. 4:30 p.m.-9 p.m.: Sundays. Reservations: Not Accepted
Blog post June 2010
It was sheer chance that brought me to Jacksons in Commack on what turned out to be "barbecue night." That, I learned, is every Monday and Tuesday, when $15.95 buys you a mixed green salad and a plate heaped with two meats (the chef's choice, which varies according to the night in question) plus hand-cut fries and coleslaw.
Lucky me. Not only was the salad vibrant and fresh, but the meat turkey meat loaf basted with barbecue sauce and pulled pork was plentiful and delicious (note that this isn't slow-smoked barbecue in the strict sense of the term). Loved those fries, which tasted toasty and sweet.
Going on the notion that more people want to go out for a bite than for a big-deal meal, restaurateur Art Bloom and his daughter Shelby reinvented the former Blue Oyster Grille as Jackson's, a more down-home, wallet-friendly spot.
The new concept seems to be taking off, since on weekend evenings, it's often hard to get a table. The restaurant doesn't take reservations, but those who call before setting out can get their names on an advance list. I prefer dining on quieter weeknights.
Fresh tortilla chips come with a vibrant black bean dip that tastes better than it looks. The first of several visits began with barbecue beef rib tips, smoky and coated with a sauce that veered toward the sweet. Thai lettuce wraps were a huge hit, even if enfolding the wok-seared chicken and vegetables in lettuce leaves proved a bit messy. Pulled pork "sliders" translated into little buns filled with shredded barbecued pork and crisp slaw. Jackson's "4-alarm" vegetable chili was uncommonly good, a boon to vegetarians. Notable, too, was a tostada stuffed with barbecue-style shrimp and cool slivers of jicama.
One evening, when I fancied something light, I opted for the W.T. barbecue salad, which probably had more calories than I wanted to know about. Still, the contrast of hot, saucy pulled pork against cool lettuce was ingenious. A Cobb salad had all the proper ingredients -- cubes of grilled chicken, grape tomatoes, bacon, egg, avocado, Cheddar and blue cheese -- but it came already tossed, sidestepping true Cobb tradition.
Jackson's makes a thick, juicy burger, its exterior well charred and rife with beefy flavor, but it was the smoky, glazed house-made veggie burger, fashioned of brown rice and oat bran, that proved extraordinary. Both the French fries and the sweet potato fries were hand-cut and irresistible.
I thought the barbecued ribs were good, but they lagged behind the first-rate smoke-infused barbecued chicken. In the Southern manner, both dishes came with cornbread and a choice of sides. Personal favorites included creamy macaroni and cheese done with al dente pasta, fine coleslaw, and baked beans with a deep, burnt-sugar flavor.
One night, our waiter urged us to try the Asian lacquered sea bass, a holdover from the restaurant's previous incarnation. It was good, as was a friend's filet mignon, but not nearly as impressive as the more homestyle turkey meat- loaf, a delicious, juicy 16-ounce individual loaf glazed with Heinz ketchup. Nicely cooked horseradish-crusted salmon sported a piquant topping of soft bread crumbs. Chef Harry Poole knows what he's about.
As a finale, I found the Key lime pie struck a good balance between tart and sweet. A more luxurious choice was the warm bananas Foster bread pudding with banana rum sauce and whipped cream. A real debauch, though, was Bloom's own invention, hot fudge sundae French toast, designed to be shared by two or more. Made with thick slices of batter-soaked butter-fried challah topped with bananas, hot fudge, whipped cream, vanilla ice cream, it wore a shiny red cherry on top.
A special-occasion dessert from an every-night kind of place.