At almost 20 years old, R.S. Jones in Merrick is still high on the popularity charts. At least that's the way it looked the evening I stopped for dinner at the country-Western-themed spot. A live band was playing to a full house — a combination that can make it hard to hear yourself think.
I know, from past experience, what chef Carole Olkoski is capable of. Even so, I found myself wanting more oomph in some dishes. A cup of the gumbo du jour ($4.25), which had chicken, rice and vegetables, was thick and hearty, but it was hard to distinguish much difference in flavor between that and the vegetable chili ($3.95). Both were assertively tomato-y, like V-8 juice. Barbecued chicken ($18.95), while not deeply smoky, was good and savory, accompanied by ultrarich mashed potatoes, collard greens and corn. Biscuits, served with a cream gravy ($3.95), were curiously flat in shape. Even so, they were nearly, if not quite, as light and flaky as remembered.
R.S. Jones is at 153 Merrick Ave., Merrick, 516-378-7177.
Above: Barbecued chicken with mashed potatoes at R.S. Jones in Merrick