When the sign outside a restaurant reads “Beer. Biscuits. Pickles.” I need no further description to know it’s a place I need to try. Jacob’s Pickles on the Upper West Side has all my Southern favorites like fried green tomatoes and collard greens, much of the menu infused with briny goodness, including the drinks. I don’t stray too far from my simple Jack and Diet too often, so the fact that I mulled over my beverage decision for a while is an indication that they have a pretty good bar menu. I almost skipped the alcohol altogether when I saw their list of homemade lemonade, sweet tea, and root bear on tap. But then I remembered it was a Saturday night and decided not to be lame. I went with the Kentucky Porch Sipper, bourbon with muddled lemon/lime/orange and house apple bitters. It was sweet but not overwhelmingly so. It made me long for my porch at home that overlooks the marsh.
For the food it’s no surprise we started with an assortment of pickles, my favorite of which was the spicy green beans. There were several smaller items I wanted to try so we went the sharing route and ordered one entree and several sides/apps. Chicken and waffles is probably the most popular Southern dish to emulate right now so I was happy to see a new riff off it: pancakes. That’s right, we had chicken and pancakes. The pancakes were sweet and the chicken was spicy (with Chick-fil-A style breading – gah) and the bacon sprinkled all over the plate was nice and salty. Yum. It didn’t even need any sort of syrup or honey. For the smaller plates we ordered fried green tomatoes that had grits in the breading, a great touch but the tomatoes should have been cut a little thicker to compete. The collards were mixed with their pickled carrots to add the vinegar flavor I’m used to adding myself at the table. Finally, the side of mac and cheese was massive and easily could have been an entree itself. It was made with sharp white cheddar and was super creamy and delicious.
Southern food is not usually thought of as romantic but with the low lighting, this place is a great date night spot. One of my favorite moments of the evening was trying to figure out if the couple next to us was on their first or second date. Good for them. If someone brought me there on a first date, I’m pretty sure there would be a date #2.