Although Chiswick is not short of cocktail bars, brunch destinations, or places to catch a lovely evening meal with friends, there’s always room for more.
Restaurants like this are often about expectation; I never truly got to the bottom of why or how a restaurant that opened its first branch only six months before the Chiswick opening had such hype and apparent following already, but Jackson & Rye certainly had many local Tweeters excited about their imminent arrival. Six months on and does this High Road destination match the buzz?
Jackson & Rye has an all-day menu: main dishes for around the £10 mark, or a range of brunches from £8. After a heavy night and a long lie-in I was certainly ready for the “unch” part of brunch.
The truffled mac & cheese was an absolute hit. Perfect for a brunch starter.
The slight dryness of the corn bread might be forgiven because of its flavour and the sour cream dip, but sadly this corn bread at £3.75 is not a patch on the freshly baked double-sized American corn bread just a few minutes down the road at Outsider Tart.
The scallops were cooked to perfection and the accompanying sauce was tasty.
Well, this is a lovely hearty American favourite but – and it is unusual for me to be so price sensitive – at that kind of dollar you might expect prawns to be seriously good (these were not), not to mention it should probably be in a far bigger dish. Again, a lovely starter with a decent chilli kick but I can’t say this is good value for money.
I hear the buttermilk chicken is a favourite of Jackson & Rye clientele. It’s a pretty big dish; filling, a bit spicy, and the chicken was beautifully juicy. The batter was dirty, depending on whether you like that this is either a good thing or a bad thing! Personally I was in the mood for that and found it addictive.
The slaw is supposed to be chunky but for my tastes it wasn’t spicy enough and I prefer a more vinegary, finer style of slaw. Personal taste aside, it must have been left out a long time because it had yellowed and was below par. As for the sweet potato chips, these are practically ubiquitous for mid-range eateries nowadays but these ones were tasty and nicely seasoned.
The swordfish was perhaps the biggest let-down of the whole meal. It was on the specials menu and had a price to match. Presentation was good and you can’t fault the combination of ingredients.
The rub? It was rubbery. Overcooked fish makes me so sad.
Pecan Pie. Lovely flavours, crispy top, moist middle, nutty buttery base. Again, I’m not the price-sensitive type, but value for money is important when I eat out, and for £6 you can pick up a pecan pie at Anglesea Arms which will blow your socks off, and although this was a solid effort you see my point.
Such a destination eating and drinking venue is up against serious competition from some of Chiswick’s well-established local independent bistros and restaurants. How can an American diner concept bar, exported from Soho with its West-End service, hope to thrive in Chiswick where locals expect to know the restaurateur or bar staff by name? I am of course talking about the likes of Sam’s or Charlotte’s, but perhaps even High Road Brasserie.
Whilst Jackson & Rye is not to be compared with these restaurants in terms of its pricing, clearly the expectation you have when you walk through the door is somewhat similar. Jackson & Rye pride themselves on value for money but when all dishes stack up, you are still spending about £40 per head for a filling but so-so brunch or evening meal with a drink. Indeed another couple who were brunching at the same time as us were overheard to be disappointed with the amount of money spent when taking the quality of food into consideration, and said that they may as well have gone to High Road Brasserie, spent a couple of extra quid, but really enjoy the food and brunch experience there. I haven’t employed poetic licence here, that did happen!
I would certainly go back for breakfast to try their baked ham and eggs or salt beef hash. And would love an evening working through that huge library of rye whiskeys seated in their cosy interior, but I sadly would not shortlist Jackson & Rye as a dining favourite for the rest of the day. I love honest, rustic, hearty food at a decent price, but it doesn’t deliver on that front.
That said, if you are part of a group of friends deciding where to dine on the High Road and Byron, Pizza Express, and Bill’s have so far been contenders, certainly throw Jackson & Rye into the suggestion pot and I reckon you will certainly be thanked by your friends.