As mentioned countless times before, working in Soho is great. From our perfect office location we get to people watch (whilst working, of course) and also keep an eye on what's popping up here and then. So when I spotted the restaurant across from us being refurbished and adorned with the name Jackson + Rye, I just had to get in touch. But they pre-empted me too and sent out an invitation to the office to come join them on one of their soft opening days before the big launch.
So we headed over on Friday lunch - the perfect end to a busy week. We were greeted by really friendly staff who, as we were shown to our table in the window, explained that we had to choose two courses plus two sides from the menu, which would be free. All we had to pay for was drinks. Great start.
Like something out of the prohibition era, Jackson + Rye is all chrome fittings and tarnished mirrors, huge ceiling fans and a well-stocked bar that stretched round for what seemed like miles. Whilst there's quite a few places cashing in on the 1920s feel, this is a place that's getting it right and doing it well.
The menu, illustrated, folds out into four or so pages of food and drinks with a range of about eight cocktails to start - all reasonably priced between £6 and £8. Whilst tempted, we went for a Vedett each which came over in double time and then as we were browsing the menu, another member of the team came over to give us an idea of the specials (pork belly) and explain some of the dishes (especially grits - which apparently is a little like polenta but made from the ear of wheat). The menu itself is fantastic with a range of bar food such as cheeseburgers, shrimp roll and buttermilk fried chicken sandwich, starters of truffled mac and cheese and beef carpaccio, before next up a number of steaks and even grilled lobster. Trying to choose what to eat was nigh impossible.
In the end, colleague Joe started with the chopped raw tuna with smoked paprika and creme fraiche, whilst I went for the squid with chipotle mayo. Then we moved onto the reuben sandwich (salt beef, sauerkraut and Swiss cheese on a caraway bloomer) which was declared damn good, and the panfried seabass with grilled baby gem and a caper sauce. It was divine. Coupled with regular fries and the skinniest shoestring fries I've ever seen, we devoured every last scrap whilst the staff were the perfect level of attentive.
Prices were surprisingly reasonable and portion sizes were perfect. Our bill would have come to just under £50 for two courses, sides and a drink. Open seven days a week from breakfast until late, this little place might just be what Soho's been missing and I have a funny feeling we'll be making quite a few repeat appearances. Five out of five.