The bar had been set highbefore I even walked through the front door of Jacob’s Kitchen, the southernrestaurant located at 148 Civitas Street in I’On. I called earlier in the dayto make a reservation. “Are we celebrating anything this evening? Girl’s nightout? A birthday? Are there any dietary considerations we should be made awareof?” asked Dan, the voice at the other end of the phone.
“No,” I replied, “Thoughwe do have a vegetarian joining us.”
“Not a problem,” said Dan.“We offer a variety of vegetarian choices. We’ll also be happy to modify any ofthe other items on the menu.”
“If the phone service isany indication,” I thought, “Tonight is going to be fantastic.”
I was wrong.
Jacob’s Kitchen is a smallrestaurant attached to the Inn at I’On. The association with the boutique innis discernable considering the hostess’ stand feels a bit like a hotel checkin. Though comfortable, the restaurant’s interior is nondescript. The walls andnapkins are beige, the tables and chairs are brown and the hanging lightfixtures are black. Unfortunately, Jacob’s Kitchen doesn’t offer the warmth orhospitality one would expect from a restaurant that’s part of a boutique inn,let alone one located in I’On.
The service was, by far,the most disappointing aspect of the meal. My two cohorts and I were havingsome difficulty deciding what to order, as many of the menu items sounded good.Our server was attentive at first, coming back to check on us twice before heleft us to “give us some time to decide.” He gave us far too much time; timeenough to notice that he had taken drink and dinner orders for one table thathad been seated many, many minutes after us. Time enough for the table to ourleft to become disgruntled enough to get up and leave due to being ignored.
During the meal itself,our server never refilled our water glasses. After placing our dinner orders,we overheard another server reciting what sounded like the evening’s dinner specialsto the table behind us. This was the first we had heard of them.
As far as the food is concernedat Jacob’s Kitchen, there aren’t many dishes that scream traditional southerncuisine. Shrimp and Grits ($12) is the only obvious exception. There are, however,southern touches here and there, which align with the restaurant’s ‘newsouthern cuisine’ theme. The Kobe Beef Burger ($10) is topped with pimentocheese. The Olive Oil Braised Duck ($16) includes a warm white bean andasparagus salad, and the Kobe Beef Meatloaf ($12.50) is partnered withsuccotash and red eye gravy.
To start, I ordered the Asparagus“Fries” ($6). Fried in beer batter and served with a Cajun aioli, I’ddefinitely recommend these to anyone. Each asparagus stalk was fried toperfection; the batter itself was crispy, delicious and fluffy. The asparagusthemselves were cooked all the way through yet still had a crunch. TheCajun-spiced aioli was a nice touch, though not completely needed.
As an entrée I ordered theBronzed Scallop & Shrimp Salad ($13). Grilled shrimp and scallops arrivedbefore me atop mixed greens tossed in a buttermilk lime dressing served withartichoke hearts, tomatoes, a large fried grit crouton, cucumbers, crumbledgoat cheese, and mesquite grilled onions. I found myself taking extra biteswilling myself to like this uninspired salad. Aside from the cold grilledmesquite onions and undercooked scallops my biggest complaint was thedisharmonious flavors in the buttermilk lime dressing. The tang of thebuttermilk did not work in concert with the tang of the goat cheese. Theaddition of lime did not help. Three different notes of sourness resulted inunpleasant discord on my tongue. I left almost all of my salad on my plate.
Of course, I tastedeverything else that came to the table.
Jacob’s Wedgie ($5.50) wasa great take on the classic wedge salad. The iceberg wedge was crisp, ice coldand refreshing with just the right amount of bacon, tomatoes and a fantastichouse made blue cheese dressing.
The Steamed Mussels ($9)were good but not outstanding. As she began slurping the lemon-herb and whitewine broth at the bottom of the bowl my friend came across bits of sand andgrit. The flavors were good, just a bit too lemony for me personally.
One large bite into one ofthe Shrimp Spring Rolls ($7) and I wondered, “Where’s the shrimp?” Though theportion size is large, the Shrimp Spring Rolls aren’t anything special.