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Big Jones--"Contemporary coastal Southern cuisine"

Big Jones--"Contemporary coastal Southern cuisine"
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  • Big Jones--"Contemporary coastal Southern cuisine"

    Post #1 - March 31st, 2008, 5:20 pm
    Post #1 - March 31st, 2008, 5:20 pm Post #1 - March 31st, 2008, 5:20 pm
    Well, folks, we got us (another) new neighbor in Andersonville: Big Jones, who advertises "contemporary coastal Southern cuisine." According to their website, "Our primary influences are the cuisines of New Orleans, the American South, and French kitchen techniques. Locally produced, organic ingredients will be emphasized and featured. In addition to fresh, creative food, Big Jones offers locally craft-brewed beers, an extensive wine by the glass list, classic cocktails, and full coffee bar service."

    The website has their brunch, tea (!), and dinner menus (contemporary would seem an appropriate descriptor and there are some interesting things on the menus) as well as this blurb on the chef: "Paul Fehribach is the executive chef and co-owner of Big Jones. He has twenty-three years of experience in the industry, including long tenures at legendary venues Hi Ricky Asia Noodle Shop in Chicago and the Laughing Planet Cafe in Bloomington, Indiana."

    Well, then.

    For those eager to find out first-hand, they've just announced a preview celebration on April 8 to benefit eco-Andersonville, a community environmental initiative. (Details on their website.)

    I'm sure hopin' they live up to the promise (as Frida's, their close-by, also-new, neighbor, sadly, has not).

    Big Jones
    5347 N. Clark
    Chicago, IL
    (773) 275-5725
    Gypsy Boy

    "I am not a glutton--I am an explorer of food." (Erma Bombeck)
  • Post #2 - March 31st, 2008, 5:30 pm
    Post #2 - March 31st, 2008, 5:30 pm Post #2 - March 31st, 2008, 5:30 pm
    I bet this place will be wonderful. But as I was perusing the website, I couldn't help but giggle a little. There are no prices, and based on description this place is likely to be very expensive. Slightly less upscale, and yet wonderful versions of this food are available all over the south for a fraction of the price. Like I said, this place is probably going to be very good. It is just that since I grew up in a small town in Tennessee, the likely price of what I think of as "down home" food is pretty funny.
    As for butter versus margarine, I trust cows more than chemists. ~Joan Gussow
  • Post #3 - March 31st, 2008, 6:04 pm
    Post #3 - March 31st, 2008, 6:04 pm Post #3 - March 31st, 2008, 6:04 pm
    AmeliaB wrote:There are no prices, and based on description this place is likely to be very expensive. Slightly less upscale, and yet wonderful versions of this food are available all over the south for a fraction of the price.

    How can you come to such a conclusion without actually knowing what the prices will be?
  • Post #4 - March 31st, 2008, 6:10 pm
    Post #4 - March 31st, 2008, 6:10 pm Post #4 - March 31st, 2008, 6:10 pm
    You are absolutely right. I am guessing based on the way the menu describes the food. We will absolutely have to wait and see. I was just imagining the prices versus what I used to eat at home for fun.
    As for butter versus margarine, I trust cows more than chemists. ~Joan Gussow
  • Post #5 - March 31st, 2008, 6:17 pm
    Post #5 - March 31st, 2008, 6:17 pm Post #5 - March 31st, 2008, 6:17 pm
    nsxtasy wrote:
    AmeliaB wrote:There are no prices, and based on description this place is likely to be very expensive. Slightly less upscale, and yet wonderful versions of this food are available all over the south for a fraction of the price.

    How can you come to such a conclusion without actually knowing what the prices will be?

    Well for sure it will be more expensive than a lunchtime "meat and three" or vegetable plate in a small town in Tennessee! I agree with AmeliaB, this does look really good though.
    Last edited by grits on April 2nd, 2008, 9:53 am, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #6 - April 1st, 2008, 8:47 pm
    Post #6 - April 1st, 2008, 8:47 pm Post #6 - April 1st, 2008, 8:47 pm
    Prices are now posted on the Dinner Menu. Entrees range from $12 for the Gumbo Ya Ya to $24 for the baby back ribs. Looks like it should be an interesting addition to the neighborhood.
  • Post #7 - April 20th, 2008, 8:26 pm
    Post #7 - April 20th, 2008, 8:26 pm Post #7 - April 20th, 2008, 8:26 pm
    Ate at Big Jones for Brunch this weekend. The menu was considerably one of the better brunch menus I have seen. The menu was anchored on a small selection of 'American Tradition' items and a selection of several egg dishes, most of which are plays on the benedict. Each item had several nuances that really set it apart from the usual selection you would get at other higher caliber breakfast places. Check there menu out online if you want to know the specifics.

    My wife had the Eggs New Orleans, essentially an eggs benedict with Crab Cakes on a fresh baked popover (no english muffin here!) I had the Shrimp and Biscuits with a tomato gumbo.

    The main components of each dish was prepared very well, - eggs were poached perfectly (gooey, not runny) biscuits were crunchy on top and fluffy and tender. Another standout was the selection of tea available. My wife had a black tea infused with lychee. It really was fabulous.

    Unfortunately, not everything was exactly perfect (it isn't a surprise given we were there on only the 10th day of business) The hash browns were pretty much burnt (they weren't terrible, but a little more charred than they should have been.) Service was also going through growing pains, while we were cheerfully greeted at the door by the owner, and put on a wait while tables sat waiting to be bussed. The atmosphere between the service staff was generally chaos, and the kitchen was obviously backed up creating a wait for food about 45 minutes. I wouldn't pay too much attention or worry about this, as these things will work themselves out in a few weeks.


    Growing pains aside, this place is really top notch and the food, the parts of it that were executed well, was spectacular. Ingredients are sourced from familiar and more unique sources (Nuske Ham, Bacon etc.) and the menu was really quite breathtaking. On the Andersonville drag (that is Clark street 5000 N to 5700 N or so) Big Jones has the very real potential to become the best nicer mid-tier restaurant on the block. The only real competition is Anteprima, perhaps a taste off to determine the reigning champion of Andersonville?
    There is no accounting for taste!
  • Post #8 - April 20th, 2008, 8:44 pm
    Post #8 - April 20th, 2008, 8:44 pm Post #8 - April 20th, 2008, 8:44 pm
    Jessewolfe1 wrote:The only real competition is Anteprima, perhaps a taste off to determine the reigning champion of Andersonville?

    If you're talking about brunch, I think the reigning champion is M. Henry...
  • Post #9 - April 22nd, 2008, 6:23 pm
    Post #9 - April 22nd, 2008, 6:23 pm Post #9 - April 22nd, 2008, 6:23 pm
    Opening service issues aside...I had a nice dinner at Big Jones on Saturday night. A few misses on the menu (dessert looks far better on paper than in reality--dry, dense red velvet and very un-peachy peach ice cream covered in pumpkin sauce), but the absolute highlight was the ham and cheese (pimento and tasso) on Sally Lunn bread. Magnificent bread, nice, smoky tasso and a good slathering of pimento cheese.

    The sandwich comes on a pile of fried potatoes, okra and onions. Potatoes were kind of limp and greasy. I'd order the upcharge salad next time.

    Nice drink menu--original Sazerac was tasty, but the lemon-y mint julep, not so much.

    I'm going back for anything made with that bread...
  • Post #10 - April 22nd, 2008, 7:49 pm
    Post #10 - April 22nd, 2008, 7:49 pm Post #10 - April 22nd, 2008, 7:49 pm
    Was the okra good?
    What if the Hokey Pokey really IS what it's all about?
  • Post #11 - April 22nd, 2008, 7:57 pm
    Post #11 - April 22nd, 2008, 7:57 pm Post #11 - April 22nd, 2008, 7:57 pm
    Cogito wrote:Was the okra good?


    The okra pieces were crispier than the potatoes, but the whole mix together seemed a bit heavy for the plate.
  • Post #12 - April 25th, 2008, 8:37 am
    Post #12 - April 25th, 2008, 8:37 am Post #12 - April 25th, 2008, 8:37 am
    We had a great dinner at Big Jones last night with five people. The service was extremely attentive, and though the drinks took a little while, we never waited too long for the food. I thought the mint juleps were very refreshing, though the second round had more bourbon than the first (a good thing).

    As for the food, we tried the potatoe croquettes to start and they were really nice. We also tried the mushroom pie which was a crab and mushroom empanada and it was more crust than filling, but still tasty.

    Everyone was very happy with their entrees, the pilau was excellent, very fresh shrimp & oysters with a bit of a kick in the sauce. The others ordered the chicken with grits ( They raved about the grits, but ate them before I got a chance to try), the gumbo & the eggplant fritter sandwich. I sampled some of the fried okra that came with the sandwich and it was really great and didn't seem too greasy to me. I also loved the bottomless boiled peanuts. I'm looking forward to going back, the brunch menu looks delicious.
  • Post #13 - April 26th, 2008, 12:01 pm
    Post #13 - April 26th, 2008, 12:01 pm Post #13 - April 26th, 2008, 12:01 pm
    Cranky Review Alert...

    Hey all -- i had brunch at Big Jones this morning and I have to say I was really disappointed. Maybe my expectations were too high -- i love southern comfort food and I was so looking forward to having a great southern place not only in Chicago itself but in my very own hood and so my disappointment might be in proportion to those expectations.

    First of all -- i liked the light airy feel of the place -- pastel walls and higher ceilings -- the former restaurant, Augie's, always made me feel so claustrophic with its darkness. Plus...really comfy chairs -- sort of southern kitschy but quite pleasant on the rear end. I don't get why the waiters wear severe black though -- seems less than hospitable.

    Secondly -- while my service was perfectly fine -- cordial enough, my water glass was filled pretty well, my food didn't take too long, i got what I needed relatively soon after I asked for it -- but they have some things that really irritated me. I like pepper. Lots and lots of pepper -- especially on eggs and grits and when I requested it, I was brought a salt shaker and a huge pepper mill that only the waiter could operate. I don't particularly like this practice in any restaurant but for breakfst it really irritates me. On that same note -- they don't carry sugars, fake or otherwise. They supply you with simple syrup or a syrup substitute. They have good coffee but I"m one of those annoying people who really likes my coffee sweetened and light. The coffee is brought with steamed milk but you can't control how much they put in. For breakfast...I want that control. I also like my splenda, thank you very much. The whole fussiness of the service (we do this for you, you just sit there) turned me off.

    That would all be water under the bridge if the food had lived up to my standards -- which it most certainly did not. They committed the cardinal sin of bad breakfasts -- instead of a lovely poached egg -- i had a hard boiled nasty thing whose yolk required a sharp knife to dig into. Such a disappointment! The overall temperature of my whole plate was rather cold too -- as if they had had the plate sitting back there for weeks before they served it to me. I would have sent it back for another try but my Saturdays are filled with errands and cleaning and I had to get a move on. The "potatoes o'brien" were really hash browns with scallions and had they been a temperature above tepid, I'm sure i would have enjoyed them much more. They placed about 10 grapes on the plate as garnish -- i don't get that -- it wasn't artful -- it was a handful of grapes plopped in my hollandaise. I have no problem with grapes -- but when they're dripping in hollandaise, they lose their appeal. The very thick slices of country ham on the benedict were salty and tasty but again, quite cold. I did like the taste of the popover and the texture was good but the poached egg really burned me. it should ooze and drip golden yolk mixing with the hollandaise. I ordered a side of the cheese grits because i was curious -- i'm not a very big grits person and the side they brought me was huge -- but I will say they were tasty. Probably the tastiest thing on my table -- and certainly the hottest.

    Beignets are presented as you sit -- they were appropriately dripping in powdered sugar -- but I can say that the ones I've had the massive chain Grand Lux Cafe were tastier. I have never been to New Orleans so I have no originals to compare them to.

    I think this place has a long way to go to be competitive with m. henry and even Ann Sather. Ann Sather's at least knows how to poach an egg.

    Total cost of coffee, benedict, and a side of grits -- $17.01.

    I'll try 'em again in a month or so....maybe I was just too early to the party.

    s
  • Post #14 - April 27th, 2008, 9:53 am
    Post #14 - April 27th, 2008, 9:53 am Post #14 - April 27th, 2008, 9:53 am
    Yeah - I thought the syrup only was a little too gimmicky. I had a better overall experience (food was good) but I too like to command my coffee.

    I guess there are some things you just don't mess with.
    There is no accounting for taste!
  • Post #15 - April 27th, 2008, 10:33 am
    Post #15 - April 27th, 2008, 10:33 am Post #15 - April 27th, 2008, 10:33 am
    earthlydesire wrote:I'll try 'em again in a month or so....maybe I was just too early to the party.


    What a disappointment. We'd been looking forward to getting over to Clark Street to try this out, but your review (and others) have made me more than a little cautious. The pepper and the coffee stories cut to the heart of the problem, I think. And you've just convinced us to wait. Let's hope that as things settle down, they learn. We'd really like to have this place succeed and I hope they get it straightened out soon.
    Gypsy Boy

    "I am not a glutton--I am an explorer of food." (Erma Bombeck)
  • Post #16 - April 27th, 2008, 10:59 am
    Post #16 - April 27th, 2008, 10:59 am Post #16 - April 27th, 2008, 10:59 am
    Gypsy Boy wrote:And you've just convinced us to wait.


    Wait, or go on any day/night other than Friday, Saturday or Sunday when they're not so slammed.
  • Post #17 - April 27th, 2008, 11:16 am
    Post #17 - April 27th, 2008, 11:16 am Post #17 - April 27th, 2008, 11:16 am
    crrush wrote:
    Gypsy Boy wrote:And you've just convinced us to wait.


    Wait, or go on any day/night other than Friday, Saturday or Sunday when they're not so slammed.


    Except that earthlydesire's review suggested issues--such as the pepper and the coffee--that have nothing whatsoever to do with being slammed. That, and the apparent unevenness of the reviews, is why I think it makes sense to wait and give things a chance to shake out before going. I'm hardly in a position to believe or disbelieve any of the various reviews so far, particularly since they seem to be a bit all over the place. Therefore, the wisest course of action, to my mind, is to believe pretty much everything that's been said--after all, it represents one subjectively true experience--and wait until the balance tilts more positively in favor of the restaurant.
    Gypsy Boy

    "I am not a glutton--I am an explorer of food." (Erma Bombeck)
  • Post #18 - April 27th, 2008, 11:43 am
    Post #18 - April 27th, 2008, 11:43 am Post #18 - April 27th, 2008, 11:43 am
    I'd be willing to believe they can do better when not slammed (though I think going into business serving breakfast in a hot neighborhood means being ready to be slammed on the weekends) but...

    Total cost of coffee, benedict, and a side of grits -- $17.01


    Ouch! I expect eggs benedict to be on the pricier side, but that's still at least $3-4 more than seems sane to me. I think Tre Kronor is high-ish and you'd get out of there for $13, surely, having had exemplary benedict, potatoes on the side and coffee, as well as paying full danegeld to Kings Daley and Stroger. Next time, have shrimp and grits at C.J.'s and barely crease a ten spot.
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  • Post #19 - April 27th, 2008, 11:55 am
    Post #19 - April 27th, 2008, 11:55 am Post #19 - April 27th, 2008, 11:55 am
    earthlydesire wrote:On that same note -- they don't carry sugars, fake or otherwise. They supply you with simple syrup or a syrup substitute. They have good coffee but I"m one of those annoying people who really likes my coffee sweetened and light. The coffee is brought with steamed milk but you can't control how much they put in. For breakfast...I want that control. I also like my splenda, thank you very much.

    Using plain simple syrup for coffee seems a little strange. I could see if they were serving coffee with chicory and offered molasses as an additional option. Otherwise it just seems sort of aesthetically yucky.
    "things like being careful with your coriander/ that's what makes the gravy grander" - Sondheim
  • Post #20 - April 27th, 2008, 12:57 pm
    Post #20 - April 27th, 2008, 12:57 pm Post #20 - April 27th, 2008, 12:57 pm
    As a native southerner, I can assure you that, if breakfast costs more than five bucks, it ain't really southern. $17 breakfasts are for yankees and tourists staying at a nice hotel.
  • Post #21 - April 27th, 2008, 7:51 pm
    Post #21 - April 27th, 2008, 7:51 pm Post #21 - April 27th, 2008, 7:51 pm
    Guys -- it wasn't slammed. By the time I left it was fairly full but I would not say slammed at all. And nothing whatsoever excuses the bad poached eggs, honestly.

    As to the syrup thing -- I will say that when i was there I did tell my waitress that the fake simple syrup simply didn't do a good job. And that I heartily recommended a switch to actual sugar/fake sugar. You know...if they were serving sugar cubes -- i'd get that. It's sort of an old world elegance thing that's appealing. But the simple syrup -- I thoughti t was pretty icky too. And a simple syrup substitute? Just totally unappealing -- it reminded me of friends who put skim milk in their coffee -- which I find incomprehensible. Skim milk is like water! When I want to lighten my coffee -- I want the real stuff, man. Whole milk, half and half...light cream! Also -- i really don't think the coffee had chicory. It tasted like good ol' Intelligentsia to me -- which was the only thing that made it palatable to my "i hate my coffee black" tongue.

    As to the price -- I was stating it for a fact over complaining about it. I usually spend $10-15 on a weekend breakfast and if i go to m. henry or Tweet it's easily more expensive than that. I wish the food had been as good as what I would get at m.henry or Tweet.

    And I've had lots of diner breakfasts in Atlanta that were more than $5. Mm....the Majestic's biscuits! Now THAT's good eats.
  • Post #22 - April 27th, 2008, 8:26 pm
    Post #22 - April 27th, 2008, 8:26 pm Post #22 - April 27th, 2008, 8:26 pm
    Ask most southerners if Atlanta is the South and they'll tell you "no". Neither is Florida south of Daytona. Macon and Jacksonville are though.
  • Post #23 - April 28th, 2008, 10:15 am
    Post #23 - April 28th, 2008, 10:15 am Post #23 - April 28th, 2008, 10:15 am
    YourPalWill wrote:Ask most southerners if Atlanta is the South and they'll tell you "no".

    I would say Atlanta is still the South, but there are a lot of Northern transplants. It is kind of the Chicago of the South in terms of the feel. But to me, Chicago is still part of the Midwest and Atlanta is still part of the South. Bringing it back to food, I will say it's pretty hard to get a $5 breakfast in Atlanta if that's the bar though. :wink:
    "things like being careful with your coriander/ that's what makes the gravy grander" - Sondheim
  • Post #24 - April 28th, 2008, 1:25 pm
    Post #24 - April 28th, 2008, 1:25 pm Post #24 - April 28th, 2008, 1:25 pm
    YourPalWill wrote:Ask most southerners if Atlanta is the South and they'll tell you "no". Neither is Florida south of Daytona. Macon and Jacksonville are though.


    Without getting too picky, Eustis is south of Daytona and the ribs at Kings are as southern as anything in Jacksonville. Maybe cut it off at Titusville.
  • Post #25 - April 29th, 2008, 5:52 pm
    Post #25 - April 29th, 2008, 5:52 pm Post #25 - April 29th, 2008, 5:52 pm
    YourPalWill wrote:Ask most southerners if Atlanta is the South and they'll tell you "no". Neither is Florida south of Daytona. Macon and Jacksonville are though.


    Someone should have told that to Sherman back in 1864!
    Why does man kill? He kills for food. And not only food: frequently there must be a beverage.
    Woody Allen
  • Post #26 - May 5th, 2008, 1:27 pm
    Post #26 - May 5th, 2008, 1:27 pm Post #26 - May 5th, 2008, 1:27 pm
    shadetree wrote:
    YourPalWill wrote:Ask most southerners if Atlanta is the South and they'll tell you "no". Neither is Florida south of Daytona. Macon and Jacksonville are though.


    Without getting too picky, Eustis is south of Daytona and the ribs at Kings are as southern as anything in Jacksonville. Maybe cut it off at Titusville.


    LOL, as someone who albeit was born in Chicago, and has 2 southern parents, I'd probably put the Florida cutoff line at a different point than that. :) Just my own opinion though, heh.....
  • Post #27 - May 7th, 2008, 8:06 am
    Post #27 - May 7th, 2008, 8:06 am Post #27 - May 7th, 2008, 8:06 am
    earthlydesire wrote:it reminded me of friends who put skim milk in their coffee -- which I find incomprehensible. Skim milk is like water! When I want to lighten my coffee -- I want the real stuff, man.


    Sorry to hear about your negative experience. I was mildly amused when I read the release from Dish about this place... I just assumed it would be half as good and twice as expensive as comfort food that is a bit more of a hike. hello~ why isn't there a good soul food place in Uptown... it should be making a killin' (pre-gentrified old school meets urban hipster dufus).

    Anyway, a quick note regarding your incomprehension :wink:

    I believe it is actually the lactic acid that mollifies the bitter tannins in coffee and tea, which is availble in skim milk. We had quite a discussion about this when I took a class at the Chicago Wine School. Both heat and lactic acid mollify bitter characteristics... it is why white wine (less or no tannins) is served chilled... big reds less so. Iced teas and coffees more likely to be sweetened than warm. Dairy, such as cheese, is also used to mollify the bitter characteristics of wine. The wine merchant's adage: buy wine with bread, sell wine with cheese.

    pd
    Unchain your lunch money!
  • Post #28 - May 7th, 2008, 8:22 am
    Post #28 - May 7th, 2008, 8:22 am Post #28 - May 7th, 2008, 8:22 am
    The adage is actually buy wine with apples and sell wine with cheese. Bread would be in between the two, and would not affect the flavor of the wine.
  • Post #29 - May 7th, 2008, 9:24 am
    Post #29 - May 7th, 2008, 9:24 am Post #29 - May 7th, 2008, 9:24 am
    i love the reply's to this topic and would enjoy reading more regarding the Big Jones experience,preferably from those who have been there and tried their food.
  • Post #30 - May 7th, 2008, 11:17 am
    Post #30 - May 7th, 2008, 11:17 am Post #30 - May 7th, 2008, 11:17 am
    deesher wrote:The adage is actually buy wine with apples and sell wine with cheese. Bread would be in between the two, and would not affect the flavor of the wine.


    Yeah, apples was my second choice... I couldn't remember at 6:30am this morning. Cheese=rounds tannins; apples=highlights bitter notes and immature wines; bread=neutral.

    Now back to the food... I too would like to see additional reviews of Big Jones... I will make it there eventually, but I am not in a rush.

    pd
    Unchain your lunch money!

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