Frankly I'm disappointed in you, my readers. No one appeared to notice my mention of FIVE KILOMETER exercise-type activity. Full disclosure: I may have lopped off the end of the route in order to saunter back with J, T, and the Fatman. But there was running. That has to count for something.
Buoyed by the mind-clearing, back-breaking (a woman of my—aherm—proportions is not meant to pound the pavement) jog, I was feeling peckish and wilting. All of that calorie burning was hard. So I decided to follow the recommended training regimen for any star athlete: I want a-foraging for cocktails and carbohydrates.
It was the most incredible blue-sky day, and Jackson's has a wide, inviting patio with umbrellad tables and demanding menus.
Fine, then. If you insist.
The waiters are laid-back alternafolk, tattooed and pierced and fresh from the vintage-clothing store. They're all friendly, and they're almost without exception dog lovers. (I was once sitting there alone with J and had a waiter ask what he could bring me to drink. When I asked for a Diet Coke, he said, "Oh, no. I meant water for the dog." Expect to play second fiddle if you have only two legs.)
I do have my usual menu quibble with this place. They're massive sheets of paper, just fluttering in the breeze and waiting for the merest gust to send them sailing across the street. Every manner of cell phone, salt and pepper shaker, and artificial sweetener container finds new work as a paperweight. My other complaint? They don't have coasters, so sweating drinks put your legs in their very own climate zone. It's always cloudy with a 70% chance of rain under the tables.
Solution? Order a drink that doesn't require ice.
Or, better yet, make your own. JLB fell in love with the blood orange mimosas, but they no longer make them. So she orders a bottle of their finest (read: least pricey) bottle (read: four) of Champagne (read: sparkling ... something). Then she jets over to the adjacent Tria Market, buys a bottle of blood orange juice, and mixes her own. Look at that bubbly sunrisey blush.
I was feeling indulgent (there was RUNNING), so I ordered the portabella cheesesteak—basically the usual Philly sandwich with mushrooms in place of meat. L Sis, a staunch fungus abhorer, struggled to watch me eat it. I'm pretty sure this meal shows up in her nightmares.
It's not bad—I usually order it when I'm feeling expansive. And in the mood for melty cheese. I'd prefer a little less sauté on the mushrooms. I like them to still have some heft to them, as opposed to being waterlogged. The bread is just. too. much. And it pains me to say that, much as I adore my yeasty boyfriends. But it's an inch thick. It's like eating a nap.
Then again, it's really just a sideshow for these.
They're so good. I know they're fried and salted and taking up permanent residence in my cardiovascular system, but oh my yum. Yes, they're just run-of-the-mill frozen potatoes, but Jackson's has perfected the potato-to-crispy-outside ratio, and they don't drench the little tubers in salt.
They are universally beloved by all mammals. See?
Yes, R is wearing a sweater. He is a delicate flower. He also wins the award for Best Begging Technique, as it seems J doesn't even understand the table orientation (Psst! It's behind you.).
Jackson's is a tough call, because they have terrific outdoor seating, friendly people, and relatively reasonable prices. But the menu somehow manages to be textbook length with nothing to offer. You can stare and stare and stare at it, and you won't see anything jump out at you as a MUST-HAVE meal. The BLT is a little dry. The pasta is a teensy bit oily. The roast beef sandwich contains a questionable cut of meat. Even the wood-fired pizzas, a Jackson's claim to fame, suffer from strange flavor combinations or skimpy toppings. Things are just a bit off, or need better-quality ingredients to really sing.
But it's OK. We'll keep going back. As long as there are blue skies and French fries.
Jackson's Bar & Bistro
1831 28th Avenue South
Homewood, AL 35209