For the next few weeks I am going to highlight some of my favorite restaurants in my neighborhood on the Upper West Side. Even though I have not been writing about it, I have probably eaten enough for a month’s worth of posts, so I have some catching up to do now that it’s summer time. To begin: Jacob’s Pickles.
In the past three years Jacob’s Pickles has become more than an Upper West Side neighborhood favorite, it has become a destination drinking and dining experience. This upscale Southern restaurant and bar serves a slew of Southern classics as well as a number of dishes to which they have added an updated New York twist.
For starters, Jacob’s boasts a Southern themed cocktail list with the appropriate measure of New York mixology. From their Kentucky Porch Sipper to their Rosemary Vodka Lemonade, Jacob’s Pickles uses craft liquors to create delicious drinks. My personal favorite is the Honey Julep, their take on the classic Mint Julep. In this drink the bartenders modify a classic cocktail by using honey syrup instead of only sugar, which interacts more subtly with the bourbon. The drink is deceptively dangerous, it’s so good you might end up drinking three of them before noticing you can’t stand up from the bar.
In order to counteract the effects of the cocktails, it’s always a good idea to order some of the delectable food options. It should come as no surprise that Jacob’s Pickles is partially known for their assortment of homemade pickles. While a number of their pickles are quite good, especially the spicy and every-crunchy Sweet and Spicy Carrots, the pickles are, in my opinion, not the best items on the menu.
One of my perennial orders is their Biscuits and Fixins, which is a basket filled with a large and crumbly buttermilk biscuit surrounded by strawberry and orange preserves, soft butter, clover honey, and the best of all – maple butter. I find joy in creating endless combinations of the different options, although I have come to the conclusion that the biscuit smothered in maple butter and drizzled with honey is probably my personal favorite.
As for main courses, there are a number of impressive and varied choices from a traditional Southern meal of Biscuits and Gravy or Chicken and Pancakes to a more contemporary dish of Catfish Tacos. All of these are phenomenal, however, there is one choice I can’t seem not to order nearly every time. The Southern BLT is one of the greatest creations I have ever laid upon my taste buds. A piece of buttermilk fried chicken is laid on a bed of pickle slaw, topped with two pieces of crispy bacon and two fried green tomatoes. All of this is housed between halves of one of the aforesaid buttermilk biscuits. If this was not enough, it comes with a side of cheese grits made properly - they are creamy, sticky, and not at all watery.
This dish works well for a couple of reasons. The pickle slaw has more acid than a normal slaw, which counteracts the richness of the chicken, biscuit, and bacon. The fried green tomato serves a similar purpose and also adds a touch of sweetness. The texture and temperature combination is also nearly perfect; there is the crunch of the bacon and fried green tomatoes, the spongy goodness of the biscuit, the hot and flaky chicken, and the crunchy and cool slaw all in one bite. The grits are also always waiting as a break and palate cleanser appropriate to Jacob’s Pickles. I have had this dish on numerous occasions with either a few beers or some Honey Juleps, nearly every time has required a nap shortly thereafter. Do not get the wrong idea, though, for it is not a nap of recovery, shame, or retreat, but a nap of pure contentment.
Make time to go to Jacob’s Pickles between 84th and 85th on Amsterdam in the heart of the Upper West Side, you will not be disappointed. Drink some Southern cocktails and eat reasonably priced Southern food until your eyes begin to droop. Pick out a good spot in the park after you’ve (maybe) finished it all and complete your NYC Southern experience with a well-deserved nap and a smile on your face.