Originally posted about a year ago….funny, it sounds like it could have happened yesterday.Friday night LC and I found the dining room at JCT Kitchen jam packed, despite the torrential downpour and severe thunderstorm warning. We had an evening to ourselves and wanted to enjoy a nice adult meal at a cool place.
Surprisingly, I had never made it to JCT before. It was one of the first restaurants to lure the trendy dining crowd to this somewhat industrialized neighborhood. Everything I had heard was positive so I was excited to give it a go.
The space is open, exuding warmth and simplicity, much like its neighbors Quinones Room and Baccanalia in the same complex. Across the way is the White Provisions building home to culinary star Abattoir and right next to the original Yeah! Burger.
Seated across from each other at a two-top along the wall, LC commented that conversation was nearly impossible, given the constant chatter from tables nearby. It was true, the atmosphere was anything but intimate. We would have preferred the patio had the weather cooperated.
We started with cocktails from their creative list, utilizing spirits like bitters, bourbon and rye, which has become rather de rigeur for upscale trendy restaurants these days. I was excited to see a sloe gin fizz on the list, taking me back to my childhood when my parents hosted card games and my Mom made this drink by the pitcher.
After delivering our cocktails, our server read off an entire menu’s worth of specials. I almost stopped him, having already decided on the bacon wrapped pork loin, when he said the word “duck”. The game had instantly changed. It was a breast and confit, I assumed a leg, with an orange champagne sauce served with sauteed peppers….a weird pairing but he had me at “duck”.
But first we wanted to sample a couple of starters, the “angry” mussels and the bacon wrapped figs with blue cheese. We found both dishes to be very impressive. The figs were not baked but rather raw, sliced in half with a thick strip of chewy bacon intertwined among the halves, which rested in an intensely sharp blue cheese sauce that provided the appropriate balance to the dish. A smattering of toasted almonds added a fun crunchy element.
A medium-sized bowl of mussles arrived, steaming in their aromatic broth flavored with peppered bacon, serano chilis, and onion. Although small, the shellfish were great. I especially enjoyed dipping the crusty rustic bread in the spicy broth. We loved ’em!
When our server checked in I switched to prosecco. LC ordered the shrimp ‘n’ grits and I went for the duck, of course. His dish was richer than the Kennedys, grits engulfed in cheeses and butter, topped with shrimp and a battered and deep fried poached egg. A week’s worth of calories and fat, but decadently delicious.
My duck, however, was not exactly what I expected. Yes, the breast was nicely displayed with a crispy skin. Based upon our server’s description, I was expecting a leg confit, but instead the breast was served on a mound of shredded confit, seasoned with the orange champagne sauced described, creating a concoction which sort of reminded me of BBQ. The oily, crispy, gaminess of the confit was entirely lost. I wasn’t thrilled about the peppers to begin with and they did little to elevate the entree.
An unexpected favorite of the evening was the side dish of corn succotash that LC ordered. Bathed in butter, it was the epitome of Summer in the South. Ironically LC had actually changed his order to the squash, but it was a happy mistake.
We decided to forego edible dessert in favor of the liquid variety upstairs at JCT Bar. An acoustic guitarist entertained the crowd of thirty-somethings inside as the drizzle continued outside. A train chugged past as we headed to the car, anxious to get home and work off the surplus calories.
1198 Howell Mill Road 404-355-2252