Listen, I’m going to be honest here. The main problem with Jack’s is that it’s right next door to the very best pizza joint in the Bay Area. Anytime I find myself at Jack’s, I make a right turn and go to Windy City instead. I just can’t help it. With an effort of extreme willpower, I finally managed to drag myself into Jack’s on a recent Sunday afternoon. The guilt of ignoring this restaurant for so long was causing me to lose sleep at night… or maybe it was those pizza rolls I had right before bedtime. Well, no matter. Here I was at Jack’s, and I was determined to give it a fair review.
” It should never be obvious that lamb is actually lamb “
The place was reasonably crowded on this particular Sunday, a good sign, and the sportsbar-ish interior was contemporary and clean. Jack’s has a relatively extensive menu, and while there are plenty of common staples, there are also a good amount of unique offerings. My lunch party and I chose a couple of these: A lamb burger with garlic oregano fries and an order of Italian mac & cheese.
It didn’t take long at all for the food to arrive, and it looked so good I (nearly) stopped second-guessing myself for not going to Windy City. The Italian mac was nothing short of divine. It’s a simple dish, yes, but it was executed very well and had just the right mix of cheese to sauce to meaty sausage bits. Mac and cheese in general tends to be a throw-away dish; my theory is that too many cooks/chefs treat it like it’s easy to make and don’t spend the necessary time on it. The kitchen crew at Jacks’s did their homework though, because it was exactly as good as I hoped it would be.
The lamb burger was, fortunately, not too lamb-y. In other words, they used good quality, fresh lamb and cooked it properly. Carefully prepared lamb is delicious and savory, better than the most perfect, tender beef you’ve ever had. It should never be obvious that lamb is actually lamb. The burger had a very good flavor profile all around, and it paired well with the crispy garlic oregano fries. I must report that it did not reheat very well at all, but then again burgers rarely do and lamb even less so. One more reason to just eat the whole thing while you’re still at the restaurant.
Well hey, whaddya know. I made it to the end of the meal without leaving once to get a pizza. Jack’s genuinely impressed me, and I very much enjoyed my meal. It’s a straightforward, honest eatery that does a solid job on execution, and there is enough variety for picky eaters and curious types alike. I rate Jack’s 18 out of 20 pounds of piz… um, I meant lamb burgers. It is most certainly worth a visit, provided you have the willpower to stay away from the deep dish next door.
+ Good menu variety
– Sometimes a bit ordinary
+ But there’s something for everyone
+ Great kitchen execution
– Overshadowed by the joint next door
Jack’s Restaurant & Bar
Multiple locations around the Bay Area
P.S. I tried, I really did, but I just couldn’t leave San Mateo without a pizza. I stopped by Windy City on the way out and picked up a deep dish for later. Problem solved.