Earlier this year, Jack’s Waterfront Restaurant was the subject of Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares, which means the restaurant was remade after a consultation from the obscenity-dropping, master restaurateur. Apparently, the food was starting to suffer and the decoration inside the restaurant was old and dusty; but I have no real knowledge of what the restaurant was before the makeover, so I’m judging it with no preconceived notions as to the changes made.
Note: The episode will air in the fall.
- More about entertainment than dining
- Kids menu (no seafood)
- Sandwiches served ala carte
- Prompt and efficient wait staff
The bread-and-butter clientele of Jack’s Waterfront Restaurant is apparently boaters and night-time partiers, and the restaurant doesn’t seem all that interested in luring out suburbanites for seafood on the water. The website is enlightening in this regard. Although it is set up to provide pages and pages of information, most of the menu options are under construction or only partially complete. One notable exception is the photos section, which has loads of pictures of the restaurant’s many parties and events.
Without having seen the episode of Kitchen Nightmares featuring Jack’s, which is due to air in the fall, I can’t know how much of Ramsay’s consultation was kept by the owners. My feeling is that the owners only kept some of Ramsey’s ideas. The food is good, but the menu does not focus on seafood and offers way too many dishes. The dining room could use some music and new furniture to complete the sea-shanty illusion. There are many interesting features to Jack’s, but they seem to clash with each other. For instance, much of the building and patio is obviously set up for a bar crowd, which clashes sharply with a dining room that is set up like a banquet hall.
Location and Lay Out
The restaurant is down a pier, quite a bit away from the “nautical mile” on Jefferson Avenue, which means it shares parking with the boaters who dock in the area. Although finding a close spot was not easy, the restaurant itself was pretty empty for lunch. The restaurant’s location is put to good use in that it has a covered patio bordering the pier’s edge. The tables on the patio are set up for a bar crowd rather than true dining, however, as the tables are tall, small and surrounded by stools. The building itself is an old Quonset hut, which once served as a venue for boat repair.
When you enter the restaurant, it is into the bar area, which is lofty, wooden and dark even at the height of noon. There is an actual boat making up part of the architecture, its bow serving as outside decoration and a winding staircase up from the bar floor leads to some truly unique seating on its deck. An area in the bar is set aside for a band and dance floor.
The restaurant is in the back of the building, meaning that you walk through the bar to get to the hostess stand. Surrounded by windows that take in the passing boats, the dining-room is lofty and light. Corrugated steel on the walls and dinghies hanging from the ceiling give the dining room a shanty-type atmosphere. A large, stone fireplace is off to one side, undoubtedly providing a roaring fire in winter months. Unfortunately, that’s where the motif begins and ends. Green plaid carpeting, rounded green vinyl booths and banquet tables and chairs complete the dining room and clash sharply with the otherwise nautical decoration.
The restaurant is very, very quiet at lunch, which makes it seem all the emptier for the lack of other patrons. In fact, there is no music at all.
Having watched Kitchen Nightmares, the menu came as a surprise. Ramsay is big on keeping the menu simple, fresh and focused. As a lake-side restaurant, fish would seem to be the specialty. While there was seafood, the menu was dominated by a long list of beef entrees. While there were more seafood options in the “starters” part of the menu, it also had options ranging from Saganaki to steak tips.
The Poached Salmon was served in a big bowl of broth and with loads of vegetables. The portion of salmon was large and fresh, but the dish itself was a little bland. Its description on the menu contained the words “fresh” and “simplistic,” which smack of Ramsay’s influence, but it is impossible to tell if it is one of Ramsay’s dishes or not.
The French dip sandwich was served on a fresh, warm Kaiser roll. It had plenty of lean beef and was well seasoned. The dip was served in a small, pewter bowl, which kept it warm and was one of the few touches on the white-table-clothed table that fit in with the restaurant’s theme. The au juice itself, however, was thickened with flour, and was therefore more of a gravy.