509 Amsterdam Avenue
New York, NY 10024
Down home country cookin' has been taking root in northern cities for a few years and now the upper west side of Manhattan has its outpost for biscuits and gravy. Jacob's Pickles, so named because Jacob likes his pickles and shows off said pickling in many a way, is one of the better examples you could find here in the city.
Jacob's Pickles was first recommended to me by Mr. Dogz, who used to reside only a few blocks away. He now lives considerably further from Jacob's Pickles than he used to, so I found myself here with Emma, Gloron, and a few others one bright Saturday. We were led to a long communal table in the rear and given a half dozen seats at the near end. JP is coated in raw brick, exposed wood and tons of light from the floor to ceiling windows in front and the unobstructed windows in the back. Most of the seating in the front is the standard kind, but one would benefit from being comfortable sharing a table, just in case you sat where we did. Of course, the bar has about a dozen chairs, so you can always eat there. And if I return, I think it might be my go-to spot.
The first thing each of us did was order drinks. Most of the table ordered from JP's decent beer menu, but Gloron and I chose cocktails. Mine was the Honey Julep, a mint julep with honey instead of powdered sugar. It was a decidedly smokier, richer version of the porch-sippin' classic, but I think the traditionalist in me will always have a special place in my heart for the original. Gloron chose a Spicy Brine Margarita. JP does love its pickles, after all. So why not take a margarita and add pickle brine to it? Normally, one would say, well, because it's disgusting. And they wouldn't be wrong. But it was certainly an interesting way to doctor up a cocktail.
So maybe cocktails aren't Jacob's Pickles strong suit. Fine. No biggie. We came for fried chicken anyway. And pickles. We ordered a sampler of four: Sweet & Spicy Carrots, Candy Red Beets, Salt & Pepper Asparagus, and Special Sours. The clear winner were the special sours, followed by the carrots. Gloron was a fan of the beets, but I could have taken or left them. My advice, order a few and make up your own mind. But know that the vegetables will taste nothing like they do raw. An open mind here is key.
For myself, I ordered the Honey Chicken & Pickles. A buttermilk fried chicken breast with honey and pickles served in a biscuit bun with a bowl of gravy on side. To say it was delicious doesn't do it justice. Insanely good. And very filling. Emma ordered the Mac & Cheese, a side dish, for her main course (she's small). It was good, gooey mac and cheese, though I don't know that it was any better or worse than what you could find elsewhere. Her boyfriend (who I have yet to come up with a nickname for yet) ordered the Chicken BLT, a buttermilk fried chicken breast with bacon, lettuce and tomato, also in a biscuit bun and also with a bowl of gravy should you want it (you'll want it). As with my sandwich, he said it was great. Gloron ordered the Beer Mussels, mussels served in a sauce made from white ale and with Belgian style fries on the side. I can't say that these were my favorite. JP decided to southern them up with chunks of bacon, which I didn't really think worked, and there was a bit of an earthy spiciness that I didn't find terribly palatable. Given the choice, I'd recommend ordering something else.
Jacob's Pickles feels like the kind of place that would be right at home in hipstery young Williamsburg instead of the more stroller-heavy academic Amsterdam Avenue, but it makes a great addition to the neighborhood. It's relaxed and fun and if you follow my advice of having beer, pickles and chicken, you'll be golden.
Expect to pay about $15 for a sandwich and $18 for an entree. Beers range, depending on the size of the bottle, between $7 and $30. Cocktails average $13.
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