Jax Cafe is something of a Northeast Mpls institution. And though I've been a Nordeast resident for years, I had never found occasion to dine there--something about it seemed prohibitive--the legacy, the prices, all that red meat! But LivingSocial offered a great deal a couple weeks back: $35 for $70 worth of food and drink at Jax. It was just the opportunity I'd been waiting for and I seized upon it!
My boyfriend and I ventured down there on Sunday evening. It was a slow night in the restaurant, and we ended up sitting next to the beautiful fireplace in one of the sectioned-off dining rooms all by ourselves. The ambiance of the place is lovely--dark wood and hushed lighting--I felt like I was in a scene from Mad Men. When you make a reservation, they print up some personalized matchbooks for you and present them to you when you are seated. A classy and unique touch.
We started with some wine (cabernet for me, pinot grigio for him) and the crab-stuffed mushroom caps.
They were rich, buttery, garlicky, and delicious.
For our main courses, I went with the seared scallop ceasar salad, and my date chose the chicken piccata. We chose the scalloped potatoes and sweet potato fries as our sides.
The salad was your average caesar salad, but the scallops were done perfectly. The scalloped potatoes were impossibly rich, even by scalloped potato standards. They also contained bacon, which wasn't specified on the menu, and could be an unfortunate surprise for vegetarians or non-pork eaters. The sweet potato fries were fine, with a unique and zesty chili lime dipping sauce. The chicken piccata was doused with butter--the chicken tender and the accompanying angel hair pasta a serviceable vehicle. All the food was well-done, but so rich I felt more than satisfied after just a few bites of each thing. We passed on dessert, though the tray of options our server presented to us made us swoon.
After dinner we wandered out back to the idyllic garden and trout stream, where diners can pluck their own dinner right from the water. Tulips were blooming, the watermill was churning, and the walled-off Eden seemed like a lovely spot to spend a summer evening.
I'm glad we finally got a chance to experience Jax Cafe. We might wander back in sometime for a fancy cocktail and a dessert or appetizer. I do think the bulk of the menu is better suited to those enthusiastic about red meat, so it won't be our first destination for another full meal, but the ambiance will probably bring us back for some patio lounging and maybe one of their signature ice cream cocktails.