Being a resident of Southwest Austin definitely has it perks… lush, green landscaping, greenbelts as far as the eye can see, lakes and rivers with very limited retail development. The downside of the Southwest living perk is the lack of development. Well that lasted until…. recently (2006), when the number of commercial space – including dining options have doubled each year. So anytime we are blessed with a new local restaurant either with my husband, a few girlfriends or by myself…. we or I check out the latest and greatest.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t too excited to dine at one of our most recent transplants… Jack Allen’s Kitchen. I’m sure the scrunch in my nose occured because it had been the home to two restaurants who failed within the past few years. One that I had frequented on two occasions and recall the room temperature to be quite chilly and the food not worthy of the price. The second attempt never made our “must eat at list” more than likely due to the bad taste from the original failed restaurant.
A few freinds, colleagues, and even several of my clients have all told me about their GREAT experiences at Jack Allen’s Kitchen. Each one spoke of the amazing food, the warm decor, the delightful ambiance and the incredible staff. I still wasn’t sure that I wanted to take my chances with the idea I may be let down and be limited to the few GOOD restaurants we do have in Southwest Austin. After many attempts of arm twisting, I agreed to join a friend for a happy hour at Jack Allen’s Kitchen in Oak Hill (Austin, Texas) this last night. Boy – was I blown away!!!! I’m not sure if I’m more upset at myself for never checking the place out myself or that many Austinites have been enjoying JAK delicacies for nearly six months without me. Generally, I’m usually the first person to know what is going in where and who will be moving in there, etc – but this time I definitely took the back seat.
When I arrived, I found my friend at a cocktail table in the bar area waiting at a table with a scoop of an unknown orange substance with a few chips on each side of an appetizer plate. I know what it looked like, but I had to ask to be for sure. Yes….. it was Pimento Cheese! I’ve never been a fan of pimento cheese, obviously because my mother put it on everything should could find. Apparently, my friend had the same initial, “I’m not a big fan of it either” feeling, but she claimed this stuff was AMAZING. So I gave in and tried a small amount.
OH MY, I could have eaten 10 different servings of JAK’s Pimento Cheese. This is NOT your momma’s pimento cheese.
Obviously the pimento cheese was a hit and I was finally convinced I needed to check out the entire menu. Unfortunately, we only made it beyond the drink and appetizer menu hence the words “happy hour.” As I ran over the menu, I eyed the following as definitely options I needed to try – the Spinach Gorgonzola Ravioli, the Bacon Wrapped Texas Quail, the Barbacoa Stackers. The Spinach Gorgonzola Ravioli will have to wait until the next trip. Since I’ve been trying REALLY HARD to train for a race, I decided I wouldn’t have a drink this evening but that didn’t last long when I glanced over the drink menu. All our waitress had to say was strawberry mojito and I was in – nothing like peer pressure, huh! Their watermelon martini tasted just like a watermelon jolly rancher. Both drinks were standouts in my book. All evening I was eying one of their signature drinks, a Dirty Okra Martini. This will be a wait until next trip too, but I will definitely have to try this one!!
Today, you can enjoy Jack Allen’s delicacies at one of their five locations scattered across the Austin and surrounding area.
(featured images courtesy of Randall Metting)