The Jacobson

The Jacobson, the Crossroad’s newest hip restaurant, shares space with Lulu’s Noodle shop. Both occupy the old A.D. Jacobson Heating and Plumbing Company building. It’s a very cool space with glazed cement block walls, a mix of high and low tables, secluded boothes and plenty of bar counter seating. Some of the cocktails come in flasks to the table, sitting in an ice bucket so diners can pour their own or share.

The menu is large, and diners can choose to go light with flatbreads and salads, or heavier with entrees, both day and night.

On my first visit I indulged in a rich and decadent Banh Mi with sliced pork belly, cilantro and carrots, and a spicy mayo. I loved every bite, but it’s definitely not an every day kind of sandwich. If it were sliced pork loin or pulled pork shoulder I could pretend it wasn’t too bad for me, but pork belly is by definition fatty.

The Ahi tuna salad may be a standard on many a menu these days, but this is a good one, with good quality rare tuna and a very pleasant miso vinaigrette dressing up the greens.

On another go around we started with a wild mushroom and ricotta flatbread. The flatbread was crisp, with plentiful toppings, but the dough could have benefited from perhaps a bit more salt (which I hardly ever recommend!).

I really enjoyed the unusual Crossroads salad. The crisp romaine is  tossed with bacon, corn, tomatoes, avocado and a creamy oregano dressing, and a soft poached egg sits on top.  Eggs on salads are big right now, with good reason. The oozing yolk mixes with the dressing to add complexity to the salad.

The J has Happy Hour every day. It would be fun to hit the patio on a beautiful autumn day and throw back a few. There’s a full bar with beer on tap outside, and a water and fire element on the patio. It can be noisy with all of the construction going down in the Crossroads, but that’s the price of progress, and that stops in the early evening.

Desserts are definitely worth ordering. If you’re into Dutch Babies (looks like a cross between a huge pancake and Yorkshire pudding), I saw a few of them  pass by and they looked like the real deal. Servers seem to be partial to the Fig Newton, an unusual twist on my childhood fig newton sandwich: squares of bread pudding serve as the sandwich to the fig perserve filling and are drizzled with chocolate sauce. In a cute riff on cookies and milk, the dessert comes with a shot of Shatto banana milk. Adorable lookng, but since I’m not a bread pudding lover, I don’t think I’d get it again. The Brown Sugar cake on the other hand, with peanut butter ice cream and caramel sauce was a winner.

Chef John Smith has some impressive credentials, having worked with some of the great chefs in Chicago, New York and Paris. Based on his resume, I’m looking forward to trying out the dinner menu, which is more extensive and emphasizes fish, chicken and meat entrees.

It’s fun to go to the Crossroads these days. The ability to experience high quality fare from independent restaurateurs seems to be increasing at an exciting pace.

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Pot Pie

Until last month I had never been to Pot Pie for dinner. I’m not sure what took me so long, but I’m very glad I finally made it. With its brick walls, subtle lighting and lively buzz, it’s very cozy, and an ideal winter locale. (My apologies for the poor quality of the photos, it was too dark to take decent pictures but at least they give some context to my comments.)

The nightly menu is displayed on a green board in the back of the restaurant. Unfortunately, we were seated right under it, making it a bit difficult to read, but not impossible. There were three or four salad offerings, a few appetizers, two soups and a handful of entrees, including meatloaf, scallops, grilled fish and chicken and, of course, the obligatory pot pies in meat and vegetarian versions.

This is not trendy or cutting edge cuisine, but it is very comforting and enjoyable.

We started with a spinach salad with fig and bacon vinaigrette,  goat cheese salad with beet vinaigrette and a spinach and brie tart. All were fresh tasting and visually appealing.

Because the scallops, grilled fish and roast chicken are most often mentioned as the restaurant’s “go-to” dishes, we tried each. The scallops were tender and sweet, and the roast chicken was moist and flavorful. I wasn’t as enthralled with the mashed potatoes and gravy that accompanied it however, because surprisingly they didn’t have enough salt. How often is that the complaint? Usually, I’m turned off by oversalted foods because I rarely salt anything. But potatoes need a shake of salt to “pop” and bring out the flavor, and that mistake made this dish less than exceptional.

The fish on this night, was barramundi, better known as Australian sea bass. It was grilled perfectly, and served with a light gnocchi that was dressed with blue cheese, walnuts and spinach. An unusual combination to be sure, but it worked (though not if you’re trying to avoid a cream sauce).

The wine list is compact, but well-rounded. The best part is that they don’t go wild with the markups. Each bottle was marked up much less than most restaurants seem to do. Certainly less than the almost-standard 50%. We enjoyed one of Missouri’s finest, an Inland Sea Cabernet Franc (recently renamed Amigoni Vineyards, after its founder).

Word has it that the restaurant does an amazing chocolate chip bread pudding, so don’t miss it if you are a fan of that type of dessert. I’m not usually, but based on its reputation, this one may make me a believer.

The restaurant was packed, even on a weeknight. It doesn’t promote itself but manages to be wildly successful anyway.

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