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Big Jones--"Contemporary coastal Southern cuisine"

Big Jones--"Contemporary coastal Southern cuisine"
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  • Post #151 - September 8th, 2010, 1:45 am
    Post #151 - September 8th, 2010, 1:45 am Post #151 - September 8th, 2010, 1:45 am
    I still haven't made it to Big Jones, and I'm particularly disappointed that I won't make it there in time for this meal:

    RIA Weekly Digest for September 6, 2010 wrote:Tasting Menu Tribute to Edna Lewis

    Big Jones is set to begin tasting menus featuring four courses of
    seasonal dishes served at dinner all week long. The degustation debut
    takes place Friday, September 3, and features Executive Chef Paul
    Fehribach's homage to the late chef Edna Lewis, aka “the grand dame
    of Southern cooking.”

    All the recipes used for the tasting menu are derived directly from Lewis,
    serving to show that simple farm-to-table cookery transcends the times. The
    menu begins with deviled crab and benne biscuits, followed by heirloom
    tomatoes with crisp house bacon, pickled watermelon rind and garden herbs.
    Third course is potted stuffed squab, fried whole hominy, buttered green
    beans, preserved blackberries and thyme. Golden pound cake is for dessert,
    served with brandied peaches and vanilla custard ice cream.

    The Edna Lewis tasting menu costs $45 per person, plus tax and gratuity.
    Optional beverage pairings will be offered.
  • Post #152 - September 8th, 2010, 8:14 am
    Post #152 - September 8th, 2010, 8:14 am Post #152 - September 8th, 2010, 8:14 am
    Big Jones big loss, Happy Stomach!

    My wife and I celebrated our anniversary with this dinner, and we made an excellent celebratory decision. On the plus side, what I like about Big Jones is the attention to detail. Pretty much every element of every dish is about right. On the down side, I find myself constantly wanting more. Thomas Keller has said that ideally each dish should be 3 bites. I'm not so sure I'd agree with that if I ate at French Laundry, but at Big Jones, even if each plate contains more than 3 bites, I want more. Luckily, the Chef sent out seconds of the souse, but I could have used seconds of the rest too. It is that kind of food.

    My only other quibble: I was interested in the drinks package until I learned it did not contain a cocktail. A Big Jones dinner needs at least one of their house cocktails, so I had to go ala carte for drinking.

    I strongly endorse this Edna Lewis tasting meal as well as strongly endorse Big Jones.
  • Post #153 - September 8th, 2010, 9:33 am
    Post #153 - September 8th, 2010, 9:33 am Post #153 - September 8th, 2010, 9:33 am
    Hello -
    I am a filmmaker in Atlanta. I just wanted to let you know I produced a 21 minute documentary about Miss Edna Lewis. The film is called "Fried Chicken and Sweet Potato Pie".

    It is viewable in its entirety on Internet at a Gourmet Magazine website:

    http://www.gourmet.com/magazine/video/2008/01/Edna

    and at this Library of Virginia website:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cl6JVMoM ... annel_page


    My website, http://bbarash.com/film/chicken_sweetpotato
    has more information about the film and the story of Miss Lewis.

    Sincerely,
    Bailey Barash
    bbarash1@cs.com
  • Post #154 - September 8th, 2010, 10:28 am
    Post #154 - September 8th, 2010, 10:28 am Post #154 - September 8th, 2010, 10:28 am
    baileybarash wrote:The film is called "Fried Chicken and Sweet Potato Pie".


    And I wish the dinner in Miss Edna's honor included these dishes as well. After all, that's what made her famous.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #155 - September 8th, 2010, 3:04 pm
    Post #155 - September 8th, 2010, 3:04 pm Post #155 - September 8th, 2010, 3:04 pm
    stevez wrote:
    baileybarash wrote:The film is called "Fried Chicken and Sweet Potato Pie".


    And I wish the dinner in Miss Edna's honor included these dishes as well. After all, that's what made her famous.


    Fried chicken's all over the place. When does one have the chance to eat potted squab!
  • Post #156 - September 8th, 2010, 10:08 pm
    Post #156 - September 8th, 2010, 10:08 pm Post #156 - September 8th, 2010, 10:08 pm
    Hello -
    I am a filmmaker in Atlanta. I just wanted to let you know I produced a 21 minute documentary about Miss Edna Lewis. The film is called "Fried Chicken and Sweet Potato Pie".

    It is viewable in its entirety on Internet at a Gourmet Magazine website:

    http://www.gourmet.com/magazine/video/2008/01/Edna


    Your film made my evening in the best way. Thank you. I have been dismayed by the recent news of the Lewis family taking Scott (whose last name I can't recall) to court. But I learned so much about "Miss Lewis" that it didn't matter.

    bjt
    "eating is an agricultural act" wendell berry
  • Post #157 - September 8th, 2010, 11:01 pm
    Post #157 - September 8th, 2010, 11:01 pm Post #157 - September 8th, 2010, 11:01 pm
    Thank you for watching! I think the last court action between the Lewis family and Scott Peacock took place in 2005, when Miss Lewis was living in Atlanta under Scott's care. After that case was settled Miss Lewis continued to live with Scott until her death in 2006.

    They were very supportive of each other. Scott has mentioned a book he wants to write about his time with Edna Lewis. I'll look forward to that.

    Sincerely,
    Bailey
  • Post #158 - September 26th, 2010, 1:10 pm
    Post #158 - September 26th, 2010, 1:10 pm Post #158 - September 26th, 2010, 1:10 pm
    I remember trying Big Jones right after it opened and feeling underwhelmed for what we paid. A couple years later I decided to give it another try and it is awesome. I absolutely love their red beet cake, it is so delicious I have to make one.. Who can stand red velvet cake made with food colouring after having the big jones beet cake?!
  • Post #159 - September 27th, 2010, 10:32 am
    Post #159 - September 27th, 2010, 10:32 am Post #159 - September 27th, 2010, 10:32 am
    A friend and I dined at Big Jones on Saturday night. We started with the Strawberry Manhattan (house strawberry-infused bourbon, Averna bitters, Peychaud's, holy basil). That was a mighty fine drink. We were worried it might be too sweet, but the infused bourbon had a subtle strawberry flavor and the two types of bitters gave the drink some interest. My friend had the sweet potato soup and I had the market lettuces salad. My friend enjoyed the richness and spicy kick of the sweet potato soup. The greens in the salad were fresh and flavorful. It hit the spot for a simple salad. We also loved the cornbread.

    Main courses were a little less successful. My friend had the autumn vegetables curry. She received a bowl with a large piece of cauliflower, a few heirloom carrots, a pile of greens, some pickled radish, a rice cake..and probably one or two more vegetables I can't remember. A curry sauce was then poured into the bowl. (Ironically, a very similar presentation to the sweet potato soup.) She was not enamored. She thought the curry was very mild and things didn't work together for her. I had the fish special which was a pan-roasted wreckfish topped with a rock shrimp/bacon vinaigrette with pan-roasted fingerling potatoes and baby artichokes, atop a roasted cauliflower puree. Individual items on my plate were quite good -- the fish was well-prepared and quite tasty with the vinaigrette. The artichokes and fingerlings were nicely roasted. The cauliflower puree was strong, and unfortunately overwhelmed anything it was eaten with. I enjoyed the individul elements, but my dish didn't work as a whole.

    For dessert, we had the bourbon bread pudding and managed to almost clean the plate, despite feeling stuffed.

    The service at Big Jones has always been great, and Saturday was no exception. Even though our meal was hit or miss for us, I like Big Jones and will return. I like the effort that is made with the food (and it's a short walk from home!)
    -Mary
  • Post #160 - November 7th, 2010, 10:21 am
    Post #160 - November 7th, 2010, 10:21 am Post #160 - November 7th, 2010, 10:21 am
    I made my first visit to Big Jones on Friday night. The place worked very well for a family gathering. It was easy to hear each other, but the space wasn't overly hushed. The dim lights made it feel cozy but also difficult for a few of my relatives to read the menu. Thank goodness for candles and iPhone flashlights. Everyone was happy though.

    I don't have much of a frame of reference for Southern food but thought the shrimp and grits were surprisingly complex and spicy as noted upthread, though overall thinner in texture than I expect grits. Recently, I seem to have developed an increased sensitivity to acids in my food, and I found that the sauerkraut and mustard blew out all of the other flavors of the Creole-ized choucroute garnie. It didn't help that I had a side of the greens, which also seemed heavy on the vinegar. I wished for the much less acidic sausage plate from Hopleaf down the street, but again, this is just my own issue. A few people at the table were sick so there was less sharing than usual, but the chicken and dumplings and pulled pork sandwich with enough fried okra to feed everyone went over very well. My brother-in-law seemed less enthused about the gumbo, but I think for him the cornbread made up for it. We skipped alcohol because of illness and dessert because I had bought everyone treats from Natalina's to take home.

    I'm supposed to make my first visit to New Orleans this winter for a Mardis Gras marathon (an actual 26.2-mile run, not extended debauchery), so I'm excited to learn a thing or two about Southern food and then return to Big Jones.
  • Post #161 - December 21st, 2010, 2:13 am
    Post #161 - December 21st, 2010, 2:13 am Post #161 - December 21st, 2010, 2:13 am
    Awesome awesome brunch! I love the complimentary BEIGNETS- fresh, warm, so soft. Mmm mmm mmm...I felt no shame in asking for seconds haha The CROQUE MADAME: multigrain bread, turkey (The kitchen prepared mine with pork belly because they ran out of turkey.), baby swiss, sunny side eggs ($12) was delicious. High-quality ingredients superbly executed. The same thing can be said of the EGGS NEW ORLEANS: crab cakes over popovers with poached eggs and bearnaise sauce ($15). Service was effusively polite, kind, and attentive.

    Wonderful food and service aside, my brunch experience at Big Jones was enjoyable due to the following:
    -reservations are accepted unlike many Chicago brunch restaurants that often have long wait times
    -the tables aren't cramped together like sardines in a can
    -the noise level is very conversation-friendly
    -I didn't shiver every time the front door opened with customers entering/exiting
    -the meal's pace was relaxed and leisurely so I didn't feel rushed to evacuate my table for the next diners

    The portions are similar/slightly larger than M Henry and Perennial, not ginormous like The Bongo Room. Prices are great for the quality, quantity, and taste of the food. I want to return for brunch again as well as try their $20 3-course lunch!

    Image
    Beignets

    Image
    Croque Madame

    Image
    Eggs New Orleans
  • Post #162 - January 22nd, 2011, 6:35 pm
    Post #162 - January 22nd, 2011, 6:35 pm Post #162 - January 22nd, 2011, 6:35 pm
    It had been over a year since our one visit to Big Jones. Based on our dinner last night, I think this place has really found it's groove. The oyster stew I started with was a perfect warm-up coming in from the cold. Two large crispy croutons, topped with three plump lightly fried oysters and some grilled chickory were presented in a large bowl. Soup was poured in tableside. I really enjoyed this.
    Jonathan started with the crabcakes. He refused to share so all I can say is that they disappeared quickly.

    I had the Shrimp and Grits as my entree, a dish I came to love back when I worked at the late Soul Kitchen. Big Jones version was fantastic. Grits were the perfect consistency to my taste, the shrimp portion was generous and they were expertly cooked. The tasso gravy was addictive.

    Jonathan opted for a special which I don't recall the exact name of. I consider it "the pork extravaganza." It was supposed to have pork loin, but they ran out and our waiter informed us there would be a substitution of their house slab bacon. Not a problem for Jonathan. There was also a boudin and another housemade sausage served up with an andouille sauce and some greens. He thoroughly enjoyed everything and commented that each version of the pork had a very distinct flavor profile.

    I had a couple of glasses of Gruner Veltliner, a wine I'm happy to see popping up with more frequency on lists around town lately. Jonathan enjoyed a couple of Zinfandel.

    As we both chose rather rich starters and entrees, no room for dessert.

    Our tab was $114 before tip which I thought was very fair for the experience.

    It definitely will not be another year before we return!
  • Post #163 - January 26th, 2011, 7:38 am
    Post #163 - January 26th, 2011, 7:38 am Post #163 - January 26th, 2011, 7:38 am
    I went to Big Jones last July for dinner after it came highly recommended to me by a few people. I was pretty disappointed. Fried Green Tomatos were good....but my shrimp and grits were average at best. Then again I had just come back from a trip to Charleston, SC where I ate real low-country food for a week. So I suppose it's kind of like spending a week in Boston and expecting a similar seafood experience at Red Lobster back in Chicago. :roll: :|
  • Post #164 - January 26th, 2011, 10:47 am
    Post #164 - January 26th, 2011, 10:47 am Post #164 - January 26th, 2011, 10:47 am
    so all you tried were fried green tomatoes and shrimp/grits?
  • Post #165 - January 26th, 2011, 12:17 pm
    Post #165 - January 26th, 2011, 12:17 pm Post #165 - January 26th, 2011, 12:17 pm
    Clearly P. Channon hasn't gotten the memo that any (negative) reactions to the food can only be voiced after someone has tried at least six items from the menu.
  • Post #166 - January 26th, 2011, 3:54 pm
    Post #166 - January 26th, 2011, 3:54 pm Post #166 - January 26th, 2011, 3:54 pm
    Darren72 wrote:Clearly P. Channon hasn't gotten the memo that any (negative) reactions to the food can only be voiced after someone has tried at least six items from the menu.


    So if I had a positive reaction to Big Jones I would be allowed to make a recommendation based on one visit, but if I thought what I had was average I'm not able to give my opinion?



    I probably tried 6 items off the menu through tastes of other's plates.
  • Post #167 - January 26th, 2011, 4:31 pm
    Post #167 - January 26th, 2011, 4:31 pm Post #167 - January 26th, 2011, 4:31 pm
    P. Channon wrote:
    Darren72 wrote:Clearly P. Channon hasn't gotten the memo that any (negative) reactions to the food can only be voiced after someone has tried at least six items from the menu.


    So if I had a positive reaction to Big Jones I would be allowed to make a recommendation based on one visit, but if I thought what I had was average I'm not able to give my opinion?

    There is no such memo (or rule). Darren forgot to include a winky in his post.
    Here is one: :wink:

    Thank you for posting your impressions of Big Jones.

    Hope this helps,
    --Rich
    I don't know what you think about dinner, but there must be a relation between the breakfast and the happiness. --Cemal Süreyya
  • Post #168 - January 27th, 2011, 11:12 am
    Post #168 - January 27th, 2011, 11:12 am Post #168 - January 27th, 2011, 11:12 am
    Thanks Rich. I thought that by making such an outrageous statement it would be clear what my original intent was.
  • Post #169 - January 27th, 2011, 11:57 am
    Post #169 - January 27th, 2011, 11:57 am Post #169 - January 27th, 2011, 11:57 am
    You weren't alone.
    Gypsy Boy

    "I am not a glutton--I am an explorer of food." (Erma Bombeck)
  • Post #170 - January 29th, 2011, 12:34 am
    Post #170 - January 29th, 2011, 12:34 am Post #170 - January 29th, 2011, 12:34 am
    I went to Big Jones last July for dinner after it came highly recommended to me by a few people. I was pretty disappointed. Fried Green Tomatos were good....but my shrimp and grits were average at best. Then again I had just come back from a trip to Charleston, SC where I ate real low-country food for a week. So I suppose it's kind of like spending a week in Boston and expecting a similar seafood experience at Red Lobster back in Chicago.


    I always appreciate feedback about my restaurant, P. Channon. I've learned a lot of valuable things about my restaurant, good and bad and terrible and fantastic, on this site from very smart people. I'd appreciate any other more specific feedback you could give me about what was lacking. I've been to Charleston very recently and love it. I feel like my restaurant would be right at home there, and I hear the same thing from many of my customers all the time, including bonafide born and raised Southerners from all over the South. That's why my restaurant is busy. I'm always disappointed to hear one of my customers is disappointed and appreciate meaningful feedback. Your comparison of my restaurant to Red Lobster is however, offensive and uncalled for.
  • Post #171 - January 29th, 2011, 8:08 pm
    Post #171 - January 29th, 2011, 8:08 pm Post #171 - January 29th, 2011, 8:08 pm
    Chef:
    Your comparison of my restaurant to Red Lobster is however, offensive and uncalled for.



    Read this again:

    So I suppose it's kind of like spending a week in Boston and expecting a similar seafood experience at Red Lobster back in Chicago.


    Wherein did the poster compare Big Jones to Red Lobster?
  • Post #172 - January 30th, 2011, 1:30 am
    Post #172 - January 30th, 2011, 1:30 am Post #172 - January 30th, 2011, 1:30 am
    P. Channon wrote:I went to Big Jones last July for dinner after it came highly recommended to me by a few people. I was pretty disappointed. Fried Green Tomatos were good....but my shrimp and grits were average at best. Then again I had just come back from a trip to Charleston, SC where I ate real low-country food for a week. So I suppose it's kind of like spending a week in Boston and expecting a similar seafood experience at Red Lobster back in Chicago. :roll: :|


    I'm sorry sun, but for a review to comment on an experience from 6 months ago which didn't have really negative points, it seems a real stretch to compare to Red Lobster. And the comparison is rather clear, saying that expecting low country cooking at Big Jones to be like some unspecified locations in Charleston is to Red Lobster to be able to replicate the seafood scene in Boston (although again unspecified). Maybe it's just me but I would take affront to it as well.
  • Post #173 - January 30th, 2011, 9:57 am
    Post #173 - January 30th, 2011, 9:57 am Post #173 - January 30th, 2011, 9:57 am
    Trying to add a constructive note here... I find that I am able to provide a much more insightful post about a restaurant if I write about it within a day or two of eating there, with lots of detailed comments (both positive and negative) about most of the specific dishes I ordered/tried and anything else of note. Six months later, I've usually forgotten most of those details.
  • Post #174 - January 30th, 2011, 5:50 pm
    Post #174 - January 30th, 2011, 5:50 pm Post #174 - January 30th, 2011, 5:50 pm
    With all due respect to everyone here...it's just my individual opinion. I know many people who love Big Jones and it came highly recommended to me prior to my visit. I lived in Boston for 5 years and know good seafood...and quite frankly much of the seafood in Chicago is of Red Lobster quality. I've spent considerable time in Charleston, having dined at quite a few places there (Magnolia's, McGradey's, The Fat Hen, the Sanctuary, Tom Colicchio's restaurant at Cassique on Kiawah Island, etc... etc...) and I can say I understand quality low country style food.

    The reason I mentioned the time I had spent in SC in my post on Big Jones is that I was raising the possibility that it was at a disadvantage from the start considering all the very authentic low country food I had recently enjoyed.

    I don't think Big Jones is a bad restaurant by any means, only that everything that I tried was just OK. Again....my individual opinion.

    Thanks.
  • Post #175 - January 30th, 2011, 6:00 pm
    Post #175 - January 30th, 2011, 6:00 pm Post #175 - January 30th, 2011, 6:00 pm
    P. Channon wrote:With all due respect to everyone here...it's just my individual opinion. I know many people who love Big Jones and it came highly recommended to me prior to my visit. I lived in Boston for 5 years and know good seafood...and quite frankly much of the seafood in Chicago is of Red Lobster quality. I've spent considerable time in Charleston, having dined at quite a few places there (Magnolia's, McGradey's, The Fat Hen, the Sanctuary, Tom Colicchio's restaurant at Cassique on Kiawah Island, etc... etc...) and I can say I understand quality low country style food.

    The reason I mentioned the time I had spent in SC in my post on Big Jones is that I was raising the possibility that it was at a disadvantage from the start considering all the very authentic low country food I had recently enjoyed.

    I don't think Big Jones is a bad restaurant by any means, only that everything that I tried was just OK. Again....my individual opinion.

    Thanks.


    It's always nice to have a range of opinions on a place. Please, keep posting.
    -Josh

    I've started blogging about the Stuff I Eat
  • Post #176 - January 31st, 2011, 10:48 am
    Post #176 - January 31st, 2011, 10:48 am Post #176 - January 31st, 2011, 10:48 am
    P. Channon wrote:I lived in Boston for 5 years and know good seafood...and quite frankly much of the seafood in Chicago is of Red Lobster quality.


    Don't take others' offense at this sentiment too personally. It's just that this wobbly and well-worn line of logic has a long history of kicking off the foodie equivalent of a "flame war." See e.g., the legendary, "I'm from Arizona, so I know good BBQ."

    Turns out, I have some connections to Boston and I'm there all the time (well, not Boston per se, but a town nearby). Alas, much of the seafood in Boston is also of Red Lobster quality. Still, good clam bellies are as common in Boston pubs as good sausage is common here, and I'm happy for that.

    I'm one of those raised in the South people mentioned upthread. Having spent some time recently in Charleston and the Sea Islands, I think Big Jones stands up pretty well. Just my opinion based on a few visits over the years and recognizing any kitchen can have an off night.
  • Post #177 - January 31st, 2011, 3:55 pm
    Post #177 - January 31st, 2011, 3:55 pm Post #177 - January 31st, 2011, 3:55 pm
    I grew up on the East Coast, in the days before FedEx when you had to be near the coast to get fresh seafood. Now I live in Chicago and enjoy fresh, delicious seafood at many restaurants here. Many of them are places like Big Jones which don't primarily specialize in seafood. But I also enjoy some of our best seafood restaurants - in the suburbs (Mitchell's Fish Market in Glenview, Oceanique in Evanston, Parker's in Downers Grove, Reel Club in Oak Brook) as well as the city (Shaw's Crab House, Hugo's Frog Bar). They are every bit as good as the better seafood restaurants on both coasts (where I frequently travel). And as already noted, not every place on the coasts is wonderful, either.
  • Post #178 - January 31st, 2011, 5:04 pm
    Post #178 - January 31st, 2011, 5:04 pm Post #178 - January 31st, 2011, 5:04 pm
    nsxtasy wrote:I grew up on the East Coast, in the days before FedEx when you had to be near the coast to get fresh seafood. Now I live in Chicago and enjoy fresh, delicious seafood at many restaurants here. Many of them are places like Big Jones which don't primarily specialize in seafood. But I also enjoy some of our best seafood restaurants - in the suburbs (Mitchell's Fish Market in Glenview, Oceanique in Evanston, Parker's in Downers Grove, Reel Club in Oak Brook) as well as the city (Shaw's Crab House, Hugo's Frog Bar). They are every bit as good as the better seafood restaurants on both coasts (where I frequently travel). And as already noted, not every place on the coasts is wonderful, either.


    Sorry, but you must be kidding...Mitchell's Fish Market in Glenview? :? :)
  • Post #179 - January 31st, 2011, 6:08 pm
    Post #179 - January 31st, 2011, 6:08 pm Post #179 - January 31st, 2011, 6:08 pm
    P. Channon wrote:Sorry, but you must be kidding...Mitchell's Fish Market in Glenview? :? :)

    Yes, absolutely. I've eaten there maybe ten different times, and I've enjoyed the freshness of the seafood and the deliciousness of their preparations. I think it's as good as Shaw's - high praise indeed - and better than many other, independent seafood restaurants (e.g. Bob Chinn's).
  • Post #180 - February 1st, 2011, 8:26 pm
    Post #180 - February 1st, 2011, 8:26 pm Post #180 - February 1st, 2011, 8:26 pm
    It would be great if the pri fix lunch special would include more of the items on the regular menu. Either that or state exactly, which items are available for the lunch pre fix on your website as the situation could lead to dissapointment. Other than that, great place and glad you're in chicago.
    I'm not picky, I just have more tastebuds than you... ; )

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