Jeanty at Jack’s: Reviews [CLOSED]

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Petit Plat de Moules, Sole Meunière, Chocolate Mousse Brûlée


JewelName: Jewel
Occupation: Marketing
Location: Foster City
Favorite Restaurant: Jeanty at Jack’s
Reviewed Jeanty at Jack’s: Saturday, October 22, 2005

Recently, scientists have proven that chickens dream. And, as they stroll about on well-tended farms in the warm sun, they dream about lounging for hours in sumptuous hot tubs of deep red wine. They dream about one day taking center stage on the menu of a dining establishment that is steeped with charm and has a history of fine eating. There, they will be treated with the utmost respect by artists of the kitchen who take pride and care in how well individual ingredients can come together into a harmonious symphony of flavors while still being able to showcase each individually. They dream about being able to contribute to the sheer bliss of an appreciative diner. In my head, where fact and fiction are often blurred, this is the picture painted as I savor the Coq au Vin at Jeanty at Jack’s.

But it’s fact and not fiction that Jeanty at Jack’s offers authentic, uncomplicated, superbly-prepared French bistro food. Mushrooms, pearl onions, potatoes, and chicken in a rich reduction of red wine — you can see each of them, you can taste each of them, and it’s soooooo good. And it’s a fact that the setting of Jeanty at Jack’s (in the 1864 building formerly graced by Jack’s) with its antique sculptured food-themed wall and ceiling reliefs, brasserie décor, period music, and attentive service is just as authentic, uncomplicated, and superb as the food.

Facts about Jeanty’s Tomato Bisque en Croute: If I didn’t care about people questioning my sanity, or me being potentially forever banned from Jeanty at Jack’s, I would’ve jumped up on our table with my spoon held high and yelled, “THIS TOMATO BISQUE IS F—ING INCREDIBLE!” for all the world to hear. A steaming bowl of tomato soup is often associated with winter when there’s nothing like it to warm the chilled core. But this tomato soup is reminiscent of the treasures of summer when the flavor of sun-ripened tomatoes are at their most robust peak. Topped with a perfectly golden and flakey puff-pastry crust, you’ve got a soup that is most truly “mmmm-mmmm-good.”

Those who believe the fiction of pork as just the “other white meat” probably haven’t had Jeanty’s Cote de Porc — a generous pork chop simply seasoned, seared to juicy perfection, and deliciously married with sweet caramelized onions and a side of sautéed spinach. Even sides of haricots vert and sautéed spinach are done in a way that no ingredient overshadows the other; where butter and garlic serve only to highlight the fresh taste of each vegetable.

And then there’s the “chef’s favorite,” the Petite Sale. While this should’ve been mentioned first since it was more of a starter, the fact is, I just had to save the best for last. One taste of this rich ragout of tender lentils laced with a contrasting yet complementing taste and texture of cured pork belly and topped with a generous slice of perfectly cooked foie gras, and it became not only the chef’s favorite but also mine. This unique dish is really something special.

Entwined in the ongoing battle between fact versus fiction in the Twilight Zone of my head where chickens dream about diners like m, I dream of my next visit to Jeanty at Jack’s.


MelName: Mel
Occupation: Teacher
Location: Richmond
Favorite Restaurant: Mario’s Bohemian Cigar Store Cafe
Reviewed Jeanty at Jack’s: Tuesday, November 1, 2005

Ooh — I couldn’t wait to review this restaurant! I was actually excited to go because as I said, I don’t usually get this kind of a treat. I took a girlfriend, and my husband watched our combined five kids under the age of seven. So you can see that this night was unique! The first thing that was a challenge was parking, and we ended up just paying at a garage. That was fine because that’s the way the city works, but it does add to the cost. When we entered, we were impressed. There were velvet curtains to walk through, and we immediately saw small tables with candles and people drinking wine, etc. Very cozy. The hostess then took us in an elevator up to the top floor. Loved the elevator ride! But when we got there, we were the only ones on that level, even though there was clearly seating on levels one and two available. Not sure why we were sitting up there, and it felt very awkward. As stated above, they were getting ready for a few big parties and literally spent all of our meal up to dessert rearranging furniture, moving tables in and out, setting the place settings. Really odd and uncomfortable.

The waiter was an older gentleman and very nice but absolutely fit my stereotype of the hoity-toity restaurant waiter. I wanted him to cut loose a bit and crack a big smile, but all of my charm went nowhere! HAHA! My friend and I did share our meals and he brought us extra plates for that purpose. Again, he was very good and kind, and I’m sure that’s just the reserve needed to work at a restaurant such as this. The food was delicious, save for the dumplings, which were fair, but again very pricey for the amount served. The desserts were very good, and I would definitely recommend the chocolate mousse brûlée.

By the end of our meal, the large party had arrived and several smaller tables were seated around us. At that point it actually felt like a restaurant rather than a banquet hall that we were intruding upon. As we walked down the two flights of stairs, each level looked much better than the level where we had been seated. The second level overlooked the first and that was really a pleasant feeling. So, I was fairly disappointed with the overall experience because this was a big deal for us and I had high expectations based on the prices. I would not recommend this to my friends because the atmosphere took so much away from the experience and if you’re going to spend $158 on two people, you want to feel like it was worth it.


JosephName: Joseph
Occupation: Architect/Developer/Stay-at-Home Dad
Location: Oakland
Favorite Restaurant: Soi Four
Reviewed Jeanty at Jack’s: Sunday, October 24, 2005

As soon as you approach Jeanty at Jack’s you are transported to Paris. The restaurant looks like a Parisian Maison Bourgeoise converted into a French Brasserie. Jeanty at Jack’s is so authentic, that even the bartender and maitre d’ are a bit snooty. The restaurant occupies all four levels of the original Jack’s built in 1864. The first level off the street has high ceilings and contains the main kitchen, bar, reception, and some small tables. Black and white tiles cover the floor, lace curtains hang in the window, and the walls are lined with rich mahogany, mirrors, and sculptural plaster relief. A carpeted switchback stair with a brass handrail and wire metal balustrade winds its way up through three levels of intimate dining areas and rooms and ends up in a brilliant glass-roofed atrium with a view straight up the facades of towering skyscrapers. The dining areas, both intimate and private with hand painted doors and papered walls, provide pleasant quiet places to dine. The rooms are nicely lit from a mixture of hanging antique fixtures and modern recessed lighting.

The menu is traditional French bistro. Californian fusion cuisine is nowhere in sight. We had Escargots ($10.50), Beet and Mâche Salad ($8.50), and Petit Plat De Moules ($10.00). The escargots with garlic-pastis butter were tender and delicious, and the beet salad with a citrus vinaigrette and feta cheese was also very good. The mussels steamed in Pinot Noir were tender, but unfortunately the broth was too salty. We didn’t try any of the charcuteries or pâtés.

For the main course, we sampled the Sole Meunière ($17.50), Kobe Beef Short Ribs ($24.50), Steak Frites ($28.00) and Cassoulet ($23.50). The short ribs were tender, but also too salty and the steak was a bit tough, and the frites, beautifully presented in a white paper cone supported by a spiral of wire, were crispy, but salty also. Finally the cassoulet, which comes in a casserole dish topped with herbed breadcrumbs, was so hot that everyone at our table was finished before I could start my meal. This dish was also a bit too salty. The duck was tender but no longer flavorful, and the sausage had a good flavor, but it was hard to bite into without burning my mouth.

The deserts were fantastic. I had the Apple Galette ($8.50) with rum raisin ice cream. The tart was warm and crispy and the large scoop of ice cream complemented it perfectly. The Chocolate Mousse Brûlée ($9.00) was heavenly. The caramelized sugar on top was light and crispy, and the chocolate mousse, covering the custard, was satisfying for chocolate lovers.

If it weren’t for the salty dishes, this first time experience would have been wonderful. Perhaps the chef had a heavy hand with the salt this night. The atmosphere is very nice and the service is great.
Finally, I remember when French restaurants were one of the only places you could get gourmet food in the Bay Area. Then came Chez Panisse and Californian’s got crazy about food. Now I prefer menus inspired by French cuisine but tweaked with flavors and preparations from other countries. I guess I’m a little bored with classic French bistro cooking. I don’t think I would return to this restaurant. If you are looking for the traditional French fare, however, you should give Jeanty at Jack’s a try and hope the food isn’t too salty.

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  • Ron Thompson

    I have no idea what restaurant Joseph and Mel went to because if it was Jeanty at Jack’s it’s a different one than I’ve ever eaten at. My fiance and I go to this restaurant and Bistro Jeanty in Yountville, as often as we can. The food is ALWAYS excellently prepared, the service is ALWAYS great and the bill is never more than $75. The Tomato Soup is sublime, the Coq Au Vin is the best we’ve had in the Bay Area, and the Sole Meunière is consistently one of my favorites. Their rice pudding is to die for. The only complaint I have ever had about Jeanty is that one time they out of Rice Pudding!!! This is a great restaurant, you won’t be disappointed.

  • Neil McNamara

    It was strange hearing the reviews on the show. Jeanty at Jack’s is my favorite restaurant in San Francsico. Of course it rattles one’s cage to hear people rip apart a favortie restaurant however what became apparent was the reviewers were mismatched from the start. The first time I dined at Jack’s was before Philippe Jeanty bought the place. The food was French and the menu was encyclopedic. When the ownership changed hands I was overjoyed; no longer would I have to drive to Napa to enjoy the food of Bistro Jeanty, and Jack’s would not become a dot-com building. Talk about a win-win! Granted, the menu changed – for the better! (This is my opinion, but if I want to savor the taste of old San Francisco, I head to John’s Grill – no offense to Mr. Konstin!.) Okay it is French Bistro fare but it is done perfectly, every time. The Beet & Goat Cheese and Mache Salad, the Petiti Sale, the Foie Gras, the Coq Au Vin, the very popular Tomato Soup en Croute, the Short Rib, the Steak Frites, the Sole Meuniere, the creme brulee are some of my favorites, the wine list is great and the waitstaff are professional. It’s too bad that the reviewers were so critical, but that’s what first impressions are all about. Whenever I have eaten in the third floor Atrium I have always enjoyed it. The tables were always set and ready for business. My impression was that Mel and her friend had an early dinner and/or late lunch. As for the expense, well its not cheap but I have always felt as though the experience, the quality and the professional staff earned their money. I feel Joseph was wrong about the staff being snooty. My wife and I have always enjoyed the professional waitstaff. We have even been invited to the bar after dinner for a complimentary flute of Champagne to celebrate our anniversary. The waiters, the bartenders and the Maitre’d are always nice, friendly and helpful. Snooty? Not in my opinion. Regarding the comment about the food being too salty. I have never felt the need to use the salt or pepper shakers on the table because the food is expertly seasoned. One thing that I realized with Joseph’s review was that he didn’t enjoy wine with the food. Wine should go with this food! They complement and enhance each other. San Francisco is a wonderful town with many unique restaurants, bars and coffe houses catering to a multi layered multi ethnic population. It was interesting to see what Jewel, Mel and Joseph came up with. They have completely dfferent tastes and their choices of restaurants and like/dislikes were evident from the start. North Beach is “classic” San Francisco and Marios Boehemian Cafe makes a great meatball sandwich, but I feel it is more of a lunch time establishment. Nonetheless it was interesting to have that come up as one of the restaurants on the show. However it is not in the same caliber as Jeanty at Jack’s. Apples and Oranges. Joseph likes fusion food and seems bored with more traditional fare. That’s okay. His overall assesment was honest and, given his selection, understandable. About the too salty comment, I like salty fries. About the snobby comment, I have never felt that way. One thing that I would recommend would be to feature more specials along with the menu. One time I had an excellent Seared Halibut with the Hierloom Tomato Coulis and, on another visit, a bouillabaise that was out of this world. They should definitely have specials that feature the seasons’ bounty. I would highly recommend eating at Jeanty at Jack’s and – bring along the kids, (if well mannered). My daughter loves a hamburger and those fries!

    Regarding Check Please, I felt as though the three panelists were mis matched and should not have been paired together for the show, although people do get tired of preaching to the choir. It’s a tough balancing act to make a show interesting. The Bay Area is big, food-friendly and culturally diverse. It might make sense to have more themed shows, featuring French, Itialian, Spanish, Asian, etc., separately rather than in a smorgashborg approach. Anyway, keep up the good work, I like the show!

  • Lori Honjiyo

    I also have no idea what restaurant Joseph and Mel went to, because it doesn’t describe the restaurant that I know and love! I was a little sad to hear such negative comments about this wonderful place, i.e. hoity-toity waiters, pomme frittes “too salty” or menu “too pricey.” The fries are one of their signature dishes that you just can’t duplicate though others have tried. And really, in its class of restaurants, Jeanty ranks right up at the top in the quality of food and the service.

    I do think that the reviewers in this particular show were mismatched. The three of them clearly had very divergent ideas of what they thought made for a great dining experience, and a memorable meal. The show was like putting persons of very divergent political views together and seeing what happened. I guess it makes for interesting television, but I think it detracts from giving the restaurants featured fair reviews. Overall though, I continue to enjoy this program.

  • Jewel Wilk

    POST SCRIPT: I failed to cover wine and desserts in my written review and tv review of Jeanty at Jack’s. So, I thought it might be helpful to add a few extra tips to add to my original written review for those fortunate enough to be heading to Jeanty at Jack’s. (By the by…the last line of my written review above should’ve read, “Entwined in the ongoing battle between fact versus fiction in the Twilight Zone of my head where chickens dream about diners like me, I dream of my next visit to Jeanty at Jack’s.”)

    First off, many thanks to comments from Ron Thompson, Neil McNamara, and Lori Honjiyo. I’m happy to see that others really know and appreciate the wonderfully yummy and authentic French bistro food that can be found at Jeanty at Jack’s.

    For those who really enjoy wine…be sure to check out Jeanty at Jack’s extensive wine list—a truly respectable and comprehensive list of both California wines and wines from various regions of France (look for “Chateau du Cedre, Cahors 2001″…it’s one of my favorites). Also, absolutely do not turn your nose away from the “pitcher de vin rouge” or “vin blanc” (pitcher of house red or house white wine)—it’s really good stuff…and the best bang for the buck.

    Plan ahead…pack up part of your entree to take home if you have to…but however you do it…be sure to leave room for dessert. The Crepe Suzette—a large, warm, golden, feather-light, tender crepe laced with orange liqueur and sweet orange butter—is not something you can find everywhere, and if you can, it surely won’t be as perfectly prepared as Jeanty at Jacques.

    And the best reason to bring someone along with you to Jeanty at Jacques is so you can have their dessert too. Let that be the Chocolate Mousse Brulee—a velvety custard topped with a layer of rich chocolate mousse and the classic burnt sugar topping. It’s an illicit affair in a dish.

    Last, and truly not least, I wish all diners of Jeanty at Jack’s the great fortune of meeting the restaurant’s Manager, Sendiata. He exemplifies behaviors that are classic, old-school-trained, and experienced—respectfully formal yet very warm and welcoming…unobtrusively observant and attentive…exuding a sense of ownership and pride—a class act through and through, he sets the bar high for Managers of other restaurants. Add to this a terrific server, Kara, and you can be assured a most perfect experience.

    Happy dining, folks!

  • lynn

    The food was good, but for the price it was not worth it. We went on valentine’s day and they had a set menu for $75, which they did not mention when we made reservations. The price should have been regularly $45, but the price was inflated to $75 which was a little upsetting. Service was adequate. As the previous reviewer mentioned, everything was done correctly but we would have preferred a smile and some personality. If you want to excellent service and food and are willing to spend $200, go to Gary Danko. The food is more refined and tastier. cheers!

  • lynn

    I wanted to clarify that they did not give you an option to order from the regular menu, so you had no choice but to order the set menu at the inflated plece

  • Jewel Wilk

    I got so carried away with the whole “French” thing in my post script that I inadvertedly typed “Jeanty at Jacques” rather than “Jeanty at Jack’s” in a few places. Take note…it’s JEANTY AT JACK’S. Mea culpa.

  • http://www.recessedlightingsite.com Kelly Anne

    “French restaurants were one of the only places you could get gourmet food in the Bay Area” – This is sooo true!!
    I struggled to find gourmet dishes!
    ~kelly

  • http://www.recessedlightingsite.com Kelly Anne – Recessed Lighting

    Jewel, your soo padantic! I would have just left that lil typo :P
    ~kelly