201 N. 7th St.
Monday - Thursday: 5:oo PM to 10:00 PM
Friday and Saturday: 5:00 PM to 11:00 PM
Atmosphere: Located in the old train station in the Haymarket, the restaurant inherently gives off a classy, "old-timey" feel. Very nice decor, blacks, reds and greens, candles at each table, tables set with more silverware than you know what to do with, that kind of thing. Classy without being stuffy, however. The restaurant is also much bigger than you would think when you first walk in: the front room is bi-level, with about 10 tables. This room then expands into the back where there are a number of other tables, mostly deuces and four-tops. Outside seating is also available when it's not -12 outside.
Service: Service was allright. There weren't many people that night, so service was fast, but not very involved. Our server was very plesant, but not overly engaging. It seemed that there was only three front of the house staff that night, our server, one other server and a host/bartender/manager, so maybe they were busier than they appeared. My biggest issue with service was that each course seemed to be fired too early, then left to sit in the window until we were ready for it. Maybe we were just slow, but it removed that sense of individualized service.
Food and Drink: The reason we started going to JTK was for their Date Night menu, which was orginally only on Mondays, but has now expanded to every night of the week. Talk about a great deal! It includes an appetizer to share, two entrees, a dessert to share AND a bottle of wine. All for $50...definitly manageable on our budget. I do believe, however, that this expansion of the date night is somewhat responsible for the decline in quality of food (mainly just the entree) and service that we noticed on this visit.
Our meal started out with a GREAT bottle of wine. It was an Austrailian blend of granache, shiraz and mourvedre, very fruity and complex, but not heavy enough to ruin dinner. The appetizer we chose was the tempura battered calamari (squid). It was served with a chili lime aioli and siracha, and was absolutly phenomenal! Light and crispy, great with the aioli!
Next came our soup course, which, as I mentioned above, was served way too soon. We hadn't even finish half of our appetizer... I chose the tomato basil, which was the soup of the day and the boy got the two onion, which was basically French onion. Both soups were good, the two onion was a little on the salty side, but not enough to be inedible. The tomato basil was delicious, rich and creamy, big pieces of basil leaf.
On to the entree. I chose the mahi mahi while the boy had the chicken parmesan pasta. Both tasted alright, but unfortunately look as thought the had been under the heat lamp for a while. For my dish, the fish itself was flavorful, but cold. It was a pairing, however, that I found odd. It was served with green beans, which is just fine, but was on a bed of mashed potatoes and topped with corn. First off, fish and mashed potatoes are never a good combination, in my opinion. The potatoes were too heavy and over-powered the flavor of the fish. And the corn still baffles me, it didn't do anything to enhance the flavor and was just sitting on top. It was as if the chef ran out of the actual garnish, and just threw whatever s/he could find on there. I'm all for experimenting with flavors, but that doesn't even make sense.
For dessert we had the chocolate torte, which was good, but tasted and appeared to be straight from a box. I guess if we're only paying $50 for a 4 course meal, you can't really complain too much there.
Value: Despite my issues with the food, overall, the date night experience is a great value. I have never tried other items off the regular menu, (I do mean to, however, and will report back when I do) and am curious to know if the quality of the "full price" items is better than the "value" items. If not, I see no reason not to save a few bucks and enjoy the date night menu.
Cleanliness: Very clean. Servers were quick to clean off empty tables, and there was not a crumb to be found around our table.
Overall Impression: Great for a night out, a chance to dress up and go somewhere classy but affordable, especially for college students. Probably not a great place for the kids or large groups, but great for a date.