And them good old boys were drinkin’… | Jackson + Rye, 56 Wardour Street, London W1D 4JG
I was slightly sad to see the back of Satsuma – the Japanese restaurant on Wardour Street full of orange futuristic pod-like booths. Not many places have been around for as long as I have been a part-time Londoner. As much as I love the buzz and excitement of a new restaurant, it’s still comforting to see places I visited when I was a fresh-faced teen working in the big smoke are still alive, plus it helps keep me young.
Jackson + Rye have taken over the space with an all-day East-Coast inspired restaurant, headed up by executive chef Mark Askew. The restaurant is backed by Richard Caring and the people behind the recently opened Grillshack – Mark Askew and Hannah Bass. Upon first glance, the plush decor struck us as very Soho Kitchen & Bar, although the designers are the same people from behind the Dean Street Townhouse. This is a super sleek US brasserie with a warm, cosy atmosphere and the gentle background buzz from the bustling crowd. Jackson + Rye‘s clever use of soft glowing lighting and heavy iron pipework shelving are nice touches. As are the dark wood panelled walls, aged leather seating and mirrored picture window frames. It’s obvious that a lot of thought and attention to detail has gone into the interior design, and yet again we pick up more ideas for our home (that we’ll probably never follow through with).
We had been invited to pay them a visit, so we took a break from the dullness that is Christmas shopping to venture into central London. The moment I took a sip from my Breakfast Sour £6 (yes, just six quid!), I knew this was just the kind of break I needed. There’s something intensely satisfying and indulgent about a cocktail with huge perfect cubes of crystal-clear ice clunking against the side of the glass.
The vast menu left us wanting to return before we’d even ordered. Shrimp and grits £8.50 were amazing – creamy corn and plump juicy shrimp with a gentle Thai chilli kick and a delicate crunch from the chopped spring onions. The Crab £7.95 – crab meat mousse layered with avocado and a Bloody Mary-esque spiced tomato sauce was good too, but the shrimp and grits was the dish we reluctantly had to share – we both wanted it to ourselves.
My Steak and eggs £12.50, flattened rump on a huge nest of shoestring fries was reminiscent of the steak I had at Grillshack. A hefty portion that I needed some help with, but Ade has his hands full with the Buttermilk fried chicken £11.95 – ever so tender chicken encased in a thick crunchy golden coating, served with a light slaw. Lucky I ordered the Smoked bacon £1.95 (they were out of slab) as it went perfectly with both our dishes. Despite battling with our stomach capacities, neither of us were going to let any of this incredible meat glistening with maple go to waste.
My new favourite waiter was understanding in giving us a break before dessert and helped point us in the direction of the lighter options, surprisingly one of these was Peanut butter cookies £4.75. Two Jammie Dodger style cookies (kinda) with a little jug of hot chocolate sauce to pour over the milk ice cream. This bought back memories of one of my favorite school dinner desserts – a block of ice cream drenched in hot chocolate sauce, I’ve yet to meet someone who had the same, perhaps it was a Surrey thing? I was won over by the light and almost healthy tasting Pecan pie £5.95 which was accompanied by a heavenly rye ice cream. With a Black ‘N’ Rye £6 cocktail (an espresso martini with rye instead of vodka) on the side, this was a fine ending. I don’t think I’ll ever enjoy a ‘normal’ espresso martini in the same way now.
Downstairs the space feels smaller than its orange predecessor, and no diners to be found on my little wander, just a lone member of staff having his lunch wondering what I was doing snooping around. Perhaps they’re not using the space just yet. I must add a special mention for the toilets, I was greeted by a spa-like aroma thanks to the posh Aesop soap and I desperately wanted to take the long white enamel basin home.
Had we not have to head home (via a promised return to The Ape & Bird) for yet more monotonous present wrapping, we could quite easily have spent more time here (not in the toilets, the restaurant). Jackson + Rye is so effortlessly welcoming, with reasonable prices, especially on the drink front. My sadness for Satsuma’s demise has been quashed, J+R is certainly on the return to list.
56 Wardour Street, London W1D 4JG
Telephone: 0207 437 8338
Opening hours: Weekdays 8am – 11:30pm
Saturday 9am – 11:30pm Sunday 10am – 10pm
Nearest station: Leicester Square or Piccadilly Circus