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JCT Kitchen opened in January 2007 in the trendy West Midtown area. Under Chef Ford Fry’s direction, the food is described as casual southern food served with a European cooking technique. I was so looking forward to this meal as I had heard such good things about JCT Kitchen.
I met up with Foodie Buddha for dinner and we had a drink in the upstairs bar. What a change from the Suzy Wong’s bar that used to occupy the space. Good thing I wasn’t on a tight budget as drinks are between $10 -$12. At those prices you would think they could run the AC a bit!
After finishing our drink at the bar, we headed downstairs for dinner. I like the decor – the light colors are a welcome change from the dark and dreary colors I’ve seen in may other restaurants. According to the website, the decor was inspired by the California wine country. I was pleased we were offered a table in the middle of the restaurant instead of along the walls. Those tend to be a bit too crowded for my liking. I enjoy some privacy when dining, not cafeteria style.
For apps, we started with the Fried clams and Pork sliders. I’m not a clam expert, but FB is, so definitely read his review. I tasted something fried, but if there was meat in there, I had no idea because it was so heavy on the fried portion. I did however, really enjoy the fried green tomatoes that came with them. They are sliced thin which gives equal proportion to tomato and batter – great combination. These would make a great appetizer in their own right and perfectly fitting for a Southern restaurant.
My pork sliders would have been better if they were heavier on the meat and less on the bread. The bread is so thick, that is really all you end up tasting. They need to either use thinner bread or double up on the “pork belly” portion, as it is rather thin.
FB, having been here several times before, said it was about time he tried the fried chicken. And it damn well better be good for $16. I, on the other hand, was torn between the short ribs and the duck meatballs with ricotta dumplings. Since the duck sounded a little more interesting, I went for that option. Big mistake!
Seems like it would be hard to mess up something as simple as meatballs, but JCT managed to do just that. I didn’t taste duck at all, more like beef. They seemed dried out and over done. I kept trying to use the red wine sauce to “juice” them up a bit.
And the ricotta dumplings were awful. I was expecting to bite into the dumplings and have an experience similar to when you take that first bite of lasagna and you get a mouth full of ricotta. Well, that’s not how it tasted at all. Have you ever bought those instant mashed potatoes that can be made from a box? You know how they never really taste good? That is about how good the ricotta dumplings were.
Now, the duck leg confit that came on top of the meal was not bad and a pretty fair portion as well. Its size in proportion to the meatballs and ricotta dumplings is much more substantial yet it seems to be downplayed on the menu. I’d prefer JCT get rid of the meatballs altogether, liven up the ricotta dumplings and just offer the duck leg and dumplings.
FB didn’t seem pleased with his fried chicken either. I tried it and wasn’t blow away either. There was not much flavor to it and it wasn’t at all crispy as I’d hoped it would be. You have to be pretty bold to put fried chicken on a menu at an upscale restaurant in my opinion. I’ll take Popeye’s or Bojangles for $5 over this any day.
At least FB had some good sides to go with his chicken, so it wasn’t a complete loss. I’m not a fan of grits, but they seemed to have a decent consistency. I did enjoy the mac and cheese very much. In fact, it was the best thing to be put on our table all night. That says a lot when mac and cheese is the best thing you have an upscale joint.
Service was good – our server checked back with us often and was nearby when we did need something.
Prices for appetizers are around $9, while entrees average $20. JCT Kitchen also has a Sunday special from 5 to 9 that includes choice of meat plus 3 family style sides for $24 per person. So, nearly $100 for a family of 4 not including tip? Seems a little pricey to me.
1198 Howell Mill Rd Suite 18
Atlanta, GA 30318