11927 Democracy Drive Reston
Maybe I'm a tad bit self-conscious, but every time I order a Fuzzy Navel, I can almost hear the music coming to a screeching halt and feel the judgmental stares of other patrons. Well, so what if I'm a guy that happens to have a natural affinity towards girly drinks? They're downright delicious and besides, we all have our vices. But, I digress...
Despite my initial apprehension, my curiosity eventually won out and on one fine summer evening, I firmly resolved to brave the throngs of patrons and try the restaurant on for size.
Walking through the revolving door, I was greeted by perhaps the happiest, bubbliest set of hostesses imaginable. As with all Great American Restaurants (GAR), (the parent company behind the likes of Sweetwater Tavern, Coastal Flats and Artie’s), the idea is to put the guest at ease and give them the feeling that this is their restaurant, even if it’s their first time visiting. The decor is tastefully retro, 1940’s Americana without the kitsch one might expect from a themed restaurant, with high wooden ceilings and plush leather booths.
After one especially chipper hostess took my name down and informed me of my 45-minute wait, I reluctantly made my way up to the famed Lucky Lounge, where, upon entry, I immediately felt akin to a sardine packed into a tin can. While not quite a standing room only bar, the limited seating left me, well, standing. Yet despite the close quarters, there's no denying that The Lucky Lounge holds a certain appeal to the crowd of mostly twenty and thirty-something nine-to-fivers looking to unwind. Perhaps the draw has something to do in part, with the fact that The Lucky Lounge is the only bar in the Reston Town Center that is both outdoors and allows smoking. Turns out, people like to be outside when they drink and some still occassionally enjoy a cigarette with their cocktail as well. Upon walking into the rather small Lucky Lounge, I was delighted to find that there was a cocktail that was right up my alley on the drink menu. The Raspberry Lemon Drop Martini!
I hailed the bartender over and simply pointed to the name of the drink on the menu. We exchanged knowing glances, and the cocktail − quietly though ceremoniously − was made in front of me. Delightfully fruity, decadent and delicious, I quickly succumbed to its refreshing yet potent finish. I ordered another and without much delay, drained it, too. Before I could get a third, my pager went off. Slightly annoyed, I decided to close my tab, tipped the bartender well for his discretion, exchanged yet another knowing glance with him − the purpose of which at this point was unclear to me − and went, awkwardly, to be seated.
Did I mention that the hostesses are the bubbliest people on earth? I began to wonder how the recruitment of perspective hostesses is done at GAR. Cheerleading tournaments was my best guess. I took my seat and opened the menu and was delighted to find that − like all other GAR establishments − Jackson’s had a nice, small menu. I really hate it when the menu looks like a phone book. It takes forever to choose something, and by the time I do, I have lost my appetite. A few items immediately caught my eye, but before I could begin contemplating what I wanted for dinner, a waiter in the crispest and whitest shirt and apron I have ever seen zoomed to my table and began to count down all the evening’s featured items. I wanted to stop him, but I was hypnotized by the glaring, all encompassing divine-whiteness of his shirt, and I sat still, eyes blankly fixated on his clothing, and listened as he described, in some detail, options that were not on the menu. When he finished, he asked me if I wanted a drink. Not having the cocktail menu at my disposal, I had to actually tell him, verbally, what I wanted. I whispered softly. Not hearing me above the noise, he drew his face closer, and closer still. Finally, I blurted out − with some annoyance − that I wanted a Raspberry Lemon Drop Martini, at which time, the music stopped and, well, I think you know where I’m going with this.
Shamefaced, I ordered the Deviled Eggs with Spiced Pecans & Sugar Cured Bacon as an appetizer and the Hong Kong Style Sea Bass for an entrée. For dessert (yes, I got dessert) I ordered the Warm White Chocolate Bread Pudding. By the time the waiter returned with my drink, I was giddy with excitement. I wanted to slap my forehead in regret that I missed out on this place for so long. Luckily, I held back, sparing the other patrons the sight of an overgrown man with a big pink martini in one hand, merrily smacking himself on the forehead with the other − a scary sight to behold, no doubt.
My deviled eggs arrived very quickly, and just as I was about to sink my fork in them, I noticed that the arrangement was really very delightful. That’s one of things that I like best about GAR. Their presenta7 tions are always perfect. Good food in a friendly atmosphere is another secret; I wondered why other big name restaurants can’t seem to figure that fundamental detail out. After I briefly examined the eggs, I quickly popped a whole one in my mouth. I did mention that I’m overgrown, right? Despite the name, I wasn’t really expecting it to be sweet. I was also surprised that bacon can be so good cured with sugar and then I remembered bacon is good no matter what − like, duh. I inhaled the rest of the eggs and contemplated ordering another appetizer. Before I could, however, my main course landed.
Landed, or swam, I’m not sure. All I know is, as soon as I finished chewing the last bite of my appetizer, they delivered my entrée. How are they so efficient with so much business? You’d expect some mistakes here and there, but tonight, everything was perfect. Again, what a beautiful presentation, I thought. A filet of Sea Bass served on a bed of Asian slaw and soy sherry broth. Delightful to the eye as well as the palette, this dish did not disappoint. Sea Bass is my favorite seafood, but when it’s not up to par, I get angry. I was so pleased with the dish, I again contemplated ordering another upon finishing, but like déjà vu, my Bread Pudding hit my table before I had the audacity to order a second entrée.
Bread pudding was delicious when my mom made it at home, but is multitudinously better at Jackson’s − sorry mom, but really. The bread pudding is served on a bed of Jim Beam Anglaise, and topped with melted caramel. Bread pudding is traditionally stuffed with raisins and the like, but this bread pudding’s moist center was just melted white chocolate. To say this is a great dessert is really to do a disservice to the mad genius that came up with the recipe. This time, I was too full to contemplate stuffing myself further. Instead I asked for my check, and happily paid the very reasonable bill.
Walking out, I took a quick look at the patrons packed in the Lucky Lounge and noticed that they were all smiling, some even drinking colorful drinks in tall martini glasses. I felt a rush of contentment and the cozy feeling that I get when all of my senses have been treated well simultaneously. I went home, kicked off my shoes and fixed myself a Cosmo.