In life, there are never enough biscuits to go around. And that's just one of the reasons to like Jack's Southern Comfort Food, where the biscuits are extra-big and they show up on the menu in all kinds of ways: in a sandwich, drenched in sausage gravy or even as an entree, topped with the creamy filling of a potpie.
Jack's, a small restaurant and to-go market on Greenville Avenue in Dallas, could survive on biscuits alone. But there's more to eat here, especially if you like Southern food. Everything we sampled was a pleasant surprise, with potent flavors and ingredients that departed from the predictable and trite.
Starters include Southern classics such as deviled eggs and fried green tomatoes. We went for a couple of dips: One, a clever hummus ($8.95), was a subtly seasoned puree that boasted the unmistakable flavor of black-eyed peas, with a texture that was moist and dense.
Pimento cheese ($8.95) used smoked Gouda, which added an exciting hit of smoke. The cheese was shredded into long strips and tossed in a mayo dressing. Pimento pepper was not uniformly dispersed, which gave the dish an appreciated handmade flair.
For dipping, there were thick, shaggy peppered crackers made in-house. They nearly collapsed under the heavy pimento cheese, but worked perfectly for the lighter hummus.
For entrees, it was classics like meatloaf ($14.95), a statuesque rectangle covered with a glossy tomato-based glaze. The ground beef was firm yet unexpectedly light. It came with irresistibly soft pureed mashed potatoes, encircled by baby squash and Brussels sprouts roasted until they were dark and soft -- homey yet high end.
Fried chicken ($15.95) was two pieces of chicken, both breast meat. The cornflake crust was divine: thick, crunchy and slightly sweet. The chicken came with a large oval dish of baked macaroni and cheese, and some of the best collard greens in the world: cooked until soft but keeping some body, and seasoned with lots of salty, bacon-y flavor.
Biscuits played a role in a dish Jack's calls upside down potpies ($14.95-$16.95). A biscuit was cut in half and topped with what would have been the inside of a potpie. Carrots, small chunks of potato, peas and corn were partnered with meat of your choice -- smoked chicken, brisket, crawfish or pork -- in a creamy béchamel sauce.
We chose the chicken, which was cut into little cubes. The biscuit soaked up some of the toppings but retained its warm center and exterior crunch. But we wished for more vegetables and less chicken. Accompanying coleslaw came too heavily dosed with tarragon, making it our least favorite side. The best side, hands down, was the french fries: pale golden narrow wedges with skins still on, fluffy in the center with a slightly crisped edge.
At lunch, the biscuits appear in a set of sandwiches that sounded good but proved unwieldy. The signature sandwich, the BLFGT ($10.95), was a BLT that included a fried green tomato but disintegrated when you tried to pick it up. On weekends, you can get the biscuits with honey or jam.
Jack's is small, with maybe a dozen tables, plus another handful on the sidewalk in front. Many locals come in and grab dinner to go from a deli case with prepared items and biscuits, of course. Service can be slow; it sometimes seems understaffed.
Fort Worth diners might recall that Jack's owner, Scott Jones, founded Cowtown Diner in Sundance Square, before selling to another owner. Obviously he knows Southern food. He's joined at Jack's by chef Terance Jenkins, a talented New Orleans native whose experience includes a stint at the famed Commander's Palace and at the Mansion on Turtle Creek. His expertise shows.