Jack’s Southern Comfort Food: Hurry in before everyone finds out

The first time we went to Jack’s Southern Comfort Food, which opened on Lower Greenville in October, was a recent Sunday morning for brunch. We heard about the biscuits and decided to try it. We walked in with a group of 15 (including five kids), having no idea that the modest space isn’t really designed to accommodate such a large group. No matter — the restaurant was quiet (we were the only ones there when it opened at 10 a.m.) and the staff quickly rearranged the entire set-up and pushed tables together so that we could dine as a group.

As we ordered, we were offered complimentary watermelon sangria, as the restaurant’s liquor license won’t be ready until January. I also ordered coffee, which was served in this darling cup.

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One of Jack’s Southern Comfort’s many charms is its mismatched china and worn cloth napkins that appear to come straight from Grandma’s kitchen. It gives the restaurant a homey, cozy feel. I also loved the collection of egg plates displayed on the walls, such as this one.

We ordered a sticky biscuit off the brunch menu for sharing, which came while we were waiting on our dishes and rivaled the one at Crossroads Diner (my husband actually thought Jack’s was better). I was even more impressed, however, with a plate of sliced apples and peanut butter that was sent to our table shortly after we ordered. Chef Terance Jenkins, noting that we had five hungry children among us, sent it out to tide them over until the meal. The restaurant receives major brownie points for this in my book.

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I was already sold after our experience thus far. Then when the meal came, I was blown away. First of all, the portions are huge. Two of my friends had the foresight to split the smoked chicken pot pie, pictured below. That’s a half portion, believe it or not.

I ordered the shrimp and grits. It was amazing. By far the best shrimp and grits I’ve ever had. I can’t say this from a place of expertise — I’ve ordered maybe a dozen shrimp and grits dishes in my life — but I did visit New Orleans recently and ate shrimp and grits at the famed Commander’s Palace restaurant. Jack’s was definitely better.

Interestingly, when we returned to Jack’s for lunch soon afterward, we asked Jenkins about his training. He learned to cook from his grandmother, he says, and also mentioned that he went through “culinary boot camp” at none other than the Commander’s Palace. I told him I liked his shrimp and grits better. He grinned and thanked me.

Lunch at Jack’s, by the way, didn’t disappoint after that brunch. Same great experience — my 3-year-old daughter’s mac and cheese was made especially for her, with “macon,” as she requested, and brought out before the other dishes. My BLFGT (that’s a BLT with a fried green tomato) was tasty, and I couldn’t stop stealing the Texasian salad from my husband’s plate.

Much of what appeared on the lunch menu was also for sale in the restaurant’s take-out case — ham salad, pigs in a “pashmina” (or puff pastry) and other such entrees and sides, not to mention fabulous-looking desserts that I didn’t need to eat after downing bacon and fried tomato on a biscuit. Considering that the refrigerated cases are about as large as the dining space, my guess is that Jack’s does as much business with take-out and through its catering menu.The restaurant also sells jars of its jams, spreads and pickles, such as jalapeno whipped honey.

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