JACKSONVILLE MAGAZINE

Cocktail Party

 Agnes Lopez Photography

Live music is on tap most nights of the week and Whiskey Jax seems to have filled a void in the Baymeadows area nightlife and culinary scene. When we visited, Brett Bass of local bluegrass trio Grandpa’s Cough Medicine and Wess Cobb were performing, and by eight o’clock every seat was filled. Opened last September in the space formerly occupied by Bubba Burger Grill in the sleepy Point Meadows shopping center near the intersection of Baymeadows Road and 9A/I-295, Whiskey Jax marries classic Southern comfort food with executive chef Eric Gaynon’s take on gastropub fare.

With the restaurant so busy, our server set our expectations well, recommending a little patience for the kitchen as he took orders for appetizers and drinks. Avocado fries ($7.90) hit the table first, with two dipping sauces—a smooth cilantro lime crème fraîche and citrus Thai chili sauce with just the right amount of heat. The fries themselves were panko-crusted, crispy and delicious. They didn’t last long, nor did the whiskey wings ($9.90), which came dry rubbed and fried.

Our main course selections ran the gamut of the menu and the variety pleased everyone in our group. One opted for a light and healthy choice, the summertime salad ($12). The salad includes a nice mix of fresh blueberries, goat cheese, baby kale and spinach tossed in a poppy seed dressing and is topped with grilled shrimp and fried onions. Another in our group went the opposite direction with the Southern fried chicken ($15.90), two massive chicken breasts piled on a bed of parmesan grits and collard greens and topped with a house made tomato jam.

By far the tastiest entrée of the bunch was my companion’s dirty South burger ($11.50). It was served without a bun and came topped with so many great flavors: fried green tomatoes, goat cheese, bacon jam, a fantastic red pepper Caesar dressing and a heap of hand cut fries on the side.

Overall, Whiskey Jax’s entrées are an excellent value; even the split plate charge of $2 includes full portions of the sides for each person. I ordered the street fare taco trio ($14)—which on Taco Tuesdays includes a house margarita—going for one of each, a marinated skirt steak tossed with chimichurri, ahi tuna with sriracha avocado aioli and a blackened shrimp taco.

The large portions made accommodating dessert a challenge, so we split the bourbon pecan tart ($6). With pecan desserts normally syrupy-sweet, the bourbon and accompanying cream took the edge off nicely.

Whiskey Jax Kitchen & Cocktails
10915 Baymeadows Rd; 634–7208; whiskeyjax.com

Hours: Mon.-Wed.: 4 PM-midnight; Thur.: 4 PM-1 AM; Fri.-Sat.: 11 AM-2 AM; Sun.: 10 AM-11 PM

Prices: Appetizers $6–$12.50; Lunch & Dinner $9.50-$23.90; Sunday Brunch $7–$14 with $9 bottomless mimosas

Sunday Blues: Whiskey Jax hosts local musicians for their “Blues, Booze & BBQ Sunday Sessions” weekly from 7:30 to 10:30 PM with no cover charge.

Take a Flight: With over 120 whiskeys behind the bar, a flight is one way to sample a few at one sitting. Flights range from $16 to $25 for three one-ounce pours, with options like Tullamore Dew, Balvenie Caribbean Cask 14 Year Scotch and Four Roses Small Batch.

Calendar: Weekly events include trivia on Mondays, a country music jam on Wednesdays and open mic night on Thursdays.