Stateside steaks, cool cocktails and rare ryes, a New York-inspired diner has taken its lead from across the pond and planted itself on the banks of the River Thames in Richmond.
American Diner Jackson + Rye, which has already proved popular in Soho’s Wardour Street and Chiswick High Road, has recently opened a new branch overlooking the river right by Richmond Bridge. Offering everything from hearty breakfasts to late night dinners, Jackson + Rye is keen to establish itself as an authentic New Yoik experience in London, but this may be a little ambitious. While the food is tasty, the menu is let down by its desserts, and the service leaves a little to be desired too. The location, however, makes it a desirable destination to head to for a long lunch with friends, or as a pitstop while browsing shops or taking a walk along the Thames.
Situated in Heron Square, the restaurant/bar is spacious and nicely fitted out. Inspired by Brooklyn bars and Manhatten speakeasies, there is deep olive banquette seating and sage leather bar stools. Soft gold touches of hanging lights and desktop lamps reflect off the many shining mirrors and give the whole venue a light, airy feel which is immediately appealing.
The staff are keen to seat you and get your order in, even on a quiet Monday lunchtime. There’s no personal touch, no recommendations or advice when discussing the menu, but our waitress is friendly enough. Having ordered our lunch we are quickly brought our drinks and the starters follow shortly.
The roasted pumpkin soup is impeccably presented, with fresh veg in the bowl and the soup in a jog to pour over. A hint of truffle comes through as the sweet smelling steam fills the air, and tasting does not disappoint. If you’re more of a meat fiend there’s a perfect portion of beef carpaccio or roasted sea scallops to be had. And plenty of salads on offer too, including a creamy mozzarella and tomato plate, juicy enough to make you want to order another straight away! Main courses are typically American diner themed – steaks, grills and burgers. Unfortunately there’s only one vegetarian option – a goats cheese pasta – and if you’re not able to eat goats cheese you’re a bit stuffed. Having asked the waitress for an alternative, the starter of truffled mac n’ cheese was offered, with a side dish ‘to fill you up’. Unfortunately, being a starter, the dish didn’t fill me up, and I was left asking for a bowl of bread to fulfill my appetite. Not something you’d ever expect to happen Stateside! The tuna main, however, was a great size. Served with a buttery mash (not the fries that the menu stated) and roasted vine tomatoes, every morsel was tasty and satisfying.
Desserts are a big deal in the US and the selection at Jackson + Rye is tempting. From pecan pie with rye whisky to peanut butter cookies, it’s a hard task picking just one. We plumped for the toasted marshmallows served with blood orange sorbet and chocolate sauce, and a dark and stormy rum float. Unfortunately the descriptions are the best thing about the desserts – the marshmallows were just marshmallows, not toasted at all – although the sorbet was delicious. The float was a total disappointment. Promising a heady mix of rum, spicy ginger beer and lime, just reading the menu brought back memories of a balmy Bermudan holiday. But what arrived was a watery jug of ginger beer with a lump of vanilla ice cream at the bottom. The entire float idea – of a rum and raisin scoop laying atop the cocktail, was made entirely redundant.
Jackson + Rye offers a vast array of meals and is attractively decorated with personable staff. A massive selection of cocktails are on offer from the fantastically well-stocked bar and it’s a nice place to hang out with friends over a lazy lunch or brunch. Hour after hour could be whiled away with a cocktail in hand in the summer. Fine dining it’s not, and it doesn’t claim to be, but American Diner it’s not either, really. It’s more of a Browns with lots of steak on the menu. It’s a great place to go if you know what to expect, but if you’re looking for a taste of New York on the Thames, you will probably leave disappointed.