You go to Jack Rose for the whiskey. I get it. Believe me—nobody gets it as much as I do. But they damn sure are doing their best these days to bring you through the front door for other reasons, and a quick walk-through of new executive chef Jon de Paz’s menu overhaul proves that yes, there are plenty of alternative, and delicious, reasons to make your next visit.
Chef de Paz brings a lofty resume to the Jack Rose team, having worked in establishments such as Eleven Madison Park, The NoMad, and The French Laundry, to name a few, not to mention D.C.’s short-lived but ambitious Shaw Bijou. In addition to heading the Jack Rose kitchen, he’ll also be spearheading the group’s next venture—The Imperial—slated for a late 2017 opening.
Since taking the reins at Jack Rose in March, de Paz has built his menu from the ground up, broadening the range of what you may expect to find at the restaurant. A scant few dishes remain from the menu which preceded him—choice starters like fried chicken skins, and accompaniments such as biscuits with pimento cheese spread, just had to stay—and de Paz is intent on keeping the menu fresh and seasonal.
You’ll regret things if you don’t start your meal with the burrata, a luscious preparation with honey, hazelnuts, Asian pear, and lemon oil. Not to mention the gorgeous steak tartare served with egg yolk fudge and toasted baguette.
Seasonal starters on the current menu include salmon “Mi-Cuit”—essentially “half-cooked” in French and a textural marvel— served with Swiss chard, golden Yukon potatoes, and assorted sauces, and the vivacious summer squash ravioli, with ricotta, mint, and a shallot emulsion, topped by the addictive crunch and salt of a carefully fried squash blossom.
Heartier mains are also available, such as halibut paired with sauteed shrimp, Berkshire pork with wilted kale, white asparagus puree, and apple and ramp relish, and venison tenderloin, expertly cooked and offered with a savory-jammy kumquat marmalade, parsnips, and charred radicchio.
Of course, to wash all this down, you’re probably perusing the whiskey selection. Again—I get it. But just as de Paz wants to bring you in for his cuisine, the rest of the Jack Rose team wants to bring you in for all the other great libations on hand.
Wine pairings are still where you’ll most typically find your best taste-for-taste duo with a dish, especially with the new elevated entrees. It’s not as if they’re trying to match a whiskey selection that’s 2,700 strong, but you’ll find a well-curated list to point you in the right direction. Meanwhile, the beer program headed by Nahem Simon sneakily remains one of the city’s best.
And while the wonders of Dram & Grain’s cocktail concoctions in the basement grab the headlines, the main Saloon’s cocktails are also worth your attention. You’ll beat the heat with the Cheap Sunglasses, made with tequila, sparkling rose, strawberry-ginger syrup, mint, and lemon, you’ll feel right at home with classics such as an Old Fashioned made with their house-exclusive cask of Belle Meade Bourbon, modern classics such as the Penicillin, or even newer riffs, such as the Bagpipe Buoy, with Glenmorangie 10, mango-lemongrass shrub, and a float of Ardbeg 10.
Nobody’s gonna blame ya for going to Jack Rose for whiskey—duh—but with the latest menu, nobody will be blaming ya for going there for an excellent dinner, either.