Jacob's Pickles has been or our list for a minute now, after hearing from many sources that it's one of the few/only Upper West Side restaurants with great food and a downtown vibe. We are always trying to get out in the UWS more often, and yet we always seem to end up at random restaurants that either suck or have a number in their name, which means it will suck. I'm sorry but I don't have to eat at a restaurant called Figaro 81 to know its not gonna be good. So when people start telling us about a place in the neighborhood that's focused on pickles and biscuits, and looks like a huge rustic cocktail lounge, we're listening.
After a few visits we have come to the conclusion that Jacob's Pickles is indeed one of the better and cooler restaurants on the Upper West Side. People pile into this place, and we can understand why. But if it were downtown, you'd hear considerably less about it. The food here is a creative menu of comfort cooking, built mostly with things like fried chicken, gravy, fried pickles, and the aforementioned homemade biscuits that are the size and density of a commercial cinder block. It's basically the kind of food that gave Paula Deen the pancreas flu, but served in a New York City setting. The problem though is that much of it is a snooze. There are a few key items on the menu that'll make you happy and also very fat, but the rest of it is forgettable. Things like mac 'n cheese that should be easy and satisfying end up tasting bland and uninspired for some reason. As for the pickles, those are great, but when they fry them, the arrive at your table in a heavy, soft batter not unlike what you'd find on a corn dog. We prefer ours a little more crispy.
At the end of the day, Jacobs Pickles is great if you need a spot for drinks or an Upper West Side dinner meetup with someone you know will embrace the heavy bar food. There are some good beers available, and they also have a pretty solid brunch, assuming you're planning on taking a nap after it. But it's not a restaurant with traveling for.
As you might expect, the pickled vegetable options at Jacob's are impressive, and we liked what we tried. Particularly the hot and sour cucumbers and the sweet and spicy carrots.
As we mentioned above, we weren't crazy about these. They're very doughy, to the point that the batter almost tastes like a doughnut. We'd prefer them to be salty and crispy over sweet and pillowy. Order them if you're craving something fried, but temper expectations.Matzo Ball Soup
This soup was actually our favorite thing at Jacob's Pickles...by far. It's a huge bowl of delicious homey goodness with thin noodles and big hunks of chicken.Honey Chicken & Pickles
These "Southern Biscuit Sandwiches" are the best section of the menu, but you better be hungry. They're HUGE. This one is a massive biscuit with fried chicken tenders, honey, and a pile of shredded pickles on top, and then another biscuit on top. It's delicious, but good luck picking it up. You're gonna need a fork/shovel.Mushroom Gravy Smothered Biscuit
Another good "sandwich" that's really just a huge pile of food that happens to include bread on the top and the bottom. The gravy is tasty, but you can feel it hardening your arteries as you eat.Wild Catfish Tacos
These fish tacos are probably your best option if you're trying to take in less than four thousand calories in one meal. Unfortunately, they're not very good.