I'm not a big breakfast fan. Show me a place I can get a burger and fries or a blt at 7AM and I'm a loyal customer. Today I found such a place. Now if they get free wifi I just might move in. Whiteway Deli recently moved into new larger digs on King St. in Jax. I have to admit, the first time I visited their older, smaller location, I had a touch of claustrophobia just waiting on my chicken salad. Got it to go and thoroughly enjoyed it though.
Today however, I was on a mission to find a good breakfast spot near the office. Good - note I'm not talkin' great. And the cheerful staff at Whiteway did not disappoint. I kept it simple. After my two hour breakfast ordeal last week at Kickbacks (see previous post) I didn't want to risk being late to the day job, ya know... So I ordered the egg, ham and muffin sandwich - to go. Now you might be thinking that sounds like an entree from one of those famous fast food establishments, and you'd be right - it does SOUND like it, but that's where the similarity ends. FRESH muffin, a particularly unctuous mix of freshly cooked real egg and melting cheese, and the sweet/salt bite of tender ham. N O T H I N G like the fast food mess (of which we freely confess to have eaten many)...
The folks are friendly, there is PLENTY of space in their new dining room, and the food is good - the classic deli favorites - plus a host of specials named for their local customers. Maybe one day you'll see the nourish-the-beast - make that a smoked turkey on toasted multigrain with lettuce, red onion and dill-havarti... But we were talking about breakfast. OK - I'm going back next week to check out some other breakfast items... Maybe I'll see you there!
On a reader's suggestion I tried Kickbacks Gastropub for lunch last week. I believe the commenter said it was "off-the-chain awesome" but I have no basis for comparison for that so I decided to google it to see if there was a menu online somewhere. Seems they have invested in a MySpace page in lieu of a website... although a blog seems to be lurking out there - calling itself a work in progress. Fitting, because our take on the whole kickbacks experience is that it is very much a work in progress. Let's break it down...
First the good news. The food is, as our poster claimed, awesome. There are so many menu selections you could run three or four restaurants from it with no repeats. Some say schizo, I say just my style. :) EVERYTHING we've tried to date has been good. Sandwiches, Panini, Omelet (hell yeah- they are open for brekkers, which makes me happy happy). Sweet potato fries are amazing little crispy bits of sugary goodness - sprinkled with powdered sugar to set your sweet tooth free. We haven't tried any desserts yet because the portions are MAJORLY big. A cordon bleu omelet (filled with cubed chicken, ham, Swiss cheese and topped with Alfredo sauce) was so large we could only finish half, took the other half to work for lunch. LOVED it but seriously could feel the arteries hardening...
NOW the not so good news... Service? By this, I mean not just table service, but customer service in general. The general consensus of our taste-testing crew was that Kickbacks would be a great place to start a restaurant / bar. Menu - check. Kitchen Magic - check. Waitresses - sporadic appearances (one morning I got there 75 minutes after they opened and the waitress hadn't shown up for work yet. I walked in the front door, sat down, set up my laptop and started typing away, waiting in vain for someone to pop out and acknowledge my presence, maybe offer me some coffee and a menu... nothing. ten minutes rolled by before one of the cooks came out to fill his own cup and saw me there. still he didn't speak, just hovered confusedly by the coffee pot, unsure of what to do next. I greeted him and asked if perchance the waitress had slept in today, which he acknowledged, and thankfully offered me coffee. Once our girl arrived all was put right. Of course I was now 20 minutes late to work and my order had only just gone back to the kitchen, so I guess I'm saying don't go if you are on the clock.
We had a similar slowdown experience at lunch with a party of six. Despite the light lunch crowd, our food took at least 40 minutes to emerge from the kitchen. Maybe there was only one cook working that day? Whatever, you get the point. Nice place to start a restaurant. I don't usually drink on that side of town - too far to drive home - but I'm told evening bar-crowd service is just as slow.
And here's some side facts - Apparently "Gastro-pub" equals full on bar. It's a BAR - with good food. So if you are a stickler for ambiance, let me repeat - it is a BAR. Beer bottles lining the walls, tv, loud music... Everyone there has been cheerful and pleasant - just not in any hurry to acknowledge our presence or bring us food - oh - and there must be some multiple tats prerequisite to work there. :)
Add to the mix very limited parking, and you've just REALLY got to want to eat there to make it work for you. So what does it say about the food that I'll be back soon?