Kickbacks - You Gotta Want It

Kickbacks Gastropub on Urbanspoon
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?


  1. Thanks for this. I want to try it but I like to be prepared for this sort of service, which I will weather if the food is fab. West Inn is another bar with great food, but the service is not always supergood. Food has always come out quickly though.

  2. Kickbacks food is good but if you order delivery don't have a set lunch hour for they will not get it to you in a timely manner. I ordered at 11:20am and still waiting for food at 12:52pm and it is still not here. I could have walked there faster since I am only a few blocks away!

    Ok delivery driver showed and then threw change at me and said she was lost! I told her that my lunch time was over and did not tip. Won't order delivery again!

  3. I have been to Kickbacks a couple times. Food has always been awesome. Highly recommended.

  4. Amazing variety in the menu. And the food is tasty and will hit the spot with it's huge portions. I'm stuck on the pasta portions bcs you can mix the flavors to your liking.

    Yes, the service experience has literally been 50/50. It was the quickest when it was busy and when the friendly owner was there.

    Overall, it's a fun neighborhood hangout and good for a Friday night dinner with friends.

  5. I am visiting Jacksonville for the first time and someone recommended I go to Kickbacks the first day I was here. I have been there twice this week and the service is great, the food is amazing, and it has a great hometown feel. I would definitely recommend it.

  6. Anon - I was there this week for lunch too - the menu was scaled back somewhat - which can only help - still lots to choose from - I had a great turkey bacon club AND mac n cheese with, wait for it... bacon! nom!

  7. I'm there every Saturday night like clockwork for my Mac and Cheese and clam strips. Cheap, delicious, and never a disappointment. Service is always pretty bad, but it just gives my friends and me more time to hang out.

  8. Casey - Isn't that mac and cheese awesome?


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