JSix – Chef’s Mercy

I love a good multi-course meal as much as anyone, but I also want to feel like some effort is put into it, especially if we’re doing something called Chef’s Mercy.  For Cami’s birthday, we joined her at JSix for a fancy dinner.  Five courses, $59 – not bad, really, compared to some other fine dining options in town.  Plus, I’d heard good things about Chef Graves’ dishes and the Chef’s Mercy dinner.

We started with an asparagus salad with tasty morsels of bacon-y crunch on the plate.  The asparagus was cooked perfectly and the bacon was, well, how do you go wrong with bacon?  We weren’t served the poached egg that usually comes with it (we had some limitations to what we could eat that night) but we were off to a good start.

Next up was wild mushroom ravioli with fresh spring peas and their leaves.  Tastiest peas I’ve ever eaten, and that may include ones I’ve picked from our garden.  When we got to the ravioli, we found it to be a bit… crunchy.  We asked if it was supposed to be that way and were told that the chef serves the ravioli extremely al dente, as a way to be different.  Look, I know al dente pasta, and it doesn’t go “crunch”.  I know the difference between cooked and not cooked pasta.  Let’s just say, this was not al dente.  Wonderful flavors, but points off for serving undercooked pasta and trying to pass it off as being fanciful and different.

There’s some chatter that braised short ribs are becoming an old trend – everyone’s doing them, they’re not that special, blah blah blah.  Whatever.  I love braised short ribs, when they’re done well.  There’s a reason we ate them at our rehearsal dinner AND at our wedding.  They’re good!  Meltingly soft beef covered in a luscious sauce?  Bring it on!  JSix’s short ribs were outstanding, if not oddly paired with a corn and lobster salad on the side.  Where are the potatoes?  Creamy element?  Hot short ribs and cold salad?  Kind of weird.  Delicious, but not well balanced.

We then moved on to a bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin, sitting on top of some of the tastiest polenta I’ve had in a long time.  Maybe the pork stole the polenta from the short ribs?  The pork tenderloin was juicy and tender, and the bacon surrounding it was crisp and not chewy-springy.  Very nicely done.  Probably would have been appreciated more if I hadn’t been burstingly full.  Luckily, I have an extra dessert-stomach.

… for creme brulee.  Really?  I think we were all a little bit disappointed in this course.  I mean, yes, it was good creme brulee, but isn’t that kind of the cheater way out?  Out of all the fancy desserts on the menu, we were served this?

All in all, I felt we were served very safe, very boring dishes (except for that radical crunchy ravioli!)  Granted, we told them we had a pregnant lady among us, so maybe they didn’t want to get too crazy?  Then again, why serve an egg-based custard for dessert?  We saw completely different dishes going to a couple a few tables over, but I didn’t see what they got for dessert.  I’d love to go back and see if we get a more adventurous taste of their menu, but I’m also hesitant to spend another $120 if we’re only going to get standard dishes again.  I mean, for $60, the two of us can eat really well at Wine Vault & Bistro!

It was fun to do, and always fun to celebrate a birthday with my best friend, and it’s not like the food was of poor quality (except for that ridiculous “al dente” ravioli).  I’d say JSix provides a pretty good dining option for those looking to eat downtown.

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12 responses to “JSix – Chef’s Mercy

  1. I like creme brulee, too, but I hardly ever want to order it when I’m out. Too bad you didn’t get something more “adventurous” for dessert! The ravioli looks kind of … deconstructed. Too bad they undercooked it – no one wants to eat crunchy pasta!

    • I think I was especially disappointed in the dessert choice after I found out there was a banana brulee split on the dessert menu. I think that could have been exciting!

      The ravioli was “closed” but very flat. And more crunchy than “al dente” should be, really.

  2. I’ve been curious about the food here. The price for the meal seems like a pretty good deal, but it’s too bad they weren’t more adventurous. I can’t believe they served you crunchy pasta and tried to pass it off as al dente.

    • Considering it’s called the “Chef’s Mercy” dinner, I was expecting SOMETHING a little out of the ordinary. If I just wanted to try dishes off the menu, I would have ordered that way. I also think I could have put together a more interesting meal myself, just using the menu.

      And trying to fool me with crunchy pasta by calling it al dente is a lame move. You might fool other people, but not me. At the very least, they could have offered to remake the dish.

  3. I’d like to take the blame for why it is that our food wasn’t more exciting…but come on. Pregnant doesn’t equal boring!

  4. I would like to blame you, too, but a banana brulee split would have been totally pregnant-lady-friendly! Did you expect all our dishes to be straight off the menu? I thought at least something would have been fresh and new and at the chef’s whim of the day.

  5. When were you at JSix ? We just had the Chef’s Mercy menu at JSix this Saturday. It was as good as ever. We really like Chef Graves style as he is often focusing on a few ingredients in every dish and trying to bring out their flavors with unusal combinations. We also like that the Chef Mercy always had unique dishes which are not on the menu – the main ingredients are on the menu but they create new sides, sauces etc. as they cook the dishes.

    • We were there in June. That’s great you had a wonderful meal – most of our dishes were nicely done, the short rib and pork were delicious. Maybe my expectations were unreasonable for what a Chef’s Mercy dinner would entail, but the dishes were not as “unique” as I thought they’d be. Undercooked pasta, though, is not unique and creme brulee for dessert doesn’t really showcase their sweet side for me.

      • None of them were really unique, unless crunchy pasta is some new technique that we “just don’t get.” And as far as I could tell, we didn’t get anything that we couldn’t have just ordered off the menu. The food was good, but far, FAR from exciting…and I don’t think our expectations were unreasonable at all. I had hoped that the no raw meat/eggs or unpasteurized cheese requirement would have inspired a little more creativity, but it sure seems like they took the easy way out. Oh well. Plenty of other places to try the next time we feel like dropping that kind of money on dinner. :)

      • Two Foodies One Journey

        Not defending JSix, (and BTW I agree that pasta shouldn’t be extra al dente) but every chef has an own style and Chef Graves is known for a very “down to earth style” which is not focused on unusual flavor combination and actually I find for example your short rib/lobster dish quite unique (in a good way) as it is a nice play on surf-and-turf and the chef decided not to go the convertional way of pairing it with potatoes or something creamy. (It’s simple looks like that his definition of unique is very different to yours.) You might be interested in checking the tasting menus at Blanca and Georges (the 5-course is not reguarly on their menu but can be requested every day) as those are much more playful with often (especially) Blanca very unusual flavor/ingredient combination.

  6. It all looks great but that whole thing about the extra al dente pasta turns me off a bit.

    • Ha! Extra al dente… I would have given them points if they said the pasta was just extra al dente, but the guy was passing it off like that’s how al dente pasta is supposed to be and maybe we just hadn’t encountered it before.

      I admit, the food itself was good, but it wasn’t as fanciful as a chef’s menu should be, in my opinion.

      Certainly wasn’t on par with some west Texas bbq… :)

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