By Carroll Leggett
Jeffery Adams on Fourth, the new restaurant at the intersection of Marshall and Fourth, has one of the city’s prime locations. But two other eateries at that spot stumbled proving “location, location, location” is not always the answer. In this case, exceptional food and service may be, however, and Jeffery Adams is showing diners that it can provide both. I recommend it. Co-owners Adam Andrews and Jeff Bassett of the Old Fourth Street Filling Station (you see how they arrived at the name “Jeffrey Adams”) know the business and have created a contemporary American menu that will please most diners.
I have had two of the salads on the luncheon menu – the JA Caesar and the Asian Chop Chop. Both were generous servings and priced at $7 each. One buck more and you get a cup of their excellent soup which when ordered separately is $3 — a value. I considered the addition of deep -fried baby artichokes to the classic Caesar recipe a treat and appreciated the fact that the menu titled this salad “JA Caesar” alerting me that it would have an in-house twist. I give that salad good scores but recommend that the kitchen go easy on the lemon. It was a bit tart.
I also enjoyed the Asian Chop Chop, an artful, constructed salad with bok choy, mixed greens, carrots, red peppers, edamame, cucumbers, and cashews. I was impressed that the server could tell me immediately that “edamame” are fresh soy beans. Their sweetness and tender texture were a nice foil for the salty, crunchy cashews. The mixed greens were exceedingly fresh. The Asian Chop Chop had enough diversity in texture to be satisfying. Dressing is the choice of the diner. Excellent.
A well-traveled friend of mine tells me she has ordered the Jeffrey Adams Ahi Tuna Salad several times and loves it. It contains mixed greens, hearts of palm, tomatoes, wontons, red pepper, and Kalamata olives. $10. Sounds like a winner, also.
I am a great soup lover, and I have taken advantage of adding a cup of soup to my order for a dollar — $3 when ordered alone. I have tried three, all excellent: chicken Florentine, chicken noodle (actually no “noddles” but a creamy, flavorful chicken and pasta soup) and tomato bisque. Ordering the tomato bisque was a stretch for me since I think restaurants overwork it. But it remains a popular choice for many, and I enjoyed the rich Jeffery Adams version which has just the right amount of herbs.
The sandwich menu ranges from $6-$10 and includes several wraps (chicken, tuna, salmon), a French Dip, a burger, and a crab cake sandwich. I chose a crab cake sandwich priced at $9. It was an appropriate serving with good seasoning and the right proportion of filler. It was served on a bun with a dill pickle spear. I prefer burgers and crab cake sandwiches served open face in the style of Village Tavern and others because I am a knife and fork guy and rarely eat the top piece of bread. Served open face, lettuce and tomato stay crisp until eaten. In addition, the order looks more generous when presented. For more ambitious lunch-time dining, Jeffrey Adams offers maple Bourbon glazed salmon ($12), grilled chicken pesto pasta ($10), petite filet ($15) and pumpkin ravioli ($10).
Dinner at Jeffrey Adams was delightful. Our server (applause for Valeria) was on top of her game – gracious, knowledgeable about the menu, professional, and attentive. Small plates are available ($7-$10) with spicy sesame seared tuna at the top of the list and hummus, spring rolls, and artichokes stuffed with goat cheese offered at $7. We chose an excellent smoked bacon crab dip with lots of toasted baguette rounds – plenty for two – at $9.
Limited offerings from the luncheon sandwich and salad menu are available at dinner. “House Creations” (entrees) range from $16 for wild mushroom ravioli to “Twisted Lobster and Flounder Picatta” and Guinness Braised Short Ribs at $19 that have received rave revues from friends. The maple Bourbon salmon served with mashed potatoes and string beans, while simple, was perfectly prepared and presented and delicious – a salmon lover’s delight.
A portion of the dinner menu is devoted to “Wood-Fired Steaks” which Jeffrey Adams presents as its signature dish. It offers five steaks – a 4-oz filet at $15 and an 8-oz at $23; 12- oz New York Strip $22; 14-oz ribeye $21; 8-oz “Candy Bar Sirloin” $15; and a 20-oz Porterhouse $29 – that’s a whopping big steak!. Seven toppings ($2-$6) and five sauces ($1 or $2) may be added. One gets a choice of two sides selected from creamy Yukon potatoes, smoked Gouda mac, mashed sweet potatoes, creamed spinach, asparagus and red peppers, and baby green beans.
I chose the 14-oz ribeye – which is a hearty cut – and ordered it medium rare. Chef Adam Andrews was in the kitchen, and my steak came from the wood-fired grill perfectly prepared, tender, with real wood flavor. I am something of a purist on steaks – I prefer the meat simply prepared with little or no adornment. I did order the French fried onion “topping,” while demurring on butter poached lobster ($6), honey BBQ shrimp ($5), smoked gouda pimento cheese ($2), and others. The sauces included au poivre ($2), compound bleu and bacon ($2) and red wine demi ($1). My sides – creamed spinach and smoked Gouda mac – were served in ramekins and extraordinarily good. I would not have turned down another helping of the spinach.
The wine list has 43 selections ranging from $22 to $43. Reds dominate the list. Sparkling wines include two reasonably priced quarter bottles and three ranging from $22 to $85 with glasses available for $6. No North Carolina wines are offered. Most wines are available by the glass. Domestic and imported bottled and draft beers are available. The bar stocks premium brands and has a menu of designer or “craft” drinks utilizing fresh ingredients. Bourbon drinkers especially will be pleased with Jeffery Adams’ top-shelf brands. A nice addition to the bar area is a lounge with fireplace, leather furnishings and a big-screen TV – an attractive and inviting space.
I asked myself two key questions that help me evaluate a new restaurant in my own mind: Would you go back again and would you recommend it to a friend, It’s “Yes” to both as to Jeffrey Adams. Applause.