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Feb. 24, 2014

Sides shine at Jackie's Restaurant

by Abir Muhuri, Online Entertainment Editor
Beyond two velvet black curtains lies an eclectic-urban hangout with fluorescent lights and fading brick walls. After a grueling start to the week, a Southern comfort menu marries beautifully to a chic city eat-out.

Jackie's restaurant is located in Downtown Silver Spring, and has a enjoyable and laid back atmosphere. Courtesy of Jackie's Restaurant
Jackie's restaurant is located in Downtown Silver Spring, and has a enjoyable and laid back atmosphere.
Monday night is traditionally Fried Chicken night, which hosts a fixed menu. For $12 a plate, finger-licking chicken comes served with all the satisfying sides, such as bacon-braised kale, chive and cheddar biscuits and Yukon gold potato salad.

Ordering is simple with fixed menu cards. For pescetarians, breaded-fried tilapia can be requested in place of chicken. An open kitchen shows snippets of boiled greens and deep-oil fryers working their Southern magic.

Waiter service is quick, with meals served on oval plates and sided with honey butter and Jackie's mumbo sauce. The three-piece fried chicken isn't the expected golden, curly-crunch delight. Unfortunately, the color is a burnt brown and grease is noticeably clinging to the bready exterior. Biting into it, one would expect a succulent flesh with crispy-light fried coating. However, the coating is well seasoned with peppery flavors, but the chicken itself comes out bone-dry and tasteless. With fried chicken being the signature of Jackie's Mondays, it fails to impress with burnt skin and lackluster flavor.

If ordering fish, the tilapia offers a slightly better alternative. In this case, the fish is perfectly cooked, flaking easily across the grain. Moist with its natural juices, a crunchy exterior features a peppery Cajun rub that isn't too overwhelming. Fish-lovers are sure to love the tilapia treat, served as two fillets.

However, the abundance of sides saves the meal from being in vain. A cool Yukon gold potato salad is far from heavy and rich. Jackie's serves its taters in a light and airy mayo dressing with the right amount of richness and citrus coating. A sprinkle of chopped red onions and celery make this salad a refreshing contrast to the chicken. For more piquant flavors, kale braised in bacon offers surprising sweet and sour notes, with the luxury of bacon fat running through the creamy greens. Kale can be a bitter vegetable, but in this case contributes a valuable earthy flavor. Jackie's executes this balance perfectly.

To complement, a cheddar and chive biscuit lets you sop up the juices left over. Although flaky with a cheddar-nutty flavor, chives are missing that extra kick of flavor. Nonetheless, honey-butter served in a rose dollop offers an elegant spread for the comforting bread.

With your feet tapping to the upbeat music and rhythm of the open-kitchen chefs chopping away, Jackie's provides a hip vibe with its food, much like the pace of the surrounding Downtown Silver Spring. But just as its main course menu is comfortingly a contrast to the setting, the dessert of the day will ship you far away to a different place. The dessert item known as Carolyn's sweet treat happened to be donuts this time around. The pastry itself is light, airy and perfectly spongy. A sticky glaze is topped with powdered sugar, offering a delightful mouthful of chewy texture and powdery air. For ending a heavy comfort-food meal, dessert is a light finish that is sure to impress.

Overall, Jackie's wows with a few signature sides, revamped with modern flair. Dessert is a winner too, but the star of the show, the skillet-fried chicken, shows several errors in execution.

Jackie's Restaurant. Located at 8081 Georgia Avenue, Silver Spring, MD 20910. Hours: Tuesday and Thursday, 5:30 pm 9:30 pm; Sunday, 5:30 pm 9:30 pm; Friday and Saturday, 5:30 pm 10:30 pm; Monday, 5:30pm 9:30 pm (Family-style fried chicken for $12/person)



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