5347 north clark street
chicago, il 60640
moscow mule - vodka, ginger, lime, soda
to begin, carrie and i shared an order of potato and goat cheese croquettes. the crispy breaded potato balls were topped with a bright and punchy anchovy dressing and filled with a mixture of goat cheese and herbs.
following the croquettes was a complimentary plate of cornbread. as a rule cornbread is something i will eat but rarely does it do much for me. this, however, was different. served piping hot, the cornbread was crisp on the outside, light and springy on the inside, and contained several whole kernels of corn which added a pop of sweetness along with some textural nuance.
for my main dish, i had my selection narrowed down to two southern classics, chicken and dumplings and shrimp and grits. being that i was really unsure if i had ever actually had shrimp and grits before, i decided to go that route and was not let down. at big jones, the dish is made with gulf coast white "gumbo" shrimp, creamy antebellum heirloom grits, mushroom and tasso gravy with house made worcestershire, and scallions.
carrie knew right away that she wanted to try the gumbo made with andouille sausage, chicken, and aromatic rice from arkansas. however what she received was not quite what was anticipated. when we were placing our orders the server made sure to let us know that the gumbo was a "dark roux" and without asking questions we consented. when the dish arrived at the table and we each tried a bite it became very clear why it came with a slight warning. this was not like any other gumbo we had ever tasted as the flavor was so incredibly deep and bold that i wouldn't hesitate to use the word bitter to describe it. even though it wasn't a perfect match for our palettes it was far from inedible, and we decided that the more we tasted it and became used to the flavor the more we liked it.
i only had to look at the dessert menu for a brief moment to decide how to end my meal. pictured above is the peanut gooey butter cake with buttermilk ice cream, coffee crunch, sorghum molasses, and banana anglaise. without exaggeration, this was one of the most satisfying desserts i have had in recent memory. the way the hot and gooey cake mixed with the cold and tart buttermilk ice cream was fabulous.
while not quite on the level of the peanut gooey butter cake, carrie's selection of buttermilk pie with muddled raspberries, spearmint ice cream, and cracked pepper candy was not far behind. feeling rather stuffed after finishing my entire helping, i only intended to try a bite of the portion carrie couldn't finish but ended up clearing the plate. while the pie (served cold) was excellent, it is the spearmint ice cream that really stood out to me as there was no subtlety to its flavor whatsoever.
aside from the gumbo which if nothing can be considered a valuable learning experience, carrie and i absolutely loved big jones. all the other food was excellent and i really cannot say enough about the desserts. later that night we did a dessert tasting at michelin starred tru and based on taste alone nothing came close to topping big jones' $7 peanut gooey butter cake. andersonville is very lucky to have big jones, and based on both the dinner and weekend brunch menus if we lived in the neighborhood it would be very difficult to stay away.