Great friends, great conversation, great atmosphere, and great food and drinks make for a great start to a weekend. I met friends at Jacs Dining & Tap House one Friday late-afternoon and we had a wonderful experience:
Jacs is located on Monroe St., just down the road from Edgewood College. The area is booming and Jacs is a big part of that. Seating is available at the bar or in the dining area. It has a relaxed atmosphere that has a local flavor and feel, which extend to the menu, and which is why we decided to pop in.
Our server was prompt, courteous and friendly. It was obvious she enjoyed what she was doing. She gave us two different menus, food and drink. The selections were many, thus the need for two menus. Jacs has 15 different local and Belgian beers on tap. My friend and I had never tried gluten-free beer, so we decided to kick off the weekend with a bottle of Green’s Gluten Free Tripel Blonde Ale. It is from Belgium and came in a 16 oz. bottle; perfect for us to share. We didn’t know what to expect and were surprised by how flavorful it was — crisp and full bodied, yet smooth. We would never have guessed that it was gluten-free, and we were tempted to order another! Instead, we decided to try a bottle of New Grist, another gluten-free beer that is brewed by Lakefront Brewery out of Milwaukee. New Grist was the first certified gluten-free beer made in the United States and it is right here from our home state! New Grist was also crisp and smooth with a fruity aroma. Again, we would not have guessed it was gluten-free. A good friend of mine was forced to go gluten-free a few years back and she told me how much she missed having a cold beer on a summer afternoon. With these two great choices, she will be able to enjoy that mug of beer!
Our server shared with us that Jacs changes the menu by the season. This supports their vision of using local ingredients whenever possible. The menu has options for everyone, including vegetarians and those who are looking for gluten-free. Our server informed us that most of the dishes can be prepared gluten-free; you just have to ask.
Since it was late-afternoon, we decided to share our selections and went more the lunch route. Jacs has several entrees, including vegetarian and even a fresh catch of the day. We started with two different appetizers. First, we had to try the famous frites, which are hand-cut French fries served with a classic aioli dip. They were crispy, but not greasy, and the aioli dip was so delicious, we asked for more. The only problem with the frites was that they are addictive! The almond stuffed dates appetizer was next. They are bacon-wrapped, baked with brown sugar and served on top of spinach salad. They were sweet and salty at the same time — delicious! We also had to try a bowl of the squash soup, which was light and creamy. Another hit at our table!
What to order for our main course? Our server suggested that we try one of the flatbreads, another specialty of Jacs. Of the four to choose from, we picked the peach and prosciutto, a flatbread topped with peach jam, Brie, caramelized Vidalia onions, prosciutto, arugula and walnuts. It, too, was delicious. Whenever possible, the Vidalia onions and lettuce come from local suppliers. It was fresh and filling at the same time.
How can you go to Jacs and not have one of their famous sandwiches? Jacs has 3 different vegetarian sandwiches to choose from, which we were tempted by; however, we went the traditional burger route. The Jacs burger is far from ordinary. It is made with ground beef from Pecatonica Valley Farms, which is located in Hollandale, about 40 miles southwest of Madison. The burger was juicy and cooked to perfection. It was served on a ciabatta roll, topped with Wisconsin Cheddar, romaine lettuce, tomato, caramelized onions and their classic aioli sauce. The burger was huge, perfect for two to split.
When our server came by and asked if we wanted dessert, we looked at each other and said, “Why not?” even though we were full! While they all looked delicious, we tried the flourless chocolate cake. It is gluten-free and will satisfy anyone’s chocolate desires. Since it was flourless it was heavy and very filling. Topped with a mint crème Chantilly sauce and fresh strawberries, it was a wonderful way to top off a delicious meal.
Jacs has evening specials every night of the week, including two-for-one Jacs burgers on Tuesday nights. They have selections for everyone, and whether you want gluten-free, vegetarian or American fare, you won’t be disappointed.
jacs dining and tap house
2611 Monroe St., Madison
Restaurant manager: Rebecca Mergen
Photo by Rebecca Mergen