News and notes from Fredericksburg's entertainment scene
EATS: SIDLE UP TO COWBOY JACK’S
Maybe I’ve just got a burr under my saddle, but what’s the deal with all the cowboy joints?
These days every new venue has got to scream “Texas,” “Tex–Mex” or “Western.” Is it just a license for folks to underdress for dinner? Or to eat food that’s mostly an excuse to ladle on the bacon, cheese or, OK, chorizo?
The latest place to jump on the wagon train is Cowboy Jack’s, the first one built outside the chain’s native Minnesota. A Western bar for Southerners as interpreted by a bunch of Midwesterners, Cowboy Jack’s is located in Gateway Village, a shopping area that has got a few infrastructure issues.
Cowboy Jack’s fits right in with its surroundings. I can appreciate going for a rustic look, but this place looks like a great, big pile of driftwood, and that’s just me being kind. I mean, I’ve heard of distressed wood before, but this building’s façade looks positively anguished, like flotsam that washed ashore from Kevin Costner’s “Waterworld.” Or like a giant game of Jenga gone horribly wrong.
One thing’s for sure: Cowboy Jack’s, with a bar that runs length of the place, both inside and out, looks more like a watering hole than a true dining destination, especially with that slogan of theirs—“Whiskey Drunk and Hell Bound”—which is evocative of the Hank Williams Jr. song title, if nothing else.
The venue features loud contemporary country music and loads of flatscreens, booth seating and hurricane lamps. Think sports bar meets Wild West, or “Sports Center” meets “Deadwood,” if you will.
Cowboy Jack’s opened recently to little fanfare, however our server said business has been building and that Mother’s Day receipts were solid. Before getting down to serious business—the grub—a word about the dishware: impressive. With its vivid colors and solid, substantial feel, it looks like Fiesta Ware. And the food looks really striking on it. The glassware, by comparison, seems cheesy. Plastic tumblers? They must be trying to limit the breakage, courtesy of all their rowdy friends, but come on, Jack!
We started with the potato skins, with bacon and jalapeños, as well as some queso dip and chips. Both had some heat and tasted better than pub food has got a right to. Our entrées came out right on top of the apps, so the table got crowded in a hurry.
I had the steak salad. The beef had been cooked to order and was nicely seasoned. Altogether, it was a very satisfying, fresh-tasting salad. My wife had the chipotle turkey burger, toward which she was similarly well-disposed, as well as a “wedge” salad she accidentally subbed for fries instead of a house salad.
A wedge salad, for those not in the know, like yours truly, is nothing more than half a head of iceberg lettuce dolled up with a little bacon and some blue cheese dressing. Folks apparently think nothing of paying $9 for this simple, if not exactly wholesome, pleasure. However, our waitress evidently took pity on us, because she applied only a $5 upcharge, which, like the salad itself, made us pretty doggone happy.
For dessert, I ordered a cup of coffee and a very pleasing slice of red velvet cheesecake, a study in textures that wasn’t nearly as excessive as the name implies. As for the coffee, well, let me just say it never gets old hearing my favorite seven words at meal’s end: “We had to brew a fresh pot.” The coffee, which indeed tasted freshly made, was served in a huge, heavy, branded camp mug. Hey, that’s more like it, pardner!
I’m afraid of heaping more praise on Cowboy Jack’s, which greatly exceeded expectations. It could only assist them in rustling up a loyal clientele, which might encourage an even more over-the-top cowpoke place to expand into our territories.
Coyote Ugly Saloon–Fredericksburg, anyone?
What: Cowboy Jack’s
Address: 2312 Plank Road, Fredericksburg (in Gateway Village shopping center)
Info: 371-6200, theaftermid nightgroup.com or find them on Facebook
Hours: 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Monday–Friday; 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday–Saturday
Prices: Appetizers: $7–$12; Soups/salads: $5–$12; Burgers/sandwiches: $8–$12; Entrée specials: $13–$22; Desserts: $5–$6
The Scoop: New cowboy eatery with real roadhouse feel (not Logan’s- or Texas- but Patrick Swayze-style “Roadhouse”) is a great place for people-watching, enjoying a beer, docking your Dingos or digging into a plate of nachos.
Kurt Rabin: 540/374-5000 | email@example.com