Restaurant Review: JG Domestic

Monday comes around so quickly, especially after a busy holiday weekend, filled with good food! Yesterday, we had a ridiculous Easter feast at my mom’s and I have all kinds of fun stuff to share about that in another post. Today, I went back in major detox mode, in preparation for our trip to France, which is just five weeks away. I figure that this will help me justify the ridiculous amount of cheese, chocolate, pastry, wine, butter, etc. that I plan to ingest for 14 days straight while I’m there.

Since the hubby was off from work last Friday, I made him come take me to lunch. Having visited most of the limited options around Drexel many times over, we decided to go to JG Domestic, the new Jose Garces restaurant in the lower level of the Cira Center, right near 30th Street Station. This spot was once home to Rae, which I always enjoyed for its happy hour drink specials and rabbit nachos. I also just randomly recalled an event planners’ luncheon I went to there when it first opened, in which one of the server’s spilled gazpacho all over one of the other guests. I’m not sure who I felt worse for—the server, or the woman who had to leave in a borrowed pair of chef’s pants.

Anyway, back to JG. We arrived at about 1 p.m. and it wasn’t crowded at all, which is a departure from the other Garces restaurants I’ve been to, where you either need a reservation way in advance, or have to brave a three hour wait. I’m not sure if this is because of a lot of people being off for the Easter holiday, or if this is just standard for its off-the-beaten path location. The concept of this restaurant is very…American, for lack of a better word. The menu changes seasonally, and many of the cheeses, meats, and produce come from local farms. The lunch menu offered a variety of salads, soups, and sandwiches, larger plates (like fish and chips and flatbread), and a different blue plate special for each day of the week (Crab Louie Salad and a Shrimp Po’ Boy combo on the day we visited).

We both opted for the burger.

Please don’t send me notes bashing me for eating meat on Good Friday. I told Jesus I was sorry, and we’re cool now.

I ordered mine with cheddar and truffled mushrooms, and the hubby had his with cheddar, bacon on caramelized onions. The bun was soft, with sesame seeds, and tasted slightly sweet (almost like a doughnut). It was good, but I thought there was too much of it and it kind of got in the way of the flavor. It also got really mushy and I ended up getting kind of messy (which is really nothing new when I eat. I should really wear those plastic smocks that they give to kindergarten kids for finger painting). So, I kind of deconstructed my burger and ate most of it without the bread, and this really let all the flavors come through. All in all, the burgers were simple, but they were a decent size, seasoned well, juicy, and cooked to a perfect medium rare.

After falling in love with duck fat fries at Adsum, we decided to split an order here. When our server brought out our food, he bought out the house fries instead. We brought this to his attention, and he promptly offered to bring out the correct item and let us keep the house fries, so we got to compare. Yay, free fries! In the end, I think I slightly preferred the house fries, actually. You could actually taste the potato and the pepper that they were seasoned with, without any greasiness. The duck-fat fries were not as crunchy or flavored as well as those we enjoyed at Adsum. To me, they also tasted a bit gamier. I’m not sure if our order was rushed, but I’m kind of glad we got to keep the other ones. Both fries were served with ketchup and an interesting sauce that was a combination of mayo and malt vinegar.

I would definitely recommend JG Domestic for a reasonably priced, satisfying lunch. It also scores points in my book because of the excellent customer service—in addition to being super cool about the fries, the servers has us in and out in 45 minutes, making it perfect for my allotted 59 minute or less lunch hour.

On a side note, the best lunch I’ve found in all of my years in University City is also a Garces restaurant—Distrito. $15 gets you the Blue Demon Express, a two course lunch and a drink (my favorite combo is the tortilla soup and huarache de hongos, which is a mushroom flatbread). Beats the food trucks on Ludlow Street any day.

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