JACKSON’S FOOD + DRINK
PLEASING COMFORT FOOD IN DOWNTOWN EL SEGUNDO
You have to love a ‘little guy makes it big’ story. You just can’t help rooting for the underdog, especially in the competitive restaurant business. So when Jackson’s Village Bistro thrived for ten years in Hermosa Beach, owner and chef Scott Cooper, a self-taught chef, swung for the fences when he opened the bigger and grander Jackson’s Food + Drink in nearby El Segundo.
While El Segundo may not be as chic as Hermosa Beach, it’s a big beach community filled with folks and families on the go. And at Jackson’s, which is now celebrating its third anniversary, the place is loaded with energy and charm and is a great go-to destination for hearty comfort food and drinks to start a night out on the town.
Chef Scott Cooper first became interested in food while working in the progressive “nouvelle cuisine” restaurants in the early 80’s. In those days, progressive, cutting-edge chefs were often imported from France, where the nouvelle movement began. As a food runner, he sampled virtually all the dishes as they were being plated in the kitchen. The experience was life-changing and led him to a long (some might say obsessive) journey to figure out the science behind those miraculous mixtures.
At Jackson’s, an expansive space loaded in wood, the feel may be sleepy and loose, but the cuisine is anything but lethargic. I found the handcrafted cocktails to be less than stellar, but the competition for first rate drinks in the South Bay isn’t that cut throat.
The Caipirinha, Brazil’s national drink, made with Ypioca Cachaca, fresh lime, and Caster sugar wasn’t very daring. And while I’m not much of a margarita drinker, I’ll give the bar props for its Tommy’s Margarita made with Partido Blanco Tequila, fresh lime juice, homemade agave syrup as it wasn’t bad for a margarita—again, nothing sensational here. The J.F.D. with fresh blackberries, mint, Buffalo Trace Bourbon, Massanes Crème De Mure, lemon juice, topped with ginger beer was too sweet for my liking.
If you’re a fan of stiffer drinks like I am, the D.O.C. with Templeton Rye, Amaro Averna, Amaro Nonino, Jerry Thomas Bitters a good one, as is the Smoke of Scotland with Laphroaig Single Malt Scotch, St. Germain, Martini Extra Dry Vermouth, Amaro Averna. This one is boozy and smoky so lookout. The Hemingway with Matusalem Silver Rum, maraschino liqueur, grapefruit juice, lime juice, simple syrup was very nice. I feared it would be too sweet but the balance was spot on.
Now when it comes to eats, Jackson’s is all about hearty and filling and their dishes are perfect to share. We started with the Filet Mignon Risotto served with oyster mushrooms, Chianti Au Jus, and white truffle oil. This is a great plate to get dinner going as is the Jackson’s Mac ‘n’ Cheese with house made Cabot Sharp White Cheddar, parmesan, and Tallegio. We added Applewood bacon and this dish really came to life.
The Oysters Rockefeller with baby spinach, bread crumbs, Pernod, and garlic butter was a favorite. The oysters were fresh and the breaded taste added a great depth and charm compared to a regular order of oysters, which I’m a big fan of too.
The Roasted Beet Salad with goat cheese, glazed walnuts, orange segments, baby greens and citrus vinaigrette was a great plate of greens. Another winner to share was the Traditional Sausage flatbread with house made fennel sausage, house made rigotta, red onion, and scallions
For our entrees, we went with The Gaucho, a fine skirt steak napped with parsley-garlic-oregano sauce, arugula salad, red onion, toasted garlic baguette, and grilled red potatoes. This one is a good pic for any meat lover.
The Coq Au vin (chicken with red wine), a classic chicken dish braised in Tempranillo wine, served with baby onion and Applewood smoked bacon, along with mushrooms over egg noodles, is a great dish if you’re looking to avoid red meat.
Fans of fish and pasta should consider the Grilled Shrimp Linguini with parmesan, cream, fresh basil, pine nuts, and Demi-Sec Tomatoes. Sure it’s rich and filling but it also delivers.
If you save room for dessert, you can’t go wrong with the decadent and delicious Banana Flambé with vanilla ice cream and Jackson’s own hot fudge, and the Almond Bacon Toffee Bread Pudding with maple whipped cream. Both are sure fire ways to top off a great meal.
I liked the look and vibe at Jackson’s Food + Drink. I was especially fond of the hearty and first rate comfort food. One word of warning, we wanted to make a night out of it after dinner but food coma soon set in and dinner with a friends sounded good enough.
Jackson’s Food + Drink is located at 2041 Rosecrans Ave in El Segundo. Call (310) 606-5500.
Story by Jose Martinez
Photography Courtesy of: Jackson’s Food + Drink