gas·tro·pub noun [ˈgastrəˌpəb] – A pub that specializes in serving high-quality food. Kickbacks Gastropub in Riverside definitely has the “pub” part of this definition down; they boast over 600 different bottled beers and 84 beers on tap. With an impressive #1 restaurant in Jacksonville rating on Urbanspoon (and top 20 on Yelp), I was expecting a strong showing from the food too. In that area, I was disappointed.
I suppose a caveat here is that I am not much of a beer drinker, and didn’t order any on this visit. However, I have visited a number of gastropubs that do serve excellent food, so I find it difficult to give Jax a pass on giving this place a top rating. Cool hangout? Yes. Worthy of votes on websites that rank your eateries for out-of-towners? Probably not.
I was waffling on what to order from the extensive menu–which contains everything from typical bar food to pizza to chicken cordon bleu–before I found an item that combined two things I was interested in ordering. The French Mushroom Spread seemed like a nice appetizer, but I was sure I wouldn’t eat it all on my own (and Mario doesn’t like mushrooms), but behold! the Chicken Bistro Sandwich (focaccia bread filled with roasted chicken breast, mozzarella, fresh spinach and fire roasted red peppers) comes slathered in some of that very spread. I picked onion petals as my side:
This was a pretty decent panini and quite large for $8. I ate half the next day for lunch. However, the chicken could have used more seasoning and was approaching the dry side.
Mario ordered a burger that unfortunately wasn’t even worth being pictured. Another huge portion size, but from the first bite he found it dreadful. He had complaints about the texture of the meat, the seasoning (apparently a mix of Worcestershire and chopped onions), and the cooking temperature. A few more bites and he was no longer interested in eating it.
On top of the mediocre to bad food, we had at least a 30 minute wait (probably closer to 45) between ordering and receiving our food. I have since heard that this is par for the course at Kickbacks, but it seemed bizarre for an early evening when the place was not at capacity.
So Jax, what gives? How did I miss the magic of Kickbacks? Were my expectations just too high?