Sky Full of Bacon

Big Jones, Medium Mojo

I have a little bit of a qualm about the idea of upscale Southern, I think there was upscale Southern dining which is largely extinct and there is downscale Southern which is wildly popular in many forms and then there is an attempt to take the latter and serve it like the former. This is a bad thing if it just means charging more for a tamed version, like upscale barbecue or Cajun, but a good thing if it means taking the produce and flavors of the region and treating them with the respect we now pay other regions— using them freshly and seasonally and with respect for time-tested traditions. On the whole Big Jones, a “coastal Southern” restaurant in Andersonville, seems to be oriented to that better sense of upscale Southern dining, and with at least the start of some sophistication in that direction. The menu is still somewhat short and limited to pretty familiar things— gumbo, pulled pork, steak (!)— but maybe, over time, it will dig deeper into Southern traditions and become a Chicago equivalent of some of the innovative new Southern restaurants.

Very traditional start (because it started the same way as my recent Southern party!)— pimento cheese spread on a cheese biscuit.

This was the best dish of the night– a really tasty wilted salad with tasso ham, and pickled yellow beans. Fresh, tart, full of flavor, this is the sort of dish I imagined I would have (and didn’t, really) when I went to Vie some months back.

I doubt this pulled pork ever saw anything resembling a smoker, but very good when you combined it with the rather vaguely-named “Carolina sauce,” a green dressing that might have been Green Goddess, or perhaps something with mirliton, which appears multiple times elsewhere on the menu). The slaw that came with it was missing some oomph, though, needed mustard or vinegar or something:

I was a little surprised that a Southern menu offered little that would have flown with the younger son, and the presence of a stereotypical kids’ menu (chicken tenders!) was not the help to this parent that was intended. At least the mac and cheese was freshly and impressively made.

Fried chicken salad, untried by me.

A nice, authentic if not exactly world-changing gumbo, plated artfully with a pyramid of rice topped by an okrapus.

The bill was a very reasonable $60ish (the mac and cheese was comped, not for any fault that we saw, possibly for the fact that they saw me taking pictures….)

Big Jones
5347 N. Clark
Chicago, IL 60640
(773) 275-5725

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