Four staff members of The Explorer Newspaper and three readers made a trip to Jax Kitchen on July 18 for Sippin’ Social, which takes place on the third Thursday each month.
A calm, dimly lit atmosphere with soft music playing greeted our crowd, and allowed for good conversations throughout the dining experience. We talked about anything from past stories to bucket lists to politics to homemade beers.
Service was prompt upon arrival, and the various waiters who checked on us for our two-hour outing were genuinely friendly without being robotic as they explained various food and drink options.
Jax Kitchen runs happy hour from 4 to 6 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, and includes half-off wine by the glass, half-off appetizers, $3 house select beer, and $5 infusion cocktails and well drinks.
I began the happy hour with a Wasatch Brewery Belgium White Ale (regularly $4.50).
This 6 percent alcohol by volume beer is seasoned with orange peel and coriander, and tastes similar to a Blue Moon, though it was lighter, less filling, and overall, easier to drink.
Photographer Randy Metcalf kicked things off with The Little Piggy (regularly $9.50), an apple-infused whiskey drink mixed with honey, simple syrup and fresh lemon.
Served in a mason jar, the drink was light and crisp, with a slight sour kick from the lemon. For the non-whiskey drinker, the combination of ingredients subdued the taste of the liquor, making this a tasty, cold, refreshing summer drink for anybody.
As an appetizer, we ordered Jax Snack Slate (regularly $15), a large chef’s choice plate that varies daily, but in this case, came with an abundance of selection, including honey-roasted peanuts, pepperoni, sliced eggs, toasted bread, butter, cinnamon apple slices, purple haze goat cheese, prairie breeze cheese, pickled onion, and olives.
The dish was pleasing to look at and just as tasty. The wide variety of samples provided a safety net should there have been anything that tasted unfavorably, though that was not really an issue in this chef’s plate. The only thing that was a bit overwhelming was the pickled onion, which tasted like sauerkraut but more tangy and vinegary, and with a lot more kick. A piece of advice – try not to breathe while chewing this.
But, otherwise, the meats, cheeses, and additional sides were each fresh and appetizing. The plate was large enough that between the two of us, we did not finish it. For what was basically a blind, trusting food order, the chef picked a great variety of items.
Some delicious complimentary chips were also added to our table during the meal. In a polite and not overbearing manner, several different waiters checked in on us throughout the evening, asking about the quality of food and drink, and quietly removing our dishes as we finished an item. Though the food and drinks were delicious, the service of the personable and down-to-Earth staff was arguably the best part of the overall experience.
We closed out the evening with one more drink each. I had the Sucker Punch (regularly $9.50), served with vodka, grenadine, orange juice, sour mix, and an orange slice.
The fruity drink tasted like candy, but was at the same time not overly sweet. It had a crisp taste with a slight kick of alcohol, though for the most part the vodka was subdued by the abundance of flavorful ingredients.
Randy finished his evening with a Squatter’s Hop Rising IPA (regularly $5), which, like the Belgium Ale, was nationally brewed in Utah.
The beer had a hint of malt and was a sweet IPA with a bitter finish, which he found quite enjoyable.
Without the discounted prices of happy hour, the restaurant is a bit pricey. For those on a budget, it would be wise to visit during the listed happy hour time slots, as, in our experience, it saved us $17. Also, try to beat the dinner crowd by arriving before 5:30 p.m.
Jax Kitchen is located at 7286 N. Oracle Road.
Keep an eye out in next week’s publication for the next Sippin’ Social location.