- A veggie sandwich on focacia served with sunshine at Jackson's Corner.
It also doesn't hurt that the open, bright space, dominated by blonde wood and brick, has something for pretty much everyone. It's perfect for your morning coffee and croissant with the paper, a lunch meeting or takeout for the office (it's just blocks from downtown) or a couple of pints with a sandwich at one of the sidewalk tables on a summer day. As Jackson's is rather near my corner, I've spent an afternoon or two plugged in at the window counter using the free wi-fi (as I am now) and have never felt pressured by the friendly staff to wrap it up after my meal was finished.
For all its many upsides, the real draw is the consistently impressive food. House-made pastries, pastas and breads, local ingredients whenever possible and great flavor combinations elevate the paper menu and casual, counter-service atmosphere well above your average deli. Daily egg scrambles, available both with meat and vegetarian, are a good bet for breakfast. Dinner includes specials that are high-end restaurant grade (as well as near the price). On one visit, the pasta special ($14), rotini in garlic and white wine sauce with shrimp, fresh spinach and tomatoes, kalamata olives and Romano cheese served with a hunk of fresh baked bread was light yet full of engaging flavors and could have come out of the kitchen of a fine Italian restaurant.
Lunch fare, nearly all of which is also available for dinner, is where Jackson's Corner stands out most. With a large brick oven at the center of the open-air kitchen, it's not surprising that the pizza is excellent. Regular combos ($10-$14) on thin tasty homemade crust like the chicken pesto and the Mediterranean with chicken sausage and caper olive tomato sauce are supplemented by daily specials worth checking out. Sandwiches are hearty and attractive across the board, but my favorite is the Havana ($10). The slow-roasted pork with ancho-chili sauce, caramelized onions and a melted mozzarella-provolone blend beautifully merge into a smoky flavor that resembles barbecued pulled pork more than a traditional Cuban sandwich. I ordered it on a soft, house-baked focaccia roll kissed with olive oil (ciabatta is also an option) which perfectly framed the potentially messy filling making it possible for each juicy bite to end up squarely in my mouth instead of on my lap. Salads are strong as well, though the regular mixed green salad could benefit from a little more variety, and the sesame-thyme vinaigrette was sweeter than the name would suggest. I usually go for the Caesar ($8 whole, $4.50 half), a lovely lemony version with the perfect amount of dressing and a nice helping of melt-in-your-mouth shaved Parmesan.
My only real complaint about the food at Jackson's Corner is that the wonderful daily soups ($4.50 cup, $6.50 pint), which are among the best items on the menu, are only available until 3:30 p.m. If you're going to make chicken curry, tomato gorgonzola and southwestern chicken soup so flavorful and perfectly seasoned, accenting the important ingredients and avoiding the needless fillers that often clutter or dilute otherwise strong soups and stews, why not make a little more so it's available all day?
A minor complaint, I guess. But I'm convinced it wouldn't go to waste-at least not with me around the corner.
845 NW Delaware Ave., 647-2198. Daily, 7 a.m.-9 p.m.