Short Orders: Jaxx Steakhouse

Jaxx Steakhouse
14925 Midway, Addison

The venerable steakhouse or cafe or Mickey Mantle hangout is showing its age. Splotches from once-incessant cigarette smoke lends 'character' to the pressed tin ceiling, the warped tiles supporting eight weathered fans. If you squint, the place resembles Woolworth's, circa 1930, with dark wood and rigid aisles.

Jaxx may not be the most progressive restaurant, in other words. But however staid the menu and burdened the decor, it continues to watch as flashier concepts come and go.

The reason? Steak and a baked potato, clam chowder ungussied by creme fraiche or other such, simple smoked salmon--these are wise and sturdy artifacts. They've survived nouvelle cuisine, the granola craze, new American, sushi...whatever a fickle dining population considers fashionable.

I'm not saying we shouldn't flirt with change. No, just that it's nice when the ebb and flow of culture leaves a reminder of the past.

And that's where Jaxx fits in. Steak Oscar is what you'd expect Robert Young in Father Knows Best to order, yet there it sits: rich, though somehow demur crabmeat perched on an aged filet pulled from the grill precisely at rare, tortured just enough by heat so intense char marks blemish the surface--ah, the glories of nostalgia.

Their clam chowder tastes of stability. Full of shellfish and seasoned carefully, it's a balanced, hearty bowl...thrown slightly off on one recent occasion by a heavy roux. An orange roughy entree showed the same certainty when it comes to salt and pepper. Even when they go a little wild--ceviche, for example--Jaxx's kitchen manages to layer the flavors impeccably.

In the latter's case, lime, cilantro and especially chili vie for supremacy, but fall short, leaving you with a beautiful standoff.

Oh, the ceviche's presentation is rather ungainly. The bread depends on sickening whipped spread, sugary and airy and more akin to heavy cream than butter. And their sides--particularly the mixed vegetables and twice-baked potato--can generally be nudged to the side without much regret.

But Jaxx continues to hang in there. The Mick may be gone, but a wall of photos around the bar serve as a stand in. The bar scene on Friday, round about happy hour, rivals any place in town...especially in the graying department.

No matter. Grandfathers with martinis in hand tell some great stories. Then there's welcoming service and the precise, old-school kitchen...for the most part, Jaxx is well worth a revisit, now and then.