Dude Food: Jack's Backyard

Jack's Backyard and Chill Grill
2303 Pittman St.

Dude factor: 7 (Jack Black) on a scale of 1 (Jack Osbourne) to 10 (Jack London).

I've been meaning to get a drink or two at Jack's Backyard since it opened on Halloween, but never thought of it as a Dude Food destination until I saw chef Susie Buck's Appetite For Instruction demonstration of their signature Jack's Bites. Wrapping one kind of meat with jalapeños inside another kind of meat shows that she knows how dudes think.

The menu is mostly diner comfort food, with a few specialty items, such as brisket sandwiches and pimiento cheese sandwiches. I considered making a meal out of the Jack's Bites appetizers, but then remembered that I can always just make them at home and went for the chicken-fried steak (a suspiciously cheap $7.50) with mashed potatoes and green beans instead. My dinner companions (these guys) ordered quesadillas ($3) from the kids meal and a bowl of the soup of the day ($5.50), tomato-basil.

I was feeling generous, so I ordered them a round of root beer floats as well. The floats and my beer were both on the pricey side at $4.50 apiece. Neither was worth it. The floats were served in pint glasses, but each only had a single smallish scoop of ice cream. They quickly disappeared as we waited ... and waited .... and waited for our food.

The delay was understandable, given that one cook and a single server had to take care of a table of 13. A dude's gotta be patient, sometimes. And it gave us time to check out the exposed particleboard walls and painted framing studs, suggesting they stopped in the middle of remodeling and said to themselves, "fuck it, we're done fixing up this shit. Let's hang a few paintings."

Not a bad ethic when there's beer around.

Finally the food arrived. The steak, it was pretty good--especially for the price. But when you get down to it, the meat could have used some more pounding. The green beans looked too uniform to be fresh, but they were seasoned well enough to disguise any frozen or canned taste.

All in all it was a decent meal. Aside from the wait, the only downside is lack of parking. Oh, and how hard it is to find. But you have to respect a place with pool tables and outdoor fire pits located next to a trailer park.

If bonfires aren't manly, I don't know what is.

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