June 2010 Issue
Jag's Steak & Seafood
Destination dining at its best in Southwest Ohio
A few days after our recent trip to Jag’s Steak & Seafood
, we mentioned the trip to a friend who said, “Really? We were there that night, too.” To tell the truth, missing somebody at Jag’s is pretty easy to do — and there’s a reason for it that speaks to the very warm, appealing personality of the place.
Unlike most contemporary restaurants, Jag’s goes against the much-in-vogue big, open dining room that has made hectic liveliness and crowd noise so much a part of today’s dining-out experience, whether you like it or not. Jag’s plays it just the opposite, and it’s a welcome difference. While large, the restaurant is divided into numerous smaller rooms, decorated in a rich, old-fashioned, clubby style of dark wood, low light, hearths and bookshelves, each providing for a more intimate encounter. You get the sense that you’ve arrived for a meal in a wealthy friend’s well-appointed home.
That sense carries on to everything else — service, food and price. The restaurant in the bustling Butler County suburb of West Chester offers a high-end fine-dining experience that has turned it into a much-discussed destination for diners in Cincinnati, Dayton and beyond. Once you’ve been, you’ll know why.
Both our smart, sharp server and the general manager who paid a visit to the table recommended the filet mignon or the Chilean sea bass, and we were wise to follow their advice. The fish arrived perfectly cooked and seasoned, a thick filet pan-seared with chili butter, plus garlic mashed potatoes and asparagus, that couldn’t have been done any better.
At $39.95 it’s a mid-priced entree; Jag’s prices its main dishes from around $23 for some pasta and poultry entrees up into the $45-$55 range for most steaks. The most expensive item is the highly recommended — and properly so — filet mignon for $67.95. The 8-ounce piece of Kobe beef is described on the menu as “an exclusive grade ... from the Wagyu cattle. Its all-grain diet and genetics yield a filet that is highly marbleized and extremely tender.” No argument here, it was succulent and moist and almost buttery on the fork. Get it done medium as the kitchen recommends. In fact, whatever they recommend, just do it.
A meal of this quality asks one to walk up slowly toward it, and the appetizers, soups and salads didn’t disappoint. Alas, we never got to the raw bar, but we enjoyed the lobster bisque and roasted red pepper bisque, the latter spiced with sage that gave it a pleasant heartiness. The Mountain Wedge Salad danced on the plate, ringed with pecans and berries and flush with blue cheese. and the Winterberry Salad was a flavor burst of gourmet greens, berries, walnuts and red-wine vinaigrette that simply worked.
That’s what’s right about Jag’s: Everything works. Our server never made a wrong move; the manager worried about the temperature in the room; the books on the shelves by our table were real titles that a lady across the room started perusing as if she were at home in her own living room. The wine list was impeccably filled with well-chosen house favorites; the bar was fabulous, wrapping around a raised piano stand whose soft-jazz performers lit up the room; and the parking valet ran to get our car.
Too bad our friend didn’t see us that night; Jag’s is the sort of place in which one is quite happy to be seen.
Steak & Seafood,
5980 West Chester Rd., West Chester 45069, 513/860-5353. jags.com
5–10 p.m.; Fri.–Sat., 5–11 p.m. Dinner entrées: $20–$68. Credit cards accepted.
Handicapped accessible. Reservations strongly recommended.