Thursday, October 11, 2012


108-25 Ascan Avenue
Forest Hills, NY 11375
(718) 268-2696

If you're anything like me, you've been itching for Forest Hills to get a wine bar for years. If you're anything like me, you feel like it's hard for a neighborhood to honestly call itself "upscale" without one. If you're anything like me, you feel a sense of relief and joy with the arrival of Jack & Nellie's in the old Q space. At long last we fine fair residents of the 11375 zip code have a real wine bar, not just a few restaurants that sell a few bottles of plonk and don't mind if you sit in the corner with a glass and an appetizer for an hour. It seems that someone read my "Open Letter to Danny Brown" (even if it wasn't Danny Brown) and I can't say I'm displeased with the reply.

Elbie and I tried out Jack & Nellie's this past weekend. The few times that I'd walked past since they opened, Jack & Nellie's was packed, so I was worried that we wouldn't get a table. On Sunday, we arrived around 830ish and we were seated right away. About three-quarters full. As a side thought, it might be a good idea for Jack & Nellie's to subscribe to OpenTable. Anyway, we sat down, chose a bottle of malbec, began absorbing the new surroundings, and began going through the menu. 

Jack & Nellie's wine list is relatively small, but it's varied and well priced. Our malbec was in the mid $30s. They also have the best beer list in the neighborhood with microbrews and imports dominating the menu. Inside, it's dark. Dark woods, dim lights, high ceilings. Both romantic and masculine, it feels exactly the way I would want a wine bar to feel. My one complaint, and it's a significant one, is that the tables are laid out poorly. Rather than seat everyone perpendicular to the wall, guests are seated parallel to it. The result is that you can feel like you're sharing a table (and a conversation) with the people next to you.

Jack & Nellie's has a small plates menu and we ordered four items. Additionally, there's a selection of cheeses and a charcuterie plate (which I wanted to get but it was just too much food). We started out with the Grilled Brie & Prosciutto Sandwich with Fig Jam. Elbie wasn't a fan of it, finding it too greasy and too salty. I thought it was flat out fantastic. I love brie; I love prosciutto; I love foccaccia. Throw it all together and make it a grilled cheese. How can that not be great? At least, that's what I think. Then the Lamb Meatballs with Quinoa & Black Olives came. This time, we agreed that these were perfect.

The slider plate came next. You get three and we decided to get one of each offered. The Grilled Angus Beef with Bleu Cheese was pretty good, though the bleu cheese was a little overpowering. Elbie though that the bun was a bit dry. The weakest was the Braised Beef Short Rib with Caramelized Onions which was good, but how can barbecue beef not be good? It was mostly just too sweet and the least interesting. The best by far was the Fried Oyster with Peppered Slaw and Pickles. Fried, but light and tangy. The Macaroni & Cheese with Chorizo came last and was recommended by the staff as something that other diners have liked the most. But Elbie and I weren't blown away. The chorizo, basically a sausage that tastes like thick smoked bacon, made it a little too salty, but then without the bacon, it just seemed generic.

The small complaints aside (which I hope are viewed as constructive criticism instead of just my being a prick), I really really liked Jack & Nellie's. They hit the nail on the head when it comes to just about everything I wanted in a wine bar. A tweaked layout and a tweaked menu would define perfection for me. In the meantime, I'll return, expand my sampling of the menu, and be grateful that no longer to I have to schlep across the Gardens to get a decent glass of wine. Or maybe I'll get a beer. Hmm... Should I just become a regular so I don't have to choose?

Four small plates and a bottle of wine came to $92 with tax and tip.


Susan said...

Glad that you're a fan Jon ... I was hoping that would be the case!

We did a cheese plate (cheese from Murray's and bread from Boulangerie!) and small plates of the lamb meatballs (loved them!), sliders (I only had the angus beef/blue cheese, which I enjoyed) and mushroom/Manchego quesadilla (good, but the mushrooms over-powered the Manchego).

I was hoping to get over there Sunday and now very sorry that I didn't. How exciting would it be to be dining in the same restaurant as you, at the same time!! :)

Agreed that it's nice to have a grown-up wine bar w/o having to walk over to DBs. Jack & Nellie's is a GREAT addition to the neighborhood in this gals opinion.

JackNellies said...

Thanks for the review!

Laura Lutz said...

I'll be back in my old stomping ground for dinner next week - I'm adding Jack and Nellie's to the top of my list!!!!

Jon Parker said...

Susan, haha! And I agree. It's nice to have something a bit more upscale than the norm finally.

Jack & Nellie's, I had a really good time. Glad you commented! And I hope you didn't think my criticism was anything other than well intentioned.

Laura, get back and try them. I'm pretty sure that you'll like it!

Nancy N said...

There was a nice write-up of Jack & Nellie's in the Wall Street Journal (

Looking forward to trying it out

Anonymous said...

How can you begin to have a blog and opinion on other's people food if you don't even know what it is! Chorizo is bacon??? Are you serious? Do your research before you post something. Chorizo is a type of pork sausage.

Based on not even knowing that fairly common (and delicious) ingredient this "review" is completely untrustworthy.

Jon Parker said...

How come the biggest assholes on the internet get agitated over small petty things like bacon hot dogs, while simultaneously never have balls big enough to post as anything other than "Anonymous"?

But because I see how mad you are, I added "tastes like." Don't say I never gave you nothing.

Laura Lutz said...

"Don't say I never gave you nothing." Hee hee.

So I hiked aaaaaaaall the way from my digs in Manhattan*, and it was worth it. The wine selection was the best I've encountered in FH (2nd to Danny Brown's, of course), the cheese selection was excellent, and the food was actually swoon-worthy. FINALLY.

Naturally, it'd happen after I moved.

* Yes, being intentionally whiny. Isn't that what Manhattanites are supposed to be like?

Susan said...

Mr. Parker - faux pas aside, I find you a more than trust-worthy source on the Forest Hills dining scene ;)

Moving on ...

I'm excited about Keuka Kafe (a wine bar that will be taking over the space at 112-04 Queens Blvd). To quote the owner, "... we will be having a "real" Continental Breakfast. Plates of soft and semi soft cheese with croissants, brioches and pull-aparts, breakfast meats & cheeses (Jambon, Mortadella & Brie), and assortment of jellies and jams with baguettes & ficelles. This may transform into a brunch of eggs & french toast, who knows..."

I'm certain that there will be an onslaught of folks in the neighborhood whining that "wine bars are taking over", but they sure beat the heck out of Nail Salons, banks and 99 cent stores!

I would also love to see Queens Blvd under-go a re-gentrification. If we're lucky, someone will re-open the Abbey :)

Jon Parker said...

Laura, hey. I'm a Manhattanite (well, I was) and I'm not whiny. I'm opinionated! But I'm glad you trekked all the way back. I'm giving you homework. Tell your new Manhattan buddies to start traveling over rivers. It'll be an uphill battle, but I know you're up to the challenge.

Susan, I'm right there with you.

Lauren @ Life With Desmond said...

Just went to Keuka yesterday (still have not made it to J&N's) and had a great experience. Really nice people, really good cheese, delicious wine. Brunch menu is a real continental breakfast for sure. Everything on the brunch menu and regular menu sounded really good.