I'm not one to seek the comfort of a bar after work, or even much on the weekends, but when I do, my friends, I tend to wander over to Jay's Bar & Grill.
Michelle lights up the place with her smile most evenings, Jack’s bangin’ out the burgers, tots and wings in their many-sauced splendor, and Jay Patel is usually there to greet and meet his regulars and the newbies too, with an shy, self-deprecating grin.
The man is well-beloved, that’s for sure; every time I’ve been there I see he’s proved irresistibly huggable to any number of ladies and receives his share of man-hugs (side-to-side shoulder-grab style) even from those who haven’t had a chance to juice up yet.
It’s an easy-going place, not too dark, decent DJs that fire up Fridays and Saturdays, well-priced daily drink specials that won’t squeeze your wallet dry, peaceable Keno and lottery players who will chat you up and actually have something interesting to say, teams of players throwing darts or checking out the balance of the pool tables, and though he’s got 11 big screen TVs of various sizes, they don’t overwhelm you with sports chatter.
Then there’s the food. Oh my lord, yes.
You could say it’s the usual bar food (read burgers & wings), but one of the items on Jay’s To-Do List when he bought the place back in October was: Improve the Recipes!
This was not a spot known for good eats back before he came, but between Jay & Chef Jack, they’ve cooked up some fine improvements.
It’s not just ‘chicken fingers’, it’s “hand-cut, hand-breaded, marinated in buttermilk and seasoned with the special house-blend of herbs and spices,” Jack will proudly tell you, and I can personally attest, they’ll give Spanky’s a run for their money!
Burgers here are never frozen, but fresh made per individual order, hand-formed, 6-ounce wonders, juicy, tasty, laid on a plump, fresh, toasted bun, and nestled in a golden mound of tater tots or fries.
The “Blue Jay” is simply amazing and already has an enthusiastic group of devotees: generously topped with bacon and a slightly melted pile of bleu cheese crumbles, it’s probably the perfect meal for a bar-food fanatic. These are gourmet, man, and you’ll definitely want to try one soon.
Wings here are well-proportioned, come in 11 varieties, and legend says that aficionados will drive down from Atlanta just to satisfy their passion for them. The Sampler is a beauty to the eye as well as the taste buds, so choose your 3 from a list of 8 appetizers with care—Pepperjack cheese cubes, Southwest eggrolls—and of course, those incredible chicken fingers—are local favs.
One of my personal preferences, which goes by the unassuming title of “Chef Salad,” arrives in a huge bowl packed with what looks like at least a pound of sliced turkey and ham (not tiny chunks), plenty of cheese to please, and, unless you’re known for a capacious stomach, needs no accompaniment.
Jay even manages to make the humble Grilled Chicken Breast Sandwich memorable—my hubby’s a red-meat lover but even he puts asides his usual burger for this perfectly seasoned, marinated and grilled delight, always paired with excellent, crisp-on-the-outside, tender-on-the-inside seasoned fries.
The mix of people to be found at Jay’s is also a good thing—not too overloaded with the barely legal, nor crowded with gray foxes either; ethnically diverse, business men, a handful of tattooed vets, and most of them friendly, responsive to a good conversation.
It’s usually hoppin’ from Thursday evening onward, especially after 10 p.m., and the DJs, plus Karaoke on Wednesdays, bring in a fun crowd as well.
Michelle is a skilled and attentive bartender who has a way with the goods; she’ll be happy to point out that she can make around 300 shot combos, each one tailored to the specific mood or taste of the customer—just tell her what you’re yearning for—and there are 6 drafts and 49 bottled varieties to choose from.
She’s been with Jay since he bought the place so she’s pretty familiar with the regulars and has a good memory for customer preferences (“Jack n’ soda with 3 limes, please!).
Nothin’ sleazy or uneasy here, just a neat, clean bar with a pleasant atmosphere, friendly people, damn good food, and hey, the kitchen’s open until 2 a.m. so nobody has to go hungry after 10 or 11, like in other joints.