Eating in Norwalk is always an adventure for me. Whenever I am searching for a restaurant in the area, I always have to give them a call to find out what time they close. There are a bunch that close at 8pm. 8pm? Yes, 8pm. I am by nature a late eater. I’m usually busy during the traditional dinner hours, so eating later than 8pm is normal. MG is still appalled by this fact.
Jeff’s is not only a place that is open late, but they appear to be more restaurant than bar that happens to serve food. The place is well regarded and has a little notoriety with Connecticut residents.
If you enter from the North Main Street entrance, it will look like Jeff’s is take-out only. The options did look wonderful, and from what I saw, they did brisk dine-out business. Walk along the length of the restaurant and you will find the more traditional dining area and a small bar. I think there is seating for around 30 people, so you may have to wait for a few if the joint is crowded.
The complimentary cornbread was nice. I think they topped it with honey to impart a touch of sweetness. It was not the greatest I’ve ever had, nor was it the worst. “Serviceable” would be an accurate description.
For starters, I got a small gumbo ($5.29). It was very tasty. I’m not a gumbo connoisseur, but I would recommend this dish. There was a nice amount of shrimp inside, it was not overloaded with rice, and the broth was rich without tasting over-seasoned. Thumbs up.
The Jalapeno Poppers ($7.99) appear to be the same kind as used at Willy’s. I enjoyed them at Willy’s, I enjoyed them at Jeff’s. This particular offering came with french fries. They sucked. They reminded me of the french fries that come in potato chip bags, but without enough crunch, and without enough salt. Jeff should remove them from the menu immediately. Even when topped with Cajun seasoning (as they were with my sandwich, see below), they were awful. Having them on the menu for the sake of having fries available is just silly. If no effort will be put into making them good, just offer a side of potato chips.
MG got her barbeque standby: brisket. In this case, it is Texas Brisket ($19.99) and comes with choice of two sides. She got the Macaroni and Cheese and the Fried Okra. The brisket is tender and nice. The sauce compliments it well. This would be a solid choice as a platter or sandwich. The mac and cheese was bland as bland could be bland. It didn’t appear to be poorly made, overcooked, or burned, but it lacked any taste. Yuck. The fried okra was alright. I don’t really know what fried okra should taste like. This offering is cut into little squares, battered, and fried. They make for a unique side (at least to me), but they are not very compelling. Perhaps that is just the nature of okra?
I got the Mississippi Catfish Po Boy ($8.99). It comes with cajun fries (which are terrible). The catfish was nothing remarkable. I’ve only had really good catfish once. This was not offensive, but unless you really want a fish sandwich, try something else. The fish had a nice shell and good crunch, but was boring. The bread is fresh and nice. The sauce that is drizzled atop the fish is pretty good, but not remarkable. I can’t really complain about the sandwich, but I’m not cheering for it either.
The biggest gripe I have with Jeff’s is the service. MG said it “sucked”. I would only rank it as “could use improvement”. Judge for yourself:
1. When we entered the main dining area, we were told that only table available was one with the high chairs. The other open tables were reserved. We said, “No problem,” and took the high spot. Halfway through our meal, two more people came in and were told that one table was reserved, but not the other table that was open when MG and I first arrived. Huh?
2. As you can see from the review, we ordered entrees and appetizers. The food took a little while to come out, and that is not a problem. Sometimes, it takes a little while for preparation, and I am fine with that. However, we were brought my gumbo and MG’s brisket first. She was done with her entree by the time my Po Boy and our Jalapeno appetizer arrived. That’s just lousy timing. I don’t know if the blame should fall on the waitress or the kitchen, but that is terrible.
3. MG asked for water and it never arrived. It could just be that the waitress forgot, which can happen to anyone, but added to the other issues, it is hard to overlook.
Despite these issues, the staff was friendly and pleasant, which goes a long way with me. Hopefully, these issues are merely an aberration. Jeff’s is a nice spot, and I would try them again. The ribs seemed to be very popular with other diners. However, if the service is the same as on this visit, they should just shut the dining area and convert to take-out only.
54 N. Main Street
South Norwalk, CT 06854