Big Jones offers New Orleans, southern cuisine

Our food reporter suggests a taste of the south, where classic cocktails co-exist with hearty, southern comfort classics.

There is much more to the southern traditions of the table than just fried chicken and gumbo. Art Smith proved it last year at his "Table 52" in the Gold Coast. Now in Andersonville, there's another newcomer recreating flavors from the Louisiana Gulf Coast all the way up to low country, near the Carolinas.

With hearty dishes like braised pork hocks and gumbo, you know you're in the South. But at Big Jones - an Andersonville newcomer - the menu highlights dishes from all over the region.

"When Hurricane Katrina happened, in addition to my interest which had developed in low country cuisine, I became very interested in about what was going to happen to the culinary heritage of New Orleans," said Paul Fehribach, Big Jones.

Part of his mission is to offer barbequed shrimp; this Creole-style dish is served with a few slices of Sally Lunn bread for dipping. The crab salad and deviled egg plate is pure Low Country - that crab is all lumb blue crab - with a bit of chow-chow - a mixed vegetable and pickle relish, plus some johnny cakes. Meanwhile, pulled pork grit cakes have an almost Carolina accent to them, served with slaw.

"In New Orleans you tend to have rice. Rice grows very well in New Orleans. In South Carolina you'll see rice, but you tend to see more grits," said Fehribach.

A fried green tomato BLT is stacked with Niman Ranch applewood bacon and a creamy remoulade. Their gumbo ya-ya contains a pretty dark roux, jammed with chicken, andouille and gator sausage, while those braised pork hocks rest in a pool of pinto beans and pickled chayote squash with popcorn rice.

Their Southern brunch is heavy on the eggs, but when you consider their Eggs New Orleans start with lump crab cakes on fresh popovers with poached eggs, bearnaise sauce and potatoes, that Bloody Mary will come in handy.

Same goes for the shrimp and grits. A Low Country dish to be sure, nestled in wild mushroom and tasso ham gravy with organic grits.

Part of Southern culture is to imbibe occasionally, and Big Jones goes to great lengths to get it right. From a standard gin fizz to a classic cocktail like the sazerac, no detail has been overlooked.

"We wanted to have a drink menu that was interesting, but that also really paid tribute to not just New Orleans and the South in general, but kind of going back to the days when everything was real," said Fehribach.

You can also count on a few daily specials. Right now it's softshell crab season, so they're obviously showing up frequently. Father's Day brunch will be busy, as will dinner, but they do take reservations.

Big Jones
5347 N. Clark St.
9 a.m. - 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday brunch, also open for dinner

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