Jackson’s, just across from the Plaza Ferdinand
A few months back there was a lot of buzz about the merger of Jackson’s – one of Pensacola’s venerable steakhouses – with the Great Southern Restaurant Group, which owns and operates the Fish House and the Atlas Oyster House. I finally got the chance to eat at Jackson’s post merger and, not that I expected anything less, but I’m happy to report that the food was terrific.
I sampled what seemed a little of everything the restaurant could throw at me – baked oysters with hot peppered collards and andouille cornbread crust, shrimp and chorizo with spinach and baked cheddar grits, duck breast with candied pecans and dried cherry reduction, and a cowboy ribeye that made me want to re-conquer the West.
Equal to the food, however, was the company. I sat at the bar with Jackson’s chef and co-owner Irv Miller and Jim Shirley, Fish House’s executive chef and co-owner. Pardon the name-dropping, but a diner couldn’t ask for more expert culinary guides. Were there not so much food in front of me, I could’ve and would’ve taken better notes. The two chefs have nearly encyclopedic knowledge of food, wine, and local culture, and both never seem to sit still for very long. Irv has hosted a cooking show on the local PBS station and authored three cookbooks. Jim writes a regular column in the Pensacola News Journal, hosts two television shows, and is part owner of the Great Southern Café in Seaside. (I’m tired just from writing all this down.)
The story doesn’t end there. Irv is adding a few new items to his menus, and look for a story on Jim in an upcoming issue of the Florida Living section of Southern Living.