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Lunch or dinner at The Woodlands a great experience

Executive Dining

When I first returned to Jackson back when, this location housed a Steak & Egg that at the time was one of the few all-night places to find something to eat in the Capital City. It then was changed to a rather short-lived sandwich place. Following that, with much ado about renovations and additions, it became Jubilee’s. Today, after more renovations and changes it is the home of The Woodlands.

The lunch menu at The Woodlands includes an array of salads, sandwiches, a couple of pasta selections and three or more main-dish courses, one of the which is always a vegetable plate. These dishes are priced from $5.95 to $12.95 with two (the veggie plate and the catch-of-the-day) listed at market price.

We first tried the Angus burger ($6.95). It was ordered medium and served medium-well to well. Consequently, it was somewhat dried out, albeit good tasting. A better and tastier choice was the char-grilled portabello with provolone ($7.95). Other selections are a grilled vegetable sandwich, flank steak sandwich, Margarita chicken salad sandwich.

The char-grilled jumbo shrimp salad ($11.95) was served over a bed of mixed greens and sprinkled with an orange flavored balsamic vinaigrette. It is both healthful and delightfully delicious.

The crawfish and crabmeat Diane ($12.95) provided a heavier, but equally tasty, meal. It was served in a white wine sauce over angel hair.

Evenings at The Woodlands provided a pleasant change of pace. We suggest that you begin with an appetizer. Ours was the Firecracker Shrimp ($9.95).

The jumbo shrimp were contained in a Tabasco and herb cream sauce and served with toast points. An excellent beginning. The duck and andouille gumbo ($3.95/$5.95) was also excellent. Other appetizers are grilled eggplant, crabmeat-stuffed mushrooms, crawfish chimichanga, DuBard duck breast (strips of duck breast wrapped around jalapeno peppers and served with Tabasco cream sauce.) We did not try this one but it sounds so good that we have it on our list for a future visit.

Entrees are on the pricey end of the spectrum, ranging from $12.95 for an herb-seared chicken breast to $25.95 for a char-grilled free-range elk tenderloin. The Woodlands filet, char-grilled prime Angus filet and fresh catch-of-the-day are listed at market price.

Of the entrees, our favorite was the char-grilled doublecut pork chop ($16.95). Ours was ordered and served medium-rare. It was tender, tasty and moist. The texture was good and the mild taste of “that other meat” was simply perfect as far was we were concerned.

My dining partner feasted on the crawfish and crabmeat Diane ($12.95). This south Louisiana spicy Creole concoction featured lots of tasty crawfish tails and fragments of lump crabmeat sauteed with mushrooms and scallions in a white wine sauce and served atop angel hair pasta. The pasta was marginally overcooked (extremely difficult not to do with angel hair), but wasn’t to the mush stage. Overall the dish was excellent. The rather benign, light-tasting crab meat was delightfully balanced with the earthy heartiness of the crawfish tails while the spicy sauce completed the dish nicely.

On another visit, we tried the pasta primavera ($9.95) and the Dijon-marinated New Zealand Rack of Lamb ($23.95). The medium-rare rack of lamb was rather more chewy than we would have liked, however the taste was excellent. The pasta featured an admixture of sauteed onion, red, yellow and green peppers in an Alfredo sauce served over tri-colored tortellini. We opted for the addition of shrimp ($5.95 extra), but chicken was also a choice ($2.95 extra). We were pleased with this dish. The Woodlands is one of the few places where one can still find seafood Alfredo these days. Most places only offer plain or chicken.

Other entrees include roasted DuBard quail, hickory-smoked Muscovey duck, char-grilled veal porterhouse, Woodlands’ filet, prime Angus filet, catch-of-the-day and Firecracker shrimp.

Incidentally, neither of our waiters could tell us exactly what a “prime Angus filet” was supposed to be. It should be either a “USDA Prime” or a “Certified Black Angus” filet. Insofar as we have been able to ascertain from our contact at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, there is no such grade as “prime Angus”. But then, it may fall under the heading of “restaurant ballyhoo!”

Entrees are served with a choice of garden or Caesar salad. Dressings are sun-dried tomato vinaigrette, balsamic vinaigrette, homemade ranch, Tabasco blue cheese and homemade Caesar. Our choices were the Tabasco blue cheese and the homemade ranch, both of which are incisively piquant.

Full bar service is available along with a modest wine list.

Service has been generally well above average at The Woodlands. Our waiters have been courteous, relatively knowledgeable about the menu (although one had to read the daily specials off notes on his check pad) and, for the most part, professional in their demeanor.

The Woodlands Restaurant & Bar is located at 565 Taylor Street in Jackson. Hours are from 11 a.m. until 10 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and from noon until 5 p.m. on Sunday. Closed Monday. American Express, Mastercard, Visa and Discover cards accepted. Reservations accepted. Limited handicap accessibility. Full bar service. Telephone: (601) 713-1004.

Bill Patrick’s column appears regularly in the Mississippi Business Journal. He has written extensively about restaurants for more than a dozen years and has served in the kitchen, dining room, behind the bar and as a food service inspector. The views expressed in this column do not necessarily represent those held by the MBJ, its staff or advertisers. Comment is welcome at mbj@msbusiness.com. Bill Patrick appears every Thursday at 5:35 p.m. on “WJNT This Afternoon” at 1180 AM in Jackson.


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