Restaurant Guide 2013: St. Jack

2039 SE Clinton St., 360-1281,

[GALLIC GLORY] St. Jack is resolutely anti-fad. Rather than fancying itself some imaginary 19th-century hunting lodge, this Clinton Street spot transports diners to a truly cozy French bouchon, complete with penny-round tiles, simple bentwood bistro chairs and giant, dripping candles that a good friend has likened to furry ghosts. The no-holds-barred Lyonnaise fare brings together the delicate and the indulgent in buttery, trance-inducing harmony. Take, for example, a summer appetizer of scallops. Rather than lightly searing them and hanging up his toque, chef Aaron Barnett ladles them with a creamy, mornay- and cognac-spiked sauce of leeks and Gruyere. More surprising is that it works. The gentle scallops somehow hold up against the decadent, intense sauce. St. Jack does meat exceptionally well—everything from fried tripe to lamb shoulder—but it also shines in dishes that marry la terre et la mer. A Mediterranean-influenced dish of melt-in-your-mouth gnocchi with crayfish and summer vegetables channels the earth with its deeply savory, tarragon-spiced sauce, while a slab of wild King salmon is served with a pretty green-herb dressing that sings with all the sprightly freshness of a meadow. New bar manager John Salas has mixed up the cocktail menu—the pisco punch is particularly bright and citric—while pastry chef Alissa Rozos' made-to-order, lemon-kissed, powdered-sugar-dusted madeleines remain a must. 

Ideal meal: Steak tartare, clams in vermouth cream sauce, pommes frites, madeleines.

Best deal: A burger and a house cocktail at happy hour (4-5 pm daily).

Pro tip: Stop by Patisserie St. Jack for delightful croissants, brioche, canelés, eclairs. Order a cafe au lait and linger.

4-9:30 pm Sunday-Thursday, 4-10:30 pm Friday-Saturday. $$-$$$. Patisserie St. Jack open 8 am-3 pm daily. $.


WWeek 2015

Willamette Week’s reporting has concrete impacts that change laws, force action from civic leaders, and drive compromised politicians from public office. Support WW's journalism today.