Wine Dine and Play: Jacks London Grill

Jacks London Grill

London’s Calling
St. Petersburg, Florida USA
Dined in January 2016

By Sean Overpeck (CFE)



Pub Grub as the term is so fondly known in the United Kingdom is becoming very popular in the United States, especially in Central Florida. When you visit England to see the sights or on business, yes they have wonderful higher end restaurants like The Ivy, Restaurant Gordon Ramsey, Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat duck, or Jamie Oliver’s Barbecoa, but the majority of the English go to their local pub to enjoy some good home cooking, a pint, and watch the football (soccer) games. In St. Petersburg there are several such little English Style pubs serving up the grub, and one that my fiancé and I loved was Jack's London Grill, where we enjoyed a wonderful lunch. 



Scroll down to read the main review, accolades and wine tasting notes

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Executive Chef:
Peter Leonavicius



From the restaurants home page:
At Jack’s London Grill we prepare all our food fresh daily, with the finest ingredients hand picked daily by our Master Chef Peter Leonavicius.


Main review:

My fiancé and I went to Jack’s London Grill as we had both just recently moved to the area and were trying out all kinds of different restaurants. We are both food lovers enjoying cuisine from all around the world and not afraid to try anything.  I was home on leave from working overseas as executive chef feeding over a thousand per meal, and was looking forward to eating food that I did not either directly prepare or oversea. My fiancé is also into food nutrition and well being,  so we both complement each others palettes when we go out to eat. 

Jack’s London Grill has a feel of the typical English Pub. For those who have never been across the pond then the best way to describe it is a cozy and clean atmosphere catered to the locals that want to enjoy a quite meal and watch a sporting event on tv. That is until after work hours then like most pubs and bars it gets louder with more people and more excitement to the sport games. Jack’s London even has a Tuesday night Trivia like most regular bars have as well. Pubs in England range the same as basic bars here in the United States all the way up very nice restaurant style bars with professional service staff. 

We sat at the bar to have our lunch, just after the pub opened. Behind the bar where wine and other items were stored, we saw little trinkets resembling the queen and other items that gave the pub a nice British feel to it, unlike the generic crap you see at Irish pubs claiming to be the real thing, when I’ve been to Dublin, and they are nowhere near the real deal. 


We looked over the menu after ordering a few drinks to start, with my fiancé having a Rosé from Domaine Roquesante Côtes de Provence (Scroll down below the main review to see wine tasting notes) and an English beer for me called the Old Speckled Hen. (A great website worth checking out by the way.) Other English and Irish beer selections on their menu include Boddingtons, Hobgoblin, Hoegaarden, Saison Du Pont, Smithwicks, and a Bavarian Weihenstephan. Their American crafts included a few varieties from the Jacksonville Bold City Brewery such as their IPA, and Smuttynose. They do not serve any liquors at Jack’s London. 

I had been to a few English pubs over the years in different states, and do have to say that for Jack’s London, they had one of the best menus for an English pub outside of the UK. Their menu is broken down by the following: 

  • Pub Bites
  • Windsor Castle Salads
  • Sandwiches
  • Pies and More
  • Sides
  • Desserts

They also offer catering with a separate menu, a happy hour menu noon to 6:30, nightly specials and they are a member of Food Now where you can order online and have it delivered to you. We both started with the Scottish eggs from the Pub Bites, which is a hard boiled egg, peeled then covered in sausage meat and deep fried to a golden brown, and finished in the oven to reach proper cooking temperature.

Other items on their Pub Bites list include chicken sliders, British crisps, sausage rolls, and a few others. We both bypassed the sandwich section which included items like the grilled pub burger, chicken club and the banger sausage butty which is a grilled sausage in a bun with normal fixings and a Dijon mustard mayonnaise blend. We both ordered from the Pies and more Section with my fiancé having one of her favorites, the fish and chips, a white flaky fish dipped in a pale ale batter before frying to perfection. If you are vegetarian, vegan, or have an allergy, just talk with the chef, and he will prepare something for you.


I was in a toss up with what I wanted for lunch and had narrowed it down to either the shepherds pie or the steak and ale pie. Last time I had a steak and ale pie was when I was in London in 2012. I had made it several times throughout the years, but nothing is like having it served to you pub style. I ended up choosing the shepherd’s pie which is more of an Irish dish, but in this recipe it included some beef under that large lump of baked rosemary infused mashed potatoes, making the dish a combination of Irish and English with that cottage pie addition. 

Other items on their entree list include bangers and mash, fisherman's pie, and chicken pub curry. I will over time be returning to try all of these different items as the shepherd’s pie was just outstanding. My fiancé also loved her fish and chips. We always share when we go out to eat, so after having a taste of that crispy, flaky fish, I also was in heaven. Each dish comes with a choice of a side, and there are normal selections from fresh market vegetables, coleslaw, chips (french fries), jasmine rice and so on. On their happy hour menu they do have an addition that I didn’t see on the regular lunch menu, which was a Coronation Chicken Sandwich. I hadn’t seen it in sandwich form before, but as a salad, it is my favorite British salad, mixed with curry, mayonnaise, mangos, coriander, apricot jam, almonds, and lemon juice served over a bed of lettuce. The salad dates back to 1952 for Queen Elizabeth’s Coronation. 

An incredible meal, and if I could have had some Wexford Mushrooms to go on the side with the shepherd’s pie, or some bubble and squeak, then you would have had to roll me out of there, because I would have been so content, I would have never left. While their we saw an advertisement for an upcoming Scottish event where the chef was going to prepare some Haggis. Shame I was not in town for that, otherwise I would have been there. My only recommendation to the menu is that under the sandwich section if the Chef adds a Stilton Burger, then I will be using that food order system on a weekly basis. 

A chat with the Chef:

Chef Peter Leonavicius is originally from Surrey which is an area south of London but north and west of Hastings, and Brighton. He was trained at Redhill Technical College in Surrey, been an independent Restaurant owner since 2000. Previously he was an Executive Chef for Sodexo at the British Medical association before going solo. 

His culinary goal, is “to continue honing the core menu to provide totally house made products at an affordable price, stretching the boundaries to offer items often associated with fine dining at a fraction of the menu price.” And to “Offer a friendly pub atmosphere for the entire family.”
When I asked what he would like to hone in on or improve upon, he said everything.

When asked to give a comparison to other restaurants in the area, what makes Jack’s London stand out or different from the other bar / restaurants, and that is “best answered by the reviews on Trip advisor and yelp.” If you look on those sites, then yes, the accolades run far and wide.

He has many great stories to tell about Jack London’s, “But in general the over abundance of forthright giving from our gusts. Most of the decoration is from guests who have brought items in....Very generous and turns the entire place into a familiar pub in the true sense. It has taken on an organic growth completely out of my hands. We even have a recently retired guest , Carroll who notice some empty plant pots by the dumpster and has taken to growing fresh herbs for us, very humbling.” 

According the National Restaurant Association, when they conducted a survey on the hottest food trends for 2016, nearly 1,600 professional chefs and members of the American Culinary Federation (ACF) came up with twenty trends to expect when you dine out. Among them would be authentic ethnic cuisine and condiments, which Jack’s London qualifies, new cuts of meat, locally grown produce, and hyper-local sourcing to name a few. When I asked Chef Peter about this and his sourcing or use of organics he says that he “Often tries but need better suppliers and contacts for competitive pricing.”

The patio at Jack London’s is open to smokers, and the restaurant is dog friendly. If you are a veteran, active military, police, or firefighter, then the chef offers you a 15% off the entire menu, and If someone wishes to buy out the restaurant for a party then he will also cater to that request.


Wine Tasting Notes:

Wine & Grape:
Nose (Bouquet):
Palette Experience:
Domaine Roquesante Côtes de Provence Rosé

Winemaker:  
This rose is a light pink salmon color with pronounced rose hints. Presenting a powerful nose of red fruit aromas and freshly cut hay. 

My Tasting:  
Hints of strawberry and peach
Winemaker:
Ample flavors on the palate, notes of mineral and spice. Orange peel accents mark the rich finish

My Tasting: 
Well Balanced, very lite, with notes of watermelon and grapefruit.


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Dessert:
We were both completely fool and could not get dessert, however they had a few options that looked really good to include classic British bread pudding which based on the description from the menu is a sticky toffee pudding. They also had a chocolate mousse, and apple crumble pie and cream. Next time I will partake to try the desserts. 

So, with the meal complete, and our culinary appetites fulfilled, lets see how Jack London’s rates overall shall we….

5 stars
 is Extraordinary
4 Stars
 is Outstanding
3 Stars
Exceeded Expectations
2 Stars
is Above the Average
1 Star
is an Average Dining Experience
No Star Rating
The Restaurant is Basic, Poor, or Appalling




Overall Star rating by Wine, Dine, & Play:
3 of 5
Ambiance:
5  of 10
Quality of the Food:
7  of 10
Plate Presentation:
5  of 10
Customer Service:
7  of 10
Wow Factor:
4  of 10
Wine Selection:
 (See the full list under the review basics section below)
2 of 10



Rating Breakdown And Analysis:


Professional Restaurant reviewers like the New York Times, Zagat, Chowhound, Gayot, or others base their reviews on either a single experience, and give in their opinion a specific rating to that restaurant. While some return a few times to get a better scope, and provide a fare well rounded review. These reviews and accolades tell the whole story and inform the diner of what to expect. Now social media from Facebook, Yelp and Trip Advisor have started to replace the traditional media, and a large majority of diners will look at these social ratings and write-ups and judge the restaurant on them versus the use of review sites like this one or the others I mentioned above. Social media is now the new make or brake to a Restaurant. Instead of being skeptical to the social review, people will see that others have given low ratings, and they will likely bypass and go to a neighboring restaurant. Whether it is here on Wine, Dine, and Play, or Zomato, the one thing we do is give an unbiased opinion and base our write-ups on what we experienced, giving you the most information we can. The ratings I give on Wine, Dine, and Play are based on the overall experience, so use this review as another source of information to help make your decision. From the tasting of the Chef’s specials to the lists of wines, prices, customer service, the property, setup, flow, and cleanliness; are just a few of the items I look at when giving a rating for a review. Sometimes I visit a place once, or many times, and I base it on the facts, versus a user on social media who writes a bad review because he had a bad day, or has a personnel dislike to an employee. I am one of many thousands of reviewers on this Earth, and my main job is to inform you the diner. I do this for fun as it is something I truly enjoy. You may end up having a completely opposite experience then the ones I write about, but in the end it is all in the eye of the beholder. I’m just giving you more information then what you see or here on social media.



Here on Wine, Dine, and Play, I have an overall star rating scale of six levels with the lowest being a poor or appalling experience with zero stars, up to an extraordinary experience rated at five stars. From there I brake down the individual experiences such as wine, plate presentation, ambiance, wow factor, and food quality on a scale from zero to ten, with ten being the best.  The overall zero to five star rating takes all the individual experiences such as into account, and combines them to give my final rating score. In the next paragraph, I brake down how and why I come to the conclusion of the rating numbers listed in the review chart above.

I have been to Jack’s London once, but can tell you that I do intend on returning several more times to try everything on chef Peter’s menu.

I rate ambiance on several factors from the most important being cleanliness of the dining room and restrooms, to organization and flow. I look at the atmosphere, character, the tones, artwork, and the design styles to see if they match the themes of the food. During the daylight hours natural lighting versus electric is also a strong enhancer of enjoying a meal, and of course the styles of furniture, or if it is inviting and comfortable. I gave Jack’s London a rating of 5 out of 10, as the atmosphere inside was that of a cozy pub, but not to the level of finer dining.

The quality rating I base by an essential or distinctive characteristics that the food offers, or if I see that it is of a high grade, superiority, or excellence. Also important is the taste. Did the chef pair or match distinctive ingredients together, and did he send my palette on an adventure? At a rating of 7 out of 10, it was an adventure indeed. Being that my mother was english and stepmother is also from the UK, eating this food took me back to the meals I had growing up. The quality was very good, and well prepared.

The plate presentation is also at the midway point. I base this rating on the art of how the food is but together and displayed as it is brought to the table. Does it look unique, or have interesting garnishments, or built right at the table? Does it make you look twice and go “wow”? All of these attributes help add to the rating.

Customer service can make or break a restaurant. You can have the best quality of foods, plate presentations that put Escoffier to shame, the most beautiful of ambiance, and a fantastic wine or bar list. However if you have a service staff that is not attentive to the needs of the guest, or has an unclean uniform, smells like a cigarette after returning from a break, does not act professionally, or lacks knowledge on the menu, food, and restaurant then you have a major problem. On the other hand a great server can bring a customer back over and over again even if the food is mediocre. People go to restaurants for the show of food thinking they are experts because they watched a reality tv show on the Food Network, but what needs to be understood is that as amazing as a kitchen staff and Chef’s may be, the front of house is just as great. I give this rating a 7 out of 10, since we sat at the bar, the bar tender served us, and he was very friendly, professional, and knowledgable of the menu.

The “wow” factor as I like to call it is a quality or feature that is extremely impressive, or it can be something that is seen or done that is funky, surprising, or pleasing. It is something that just makes me go “wow”. This rating is also the hardest to get high marks for. The wow factor is a combination of what ambiance, quality, plate presentation, customer service, and wine or mixology. I gave them a rating of 4 out of 10 on the “wow” factor as it is the hardest rating to get. The Scottish egg was 

The wine selection can vary from restaurant to restaurant, and I base the ratings not just on the quality of the wines offered but also the selections. Wine is grown everywhere around the world these days and the demand for it has increased ten fold. Distributors in every major city whether they work for a large named company like Empire or a small boutique company can provide services to any restaurant if that restaurant wants it. Some restaurants will choose to have very basic wines and that to me will lower a rating faster than a plane nose diving. If they make an effort to have even a small selection with variety such as a wines from Napa California, Willamette Oregon, Bordeaux France, Stellenbosch South Africa, the Yarra Valley near Melbourne Australia, or the Piemonte in Italy, to name a few, then that rating will shoot up higher on my review list. Jack’s London wine selection consisted of three countries, but since they are a pub, a major wine list is not necessary so the rating I gave of 2 out of 10 is not a major negative to the overall rating that is shown in the next paragraph.


Finally the overall star rating from Wine, Dine, and Play that I give to Jack’s London is a 3 out of 5, meaning that it exceeded my expectations, and my expectations are set at a high standard compared to others. I came to this conclusion based on all the other factors and how they rated.
Pub grub as I mentioned in the opening paragraph to this review is a classic English comfort food. The funny thing is, based on the cuisine from the Isles, you can enjoy a pub dish at a pub like Jack’s London, or at a five star super fine dining restaurant. For example on the menu is a fisherman’s pie, very classic pub food, yet when I dined at Wheeler’s of ST. James by Marco Pierre White, in Dubai UAE, in 2013 I had a fish pie as part of the main course, and it really didn’t taste any different, but it did cost five times as much. Also in Dubai was Wellington’s Lounge at the Royal Ascot Hotel that had a pub feel, but I would choose Jack’s London over Wellington’s any day of the week.


Other St. Petersburg reviews on Wine, Dine, and Play:
Fresco’s waterfront Bistro in St. Petersburg, Florida
The Tap Room at the Hollander Hotel
Z Grill
Brick and Mortar
Bonefish Grill
Cassis American Brasserie
Parkshore Grill
The Avenue




Food Prices 
(excluding, alcohol, taxes & gratuity)
$£€¥ -                Under 50.00 
$£€¥ x 2 -          51.00- 99.00 
$£€¥ x 3 -          Over 100.00 
$£€¥ x 4 -          Over 200.00 
$£€¥ x 5 -          Over 400.00 

**Currencies chosen reflect the world’s major travelers and restaurant connoisseur’s**
My food bill:
Currency:
Price chart:
$28.00
United States Dollar (USD)
$
£19.00
Great Britain Pound Sterling (GBP)
£
€25.00
European Union (EUR)
$36.00
Canadian Dollar (CAN)
$
$38.00
Australian Dollar (AUS)
$
¥182.00
Chinese Yuan (CNY)  
¥¥¥




Review basics: 
Wine selections by region:



2 of 10

Old world: 
  1. FranceCôtes de Provence
  1. Italy:
New World: 
  1. California:

Corkage fee’s:
Fee $10.00 per bottle
Restaurant style:
Casual
Reservations:
Not Required
Walk-Ins:
Accepted
Dress code:
Casual Attire
Child policy:


The Restaurants reviewed on this site may have a child’s menu or cater to them; however for full enjoyment of food and wine, it is recommended for children not to be in attendance, unless they have been trained in proper etiquette
Hire a Babysitter. 
Cuisine style:
Seafood, English, Vegetarian
Experiences:
Great bar, Rustic, Hole-in-the-wall, and a Neighborhood gem.
Payments:
Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express
Parking:
Public lot,
Wifi
The restaurants reviewed on this site may have Wi-Fi, but do not require you to go online, because the excitement of the food and wine alone will keep you too entertained instead of checking your social media and emails.
Noise level:
Low
Smoking:
Nonsmoking restaurant, but a smoking patio
Patio:
Yes

Restaurant address:
1050 62nd Ave North
St. Petersburg, Florida
33702

GPS Coordinates: 
27.828113
-82.649202

Contact Information: 

Maître d, Reservations:
+1 (727) 289 7170
Restaurant Website:
Serving Hours:
Eastern Standard Time (GMT - 5:00)

Daily: 11:00 am - 10:00 pm
Email:

Social Media 
Accolades:

Facebook Link                




Reviewed by:
Sean Overpeck (CFE)
Picture below was taken in Herat, Afghanistan in 2013




About Sean:

I am based out of St. Petersburg, Florida working in the food service industry for the past twenty years, and am currently with the American Embassy as the Executive Chef in Basra, Iraq. Formally I have worked with groups contracting in Afghanistan, Dubai, and Antarctica, also working in restaurants in and around Atlanta prior to the wars. I have also owned a catering company and served proudly in the United States Army Food Service Program. The idea for the Wine, Dine, and Play started in late 2012 after a trip to Jordan, when I was asked by friends to write down the experiences from a few Jordanian restaurants, plus the wine from the region that I tasted, and locations of interest such as Petra, and the culture. Since that time, over 200 articles have been written on restaurants, including fifteen from the worlds top 100 lists of San Pellegrino and the Elite Travelers Guide; exotic world locations such as Dubai, Petra, Victoria Falls, and South African Safari’s; food recipes & Grand Food Dictionaries; country cuisines such as Afghan and Peruvian; and of course wine from vineyards in California, Oregon, the Carolina’s, South Africa, New Zealand, and Australia


Who is John Galt?




“Culinary perfection consists not in doing extraordinary things, 
But in doing ordinary things extraordinarily well.”
-Angelique Arnauld (1591-1661)



TTFN
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