In an age of a renewed focus on American comfort food, Jacob’s Pickles has made a name for itself as a homey “den of decadence” by featuring a menu full of Southern comfort favorites done right. Anybody who’s been to the cozy, rustic Upper West Side spot knows that despite the name, there’s more to Jacob’s than just pickles. Since opening Jacob’s Pickles in 2011, Queens native Jacob Hadjigeorgis has cultivated dishes that embrace all the best of regional southern cuisine, and a recent announcement of a new executive chef promises more of the same.
Chef Robbie Cohen brings a passion for comfort food and a formidable background to the table. As the son of a restaurateur and a veteran of regional American restaurants like City Crab and Seafood and McCormick and Schmick’s, Cohen has the experience to back up his love of “Made-in America” food and drink, which he and Hadjigeorgis share.
The current menu is already exciting. Beyond the pickles (which include yummy and innovative brined treats like Sour Green Tomatoes and Dilly Green Beans alongside classics like Kosher Dills and Hot Sours), Jacob’s offers a whole range of kickass American food that send comfort diners directly to cloud nine. From their fresh biscuits and sausages to their home cook mains (we suggest the Shrimp and Bacon Grits and the Chicken and Pancakes), their kitchen’s got it going on, and we only expect it to get better with Cohen’s collaborative touches. We’d also be remiss if we didn’t mention the extensive, regionally focused drink program, which features expertly crafted cocktails and an impressive beer list, as lemonade, root beer, and pop on tap.
Joonbug had the lucky chance to sit down with Robbie and ask a few burning questions regarding this new endeavor, and we are excited to share his answers with you!
What’s your inspiration when it comes to your culinary palate/style?
The current season is what inspires me. I enjoy cooking what is best available at the current time of the season from produce to seafood.
How did you and Jacob meet?
Jacob and I met through friends on the UWS.
Which kitchen that you worked at in the past was most formative to you, and why?
There are two kitchens that have helped me become the chef I am today. The first was in The Cheesecake Factory. I was taught how to successfully stock, maintain and cook on a high volume line. I was taught how to make sure I was ready for service and always on top of what I had to get accomplished that shift. The second kitchen was Patroon under Iron Chef Geoffrey ZaKarian. It was in this kitchen I learned about flavor, presentation and taste.
Do you have a culinary mentor, or chefs whose style you particularly admire?
My mentor in the restaurant business was Scott Young. A general manager for places like Harley Davidson, BB Kings Blues Club and Grill, The Palm, and more, he taught me a lot of what I know about the business. To this day, I still call him for advice. Chefs that I have admired in my career are Paul Prudhomme, Marcus Samuelsson, Geoffrey Zakarian, Jacques Pepin, Roy Yamaguchi, Larry Forgione, Rick Moonen and Wylie Dufresne.
What’s your favorite thing on the menu?
The shrimp and grits.
Do you have any specific ideas for the future?
Yes, Jacob and I are currently testing new menu items to bring into the restaurant.
What is your favorite restaurant in New York, and why?
Fatty Cue - my wife and I enjoy the fusion of the cuisine there. Nothing better than "Master Fat."
What was the best meal you’ve ever eaten?
One of the best meals I have eaten was recently at The London. My wife and I spent our first wedding anniversary there and had an amazing time. The courses were very well matched with all the amuse bouche sent out. They did a great job both in both service and food.
Does Jacob have a head bartender, and if so, do you plan on collaborating with the bar to pair beer/cocktails with your menu?
Yes - Drew, Jacob and I work hand in hand to make delicious pairings of food and spirits. We use the freshest market ingredients we can find and change the cocktails weekly.
What’s the most exciting thing about the current culinary scene?
To me, it is the amount of fusion going on. So many different cuisines blended together to create amazing dishes
Jacob’s Pickles is open Monday through Thursday from 11AM to 2AM, Friday from 11AM-4AM, Saturday from 9AM to 4AM and Sunday from 9AM-2AM.
509 Amsterdam Avenue