Jack-Tar may have a historic name (it’s another term for old salt), but this restaurant is up to date, serving a variety of American dishes with a creative flair and catering to today’s cash-strapped patrons with worthwhile deals.
We visited on the Old-Town Marblehead restaurant Sunday night and were warmly greeted. We ordered drinks at the large mahogany bar and were pleasantly surprised by the Not Your Mother’s Gin & Tonic, featuring freshly muddled cilantro and Tanqueray 10. It was a bit on the sweet side, but the good-sized drink went down easy and was a nice change from the ordinary.
We sat down a few minutes later and were served warm bread with herb butter and told the specials (including the prices, which we love). Both of the appetizers we sampled were tasty: a saucy, good-sized barbeque duck quesadilla ($9) and five bacon-wrapped scallops over a salad with an apple slaw ($9). Also on offer are smaller apps portions for $2 to $4, a nice option for sampling.
We took advantage of an every-night special: a choice of four pizzas are $5 between 5:00 and 7:00. The pancetta and blue cheese ’za also featured fresh basil, plum tomato slices, and aged balsamic. The medium-thick crust had good flavor, and the toppings were plentiful and delicious.
We also ordered the Memphis ribs ($18), featuring tender ribs, crunchy sweet potato fries, corn bread, coleslaw, and baked beans. The grilled salmon ($19) with a maple balsamic glaze and horseradish mashed potatoes was perfectly cooked, moist and savory.
The junior member of our group was enthusiastic about her chicken quesadilla from the kids menu, and the price was right: kids eat free on Sunday night.
The service was friendly and attentive, and our only complaint was a wait of about 15 minutes for our appetizers. There were quite a few families with toddlers when we arrived, so plan to dine after 6:30 or so for a quieter meal. We congratulate new owners Scott and Emily Brankman, both of whom have considerable restaurant experience, on their menu and hope they keep up the good work—we’re looking forward to drinks and snacks on their outdoor patio this summer.
Jack-Tar American Tavern
126 Washington Street, Marblehead