Monday, May 11, 2009

The Elite - Jackson

Downtown Jackson suffers the same fate as many cities, after 5pm the streets roll up till the morning. This makes finding a pre-show dinner a bit of a challenge. Luckily, the Elite on Capitol Street is open and ready to please.

A feature of downtown Jackson for more than 60 years, the Elite is a part of that small group of Greek owned and operated restaurants that dominate the Jackson restaurant scene.

With that little bit of background, I was quickly shown to a table, and got my first look at one of the Elite’s trademarks.

The bottle on the right is regular ketchup, but the bottle on the left contains the renowned comeback dressing.

Best eaten drizzled over a cracker, this stellar combination of spiced up mayo & saltines has been known to ruin the appetite of many a diner.

Thankfully I was only able to munch on a few cracker & comeback combos before my appetizer arrived.

I figured it couldn’t hurt to try the house gumbo, and at first glance it looks excellent. Full of okra and tomatoes, I was quickly disappointed when I found that it lacked the dark roux flavor that is the foundation of all good gumbos. It was all downhill from there; the shrimp had been frozen too long and were a little mushy, not to mention the crab seemed to have been thrown in as an afterthought.

After complaining to myself about the lack of service and a perpetually empty water glass, our entrees began to arrive.

Like the comeback, the Elite is known for the veal cutlet. Served pan fried and covered in cream sauce with a side of salad and French fries, it looks like an great dinner plate. However, I soon noticed that the veal cutlet was tough and hard to cut with the dull dinner knives. In addition to toughness, it lacked any real flavor and was generally a sub-par cut of meat, something that is easily obscured by the unctuous cream sauce.

Luckily, I was able to sneak a piece of the house fried chicken.

Served, in this instance, with all white meat, this fried chicken takes a half hour to arrive, but is worth the wait. A crisp and delicious skin covers an exceptionally juicy and flavorful meat. It may not be the healthiest meal, but neither is a cutlet covered in gravy.

With the entrees come the last of the Elite trademark’s, the yeast rolls.

Ever since the death of Mr. Zouboukos, the flavor has gone a little downhill, but these are still excellent yeast rolls, and are sublime with a little butter.

The prices may have risen and the service slightly declined, but the Elite has a solid hold on the restaurant scene in downtown Jackson. It carries a sense of nostalgia for many people, and people of any age will recall their first time at the Elite. Personally, after the death of Mr. & Mrs. Zouboukos, I prefer to be a patron of Anthony Z’s in Madison, if only he had the fried chicken.

Elite Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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