Sometimes, a restaurant’s name can tell diners a bit about what they are about to get into when they walk through its doors. In the case of The Jax, the name, along with other details of its logo, paint a pretty accurate picture.
Co-owners and siblings Aimee and Brad Lovitz opened the restaurant back in May. While the name is a playful reference to a timeless children’s game, the ornate compass in its logo reveals another layer to the restaurant’s culinary charm.
“We like to say it’s globally inspired, locally infused,” Aimee said.
Many people are probably very familiar to The Jax’s location if they frequent downtown Lexington. It stands on 101 W. Short St., which was formerly home to restaurants/bars such as Annabelle’s, Mia’s and most recently Rosetta.
The space’s large windows still give diners great views of the lights and liveliness of Short and Limestone, but The Jax’s interior is cozy, inviting and modern thanks to rich colors and designs of Morocco.
For starters, The Jax’s specialty drinks, referred to as “rituals,” all come courtesy of mixologist Jeremiah Cox, head of The Lexington Bartending School. Needless to say, there’s at least one of them that should quench your thirst and kick off your evening properly…especially its Moscow Mule served in a traditional copper mug.
Outside of the signature cocktails, the wine by the glasses ranges from $5 to $12, they have numerous craft and local beers by Country Boy Brewing and West Sixth on draft or in bottled form and, for any of you big spenders, they offer bottle service after 8 p.m. every night.
While the interior may be inspired by one country in particular, the menu is all over the map. You’ll find appetizers, entrees and desserts inspired by Mexico, Cuba, Italy and various parts of Asia while making sure to include a few classic American staples, all courtesy of chef Natalie Blake.
Regardless of where the inspiration comes from, The Jax is a scratch kitchen and tries to remain loyal to its local food providers, whether it’s getting its pasta from Lexington Pasta Company or several of its breads from Great Harvest Bread.
What I Like
When it comes to The Jax, the food won me over thanks to the unexpected twists it occasionally throws your way.
Its popular Bangkok, a Thai dish you can get with either chicken or shrimp, is not only super flavorful but has a surprising presentation with the help of coconut black rice. A simple cheese dip appetizer gets an unusual treatment by combining mascarpone, Swiss and cream cheese with sautéed cremini mushrooms and caramelized onions. And shareable plates like the Ricotta & Rhubarb is something I would have never dreamed up, but its combination of smooth creaminess and sweetness coupled with cinnamon-dusted toast points is something I could eat to start or finish a meal.
Speaking of a good finish, ditch the usual sweet treats and try the restaurant’s Cuban Plantains, fried just right and bursting with sweetness topped with caramel sauce, toasted coconut and served with coconut whipped cream.
Where most restaurants may decide to give you a condensed version of its dinner menu with a few different items for lunch, The Jax’s lunch menu is a completely different experience, focusing on sandwiches, soups and salads, including a killer Cranberry Turkey sandwich with Great Harvest cranberry bread, romaine lettuce, house-made mayo, avocado and cranberry chutney. Its garnished with pickles, which you should definitely eat since they are made in-house.
Aside from a welcome price point (only a few entrees on the dinner menu exceed $20) I appreciate its dedication to not only being a great place to eat but also a great place to hang out. Lexington can certainly benefit from more genuine lounges like this, and with its daily double social hours from 5 to 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. to 1 a.m., you can get $5 apps and desserts, glasses of wine or premium liquor and drinks. You could also spend a solid weekend being entertained at The Jax thanks to live music on Friday, DJs spinning on Saturday and its new Sunday Bingo nights (you read that right) hosted by popular Lexington comedian Christopher P. McKnight.
The fact that I’m pleasantly surprised by what The Jax offers on a variety of levels isn’t an accident, at least according to its owners.
“We’re giving guests what they need and what they don’t know that they want,” Aimee said.
859.721.2339 | 101 W. Short Street | jaxlex.com