Upper West Side Mainstay Serves Up Southern Brunch Trifecta
By: Barbara Booras
There is something inherently special about brunch. It’s not uncommon one may arrive to said meal hungover, overtired, hangry or in an unfortunate combination of all three. However, to leave happily stuffed, pleasantly buzzed, and genuinely elated is not only rare but magical. The healing powers, of one extraordinary New York City brunch spot, can be distilled down to three words: Beer, Biscuits, and Pickles.
If you are one of the fortunate individuals who have dined at the Upper West Side’s mainstay, Jacob’s Pickles, you’ve undoubtedly tasted one of their fresh-baked biscuits. Since it’s opening in 2011, the 114 seat restaurant has established itself as a southern dining destination worth traveling to.
Owner and founder, Jacob Hadjigeorgis developed the original menu inspired by extensive travel and his love of southern food and craft beer. Following in the footsteps of his restauranteur father, it came as no surprise he would assume the family trade. With two upcoming projects, both in the Upper West Side neighborhood, Hadjigeorgis continues to piggyback on the success of his namesake restaurant.
Jacob’s Pickles isn’t just bustling for brunch. The restaurant is proportionally packed for weeknight dinner service, serving up classic comfort food ranging from Shrimp and Bacon Grits, to Low Country Meatloaf, and Macaroni and Cheese. Hadjigeorgis’ first restaurant endeavor in Boston’s Quincy Market, aptly named Mmmac n' Cheese, focused solely on the cheesy classic.
For brunch, diners pack the lofty restaurant, softened by exposed brick walls and a rustic wood backed bar. Towering Bloody B.L.T’s featuring romaine lettuce, crisp bacon and a jalapeno pickled egg ($13) are a fan favorite in addition to the rotating selection of local and craft beers. While whizzing behind the bar and shaking up drinks, the bartenders (and customers) cheerfully sing along to the soundtrack of the day.
Although Jacob’s Pickles is an inviting space for large groups, saddling up at the bar with the welcoming bartenders proves an equally exceptional experience. Propped up on a bar stool, one can expect to make friends with sociable brunch-goers or take in a sighting of one of many celebrity regulars.
Executive Chef Glenroy Brown, oversees the well-oiled machine that is the back of the house at Jacob’s Pickles. With experience working for industry giants Bobby Flay and Danny Meyer, including a stint at Blue Smoke, he developed his southern culinary chops early on.
The now 28 year-old chef, studied culinary arts at The Art Institute of New York City. “School only teaches you so much,” explained Brown. After working his way up at Blue Smoke and a few restaurants around the city, Glenroy was ready to find a culinary home where he would establish himself using his own skills and techniques. “It’s definitely here,” says Brown, “and at the new place [Maison Pickle].”
Behind the scenes, Chef Brown’s team, is continually churning out small batches of biscuits, where they will typically feed over 500 hungry customers. Because of the high demand, biscuits are made on sheet trays. “It’s most efficient for the amount of volume we do,” says Brown.
Thankfully, quality is not sacrificed for quantity. The original recipe, developed by the owner, is still made by hand with just a few simple ingredients. Each fluffy batch of biscuits is baked off in a small convection oven in the center of the bustling kitchen. Once portioned off, the biscuits await in a warmer before being assembled into any number of biscuit-centric dishes.
The signature warm buttermilk biscuits can be enjoyed solo or with an array of accompaniments including house strawberry and orange preserves, clover honey, salted butter, and maple butter ($8). The kitchen finds the most popular brunch dish to be the Honey Chicken & Pickles ($16). Crisp buttermilk fried chicken is drizzled with honey, topped with house made hot sour pickles, and sandwiched between two warm biscuits.
You can find the biscuits creatively incorporated into other items on the menu as well. “They’re sweet but savory,” says Chef Brown, making them versatile and “easy to transform.” The french toast ($15), which rotates seasonally, currently features a pumpkin biscuit, topped with candied yams and powdered sugar. A Buttermilk Fried Chicken Caesar ($16) features biscuit “crostinis” or croutons, which have been fried then topped with parmesan and oregano. Finish your meal on a sweet note with the warm Biscuit Bread Pudding served up in a skillet with vanilla ice cream ($9).
With Pickles in the name, Chef Brown’s pickle game is nothing short of on point. His team makes batches of house made fresh pickles weekly. Special Sours, Hot Sour Cukes, Big Dill Kosher Cukes, Pickled Beets, Carrots, Tomatoes, and Jalapeños all grace the menu. Available one for $4, four for $11 or a sampling of eight varieties for $16. Pickles are placed in mason jars on sampling boards for customers to enjoy with a meal.
Approaching its fifth year anniversary, Jacob’s Pickles cult following only continues to grow. “I’ve been in restaurants for about nine years now and I’ve never worked in a place where people consistently wait outside for over two hours,” shared Brown. With the promise of stellar beer, biscuits, and pickles, Jacob’s Pickles transformative brunch experience is well worth the wait.
By Jacob Hadjigeorgis
Jacob’s Pickles – New York, NY
Makes about 9 Biscuits
4 ½ cups (1.25 lb) Self-Rising Flour
¾ cup (6 oz) butter, frozen and shredded
2 cups buttermilk
4 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon olive oil
Preheat oven to 325*F
Mix the flour and the butter in a large mixing bowl by hand.
Add the sugar and the buttermilk and slowly work the batter until it just comes together.
Add the olive oil to your hands and work the mixture to a quarter sheet pan.
Once the mixture is on the sheet pan, pat and smooth the top until it's completely flattened and evenly spread. Score the biscuits with a knife.
Place in the oven and bake for approximately 17 minutes, rotating the biscuit half way during the cooking process.
Let biscuits cool then cut into even squares.
Tips: Brush tops of biscuits with melted butter when they first come out of the oven. Serve with salted butter, jam or your favorite local honey.
Visit Jacob’s Pickles
509 Amsterdam Ave
New York, NY 10024
*Kitchen closes earlier. Check website for further details.
Jacob’s Pickles accepts reservations for six or more on Resy.
No reservations taken for weekend brunch.
Barbara Booras is a Boston native and freelance writer based in New York City. She works full-time in Sales for an all-natural Mediterranean-inspired importer and producer. In addition to being a lover of all things gastronomy, Barbara is an avid runner and recently completed her second NYC Marathon running with City Harvest, a local food rescue charity.