Last Friday evening, my Mother traveled up to school to take my brother and I out for a dinner at J. Christians (9 North Main Street, Wallingford, CT 06492, http://www.jchristians.com/ <http://www.jchristians.com/> ). J. Christians is a hub for Choate students who are dining out, as well as others in Wallingford community seeking a casual yet elegant dinner. The atmosphere of the restaurant hits you like a 300 pound NFL Linebacker, when you walk through the door. The space was once the location of a 1920s-era bank, and the current ambience and aura that the restaurant gives off echoes that fact completely. The high ceilings soared delicately above our heads, and after we observed the graceful, classic upper area of the restaurant we are greeted with a flight of stairs placed smack dab in the middle of the space. These steps lead to the luxurious mezzanine/balcony of J. Christians. This area gave those who were seated in it (our family included) the full view of what was going on below us, and allowed for the perfect contrast in seating arrangements (not everyone was sitting in a large cluster, there was room to stretch out and enjoy your self).
After sitting down at a wonderful table amidst the liveliness and excitement of the restaurant, we were greeted by a kind, professional waiter, who may I add was sporting a great mustache. He explained to us in great depth and detail the dishes and specials they were serving that evening and in addition, made numerous suggestions to us our regarding dinner choices.
To start off our small, yet delicious feast we ordered 2 things: She-Crab Soup, and Sauteed Crispy Brussels Sprouts with a Sriracha Vinaigrette.
The She-Crab Bisque was in one word, disappointing. If you were under the impression that she-crabs were female crabs, you are correct!
Supposedly the Roe in the female crabs produces a soup that is enjoyed by many bisque lovers all around the world, but alas the extreme fishy-ness of the soup bombarded both my mouth and my nose. I was distracted by the wretched smell of the soup and was therefore unable to indulge a great deal in the dish.
The Crispy Brussels Sprouts were not in fact very crispy, but quite tasty nonetheless.
The Sprouts were lightly sauteed until they showed a perfect caramelization, and were then hit with a light, airy, slightly spicy and sour Sriracha vinaigrette. The dressing of the appetizer provided a wonderful contrast between the deep, earthiness of the brussels sprouts and the tartness of the prepared dressing.
For our entrees we ordered three items: Short Ribs, Shrimp Grits, and Fried Chicken.
The Short Ribs were tender and erupting with warm, sweet brown Jus from every nook and cranny of the slab of meat. The dish was served on a voluptuous, heavenly cloud of tart Asiago cheese and finished with a handful of crispy, salty fried onions on top.
The Shrimp and Grits is the flagship dish of Head Chef Jonathan Harris and as a result remains the dish that J. Christians is most commonly known for. The Grits were creamy and velvety, and left you with a soothing, comforting feeling.
The cheese of choice was of course the Asiago, Asiago, is a cow’s milk cheese, produced only on the Asiago plateau in the Veneto foothills in Italy, and is used to give a touch of Italian Flavor in an otherwise Southern Dish. In addition to the grits, the dish was served with shrimp and sausage. The shrimp was not remarkable, but the sausage was something that truly caught my moms attention. She was astounded by how salty the dish was and in turn the saltiness detracted from her general satisfaction.
Lastly we obtained a plate of two large Fried Chicken Breasts. The Chicken was the highlight of the meal.
The bird was moist, and succulent on the inside while presenting the consumer with a crusty, crispy outer layer. The chicken was floating in a pool of salty, sumptuous, silky white gravy, and was resting delicately on a wall of buttery, grainy mashed potatoes.
For dessert we were greeted by a flight of beignets in the form of a large V. As we all know V is for victory, and this is exactly what the donuts tasted like.
The Beignets were plump, sproingy and spongy and were served with a light dusting of powdered sugar, and a bowl of hot, melted dark chocolate.
Overall my time at J. Christians was very enjoyable, but the low points of the meal stood out in my mind as I look back at the my experience there. I would give it ZZZ- 3 Z’s- Yum!