Pickles Take Manhattan

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Luckily, the space housing Jacob's Pickles proved massive, considering that on a Thursday night shortly after it opened, the place was packed with students, moms pushing strollers and large groups eager to see what the hype was about.

We got in just in time to snag a cozy table in the back and, despite the room's size and volume of people in it, the exposed brick walls and intimacy of the setup helped give it an amorous aura. Now, if only they could dim the dazzling chandeliers a little and the space would be spot-on for romance-minus the occasional cry of a child.

The menu? Not so romantic, unless you happen to be a craft beer, Southern food and pickle connoisseur, which my companion and I are. First thing, we ordered a round of beers. He got Brooklyn Brewery's Companion ($8), a special brew made for the release of the Oxford Companion to Beer, which was edited by their head brewer Garrett Oliver. While his was malty and amber in color, I went to the dark side and chose the sweet, rich Allagash Black ($9), a strong stout at 7.5 percent that Jacob's mislabeled as 10 percent. OK, so maybe we know more about beer than most, but honestly, that was part of what drew us in-the beer and the pickles.

Owned by Jacob Hadjigeorgis, the restaurant's focus shines through, though they do tend toward the expensive side given that one order of pickles runs $4 for a measly three or four small pieces. You are better off ordering the platter, which lets you sample all six flavors for $15: peppery asparagus spears; your basic, crunchy sour pickle; sweet sticks of carrot that have a chili kick; simple, sugary beet slices; slivers of cucumber touted as hot that were really more like a bread-and-butter pickle; and our favorite, the sour, firm green tomato wedges.

While the beers we had did the trick before the pickles, ones that go best to cut the lip-puckering, vinegar tinge of the preserved vegetables are brews like the refreshing Narrangansett lager ($7) or the hoppy Founder's Centennial IPA ($8). They also offer Lagunitas Doppel ($8), which, though it's a dark wheat, melds nicely with the sweetness presented by some of the pickles. Its roundness also cuts the bite of the more abrasive ones.

Jacob's also offers an array of tasty cocktails, most which have a pickled component, including the spicy, meal-in-a-cup Bloody B.L.T. ($13) with peppercorn vodka, Niman Ranch bacon and a jalapeño pickled egg; the vodka and dill pickle brine-filled Dirty Aphrodite ($12) and a margarita ($12) with house-infused jalapeño tequila mixed with a spicy pickle brine. Of course, you can also get the ubiquitous pickle back, which includes a double shot of Dickle #12 whiskey and house pickle brine ($11), possibly the best deal on the menu.

Despite the pickled selection, Jacob's has an extensive food list beyond its namesake dish. It has decent biscuits that, while a little dry, are brightened by the homemade strawberry and orange preserves ($8) or a salty-sweet chicken liver jam ($10). The leek country sausage adds a nice, fresh meatiness to the starch-heavy starters ($14)-the obligatory mac 'n' cheese ($14) turned out light on the palate yet pleasingly heavy on the mushroom flavor and their fried honey-chicken sandwich proved not too greasy, though not totally worth the $13 price tag.

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