All Words & Photos By Marie Formica
Fall leaves circled adorned the Jackson 20 pig, but that wasn’t the only indication fall arrived at Alexandria, VA’s Jackson 20 restaurant. Chef Brian McPherson prepared a veritable feast with everyone’s Thanksgiving favorites a month early, paired with bourbon and cigars. We like Chef McPherson.
Jackson 20 whetted their guests’ palettes early, with a guided, four-bourbon tasting course comprised of:
- Elmer T. Lee Single Barrel Sour Mash Bourbon
- Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon
- Blanton’s Single Barrel Bourbon
- Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Bourbon
If you’re salivating and/or craving bourbon at this point, it’s OK, we get it. When remembering the sweet and smokey tastes with notes throughout the selection of citrus, vanilla and oak, it’s fine to head to the store and acquire a bottle of said crazy-good bourbons. FYI, the table favorite was Russell’s Reserve.
Priding itself on regional American food “with a Southern Accent,” Jackson 20 filled its special menu with old favorites that packed inventive, surprising flavors. The meal kicked off right with classic cornbread muffins and honey-glazed (twist!) biscuits.
Whole turkeys were carried out on shining platters before being whisked away again and expertly carved in the kitchen. The meat had a good set of spicy fall flavors and was juicy as all get out (and eco-friendly to boot; Jackson 20 is a considerate place), although if it wasn’t juicy enough Chef McPherson whipped up a bourbon turkey gravy to drown the meat in.Their house made sausage and sage stuffing knocked the hell out of any chunky bread stuffing I’ve ever had and it carried sufficient kick to earn its “spicy” title. Mashed potatoes were truffled- mere butter and cream don’t cut it this down-to-earth, high-flavor establishment.
Their pan roasted brussels sprouts were enough to make any kid reconsider their vow to never eat them again. Full disclosure: the smokey tesa and chanterelles helped this unfairly criticized veggie shine. A small side of cranberry jam gave the sweet and sour style note the meal needed to finish up full circle. After the meal, Jackson 20 topped off our favorite bourbon choices and led everyone to the courtyard where they were offered cigars that complemented the various flavors of the meal– smokey, spicy, tart, smooth. Dinner at Jackson 20 was a perfect October Thanksgiving, one I didn’t even know I needed.