WEST ROXBURY - In the center of West Roxbury there's a restaurant, with a rather peculiar name. The place is called Eat with Jack O'Neill. Just about everyone who steps foot into the massive restaurant has the same question.
"People are always asking who Jack is, and can they meet Jack? Is Jack here?" said General Manager Maureen McManus.
"He was an ancestor of ours who immigrated to America, and unfortunately that was the last we seen of him," explained owner Denise O'Neill.
Even though you can't actually talk with Jack anymore, you can eat with him for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Owners Colm and Denise O'Neill are the couple behind this big busy restaurant. You'll always find Colm working the room alongside Maureen, making sure all of the customers are content, while Denise mans the open kitchen, preparing it all for everyone to see and smell before they taste.
"When you're in the dining room you can see our flat breads are being made. We have a rotisserie so you'll see roast chicken, roast beef, and all that being prepared right in front of you," Maureen decribed. "We have a beautiful display case that catches everybody's eye when they come in. Any given day it'll be full with roulades. We do cheesecakes. We have cookies and tarts, and all sorts of things."
The space itself is sprawling, with three different dining options depending upon your mood.
"Right now we're in our café space which is open for breakfast," Maureen said as she showed Phantom around. "Then we have our restaurant and dining space, which has more of an elegant feel. Then further on the other side is our pub, which is a little bit more lively."
Since that dessert case that greets you as you walk in is so tempting, you may just want to start your meal with a slice of Denise's famous roulade.
"The roulade is one our signature desserts," Maureen said. "It is meringue with whipped cream and fresh berries. Then it's rolled sort of like a Swiss Cake roll."
"It's big, puffy, beautifully tasting, very light," Colm described. "It's a dessert you can eat any time. Even though it looks very substantial, it is actually very easy to eat, even after a heavy meal."
Another signature item of the house is their selection of savory pies. There's the quintessential Irish staple, Shepherd's Pie, loaded up with slow cooked lamb and root vegetables; along with a hearty Steak and Guinness pie; and the ultra-comforting Chicken Pie featuring tender poultry, slow-cooked on the spit.
The house favorite has to be Jack O'Neill's Fish Pie. This Irish delicacy is over loaded with smoked haddock, salmon, cod and bacon, topped with dollops of mashed potatoes and baked until brown.
"It has a medley of fish inside, as well as some vegetables, potato, a little bit of bacon in there, which everybody loves bacon. We actually top it with mashed potatoes, which is a traditional Irish way to do it," Maureen explained.
"It's probably my favorite go-to food. Comfort food on a cold winter's day. Fish Pie. Magnificent!" Colm exclaimed.
If you are looking for some pizza pies, Eat with Jack O'Neill offers a variety of stone baked options, from one topped with hearty Bolognese, to one featuring bacon, scallion and - in a nod to Irish tradition - potatoes.
"When you bite into the Mashed Potato and Bacon Pizza you get a little bit of everything," Maureen said. "You get that soft potato and then you get that crunchy bacon as well. You'll come back for it every time."
Other shareable plates include the Fish Tacos, which come two to a plate, topped with apple mint relish and avocado; Buffalo Wings served with housemade Bleu Cheese for dipping; or the PEI Mussels, served soaking in a drinkable broth made with white wine, garlic and herbs.
"They come out in a white wine sauce with two giant sticks of garlic bread that we make here. When you go through the dining room with them the whole place just smells delicious," Maureen said. "People love the broth and they're constantly asking for more bread to dip in the broth."
The comfort food continues right through the entree section of the menu, with flaky fish and chips, perfectly grilled steak kabobs, a big juicy burger piled high with all of your favorite toppings, and juicy rotisserie chicken.
"We brine them first and then season them before they go on the rotisserie," Denise explained. "They're very juicy."
With prices mostly in the mid-teens, your wallet will be seeing green when you Eat with Jack O'Neill. You can find it at 1885 Centre Street in West Roxbury, and online at eatwithjack.com.
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