Walking into Jackson's BRP brought in a wave of memories. Even just driving up to Jackson's induced severe nostalgia as well. As you approach the pub, you're greeted with the big "Pabst" lit-up sign that connects two rooftops - a Milwaukee icon.
Before development took over the sign's bookend buildings, they were abandoned, brimming with history and opportunity. My personal sentimentality stems from the years in between the buildings' hey day and before the revival into apartments, a hotel, and Jackson's BRP.
Back in high school (shoutout to class of 2012!), we would sneak into the vacated buildings and admire the architectural detail, scare ourselves peering into the shadows of brewery tanks, and stand on the bridge holding the Pabst sign just so we could say that we did.
I particularly remember walking into the building to the right of the sign and walking down an intricate staircase into a large, empty, musty space. Walking into that building now, however, I was greeted by a friendly face and directed to a table in a room with huge ceilings and big windows letting in natural light.
Before the food was even ready to try, Mark Zierath, Jackson's owner, sat down with me and we started talking history. I learned that he had a similar experience to my high school self when he walked into the building several years ago. Attracted to the huge space and historical details, he took one look and said, "I take it."
As a part of a historical preservation project, Mark and his team had to abide by specific design protocol that directs the owner to restore the building to match the oldest picture they have of the space. So cream city brick peeking through fallen red, white, and blue painted plaster it was! From the hand painted emblem on the wall to the authentically detailed windows, the time and effort Jackson's took in restoring and preserving the place does not go unnoticed.
The rest, they say, is food.
Soon after the moments of reminiscing, Chef Mike Falk delivered our first course - cheese curds. I can barely formulate complete sentences talking about these magical morsels. So. Incredibly. Good. The fried cheese curds in delicious batter literally melt in your mouth and refuse to let you "just have one."
Next came the entrees. One of the most popular items on hankr to date is Jackson's Torta Ahogada. I think partially what attracts so many views is it's presentation. The words "torta ahogada" literally translate to "sandwich in soup."
Chef Mike pulls together several different influences to create this dish. The soup is a spicy broth bringing in Spanish and Middle Eastern flavors and acts as a stage (and dipping sauce) for the pork sandwich. Jackson's roasts their pork for 10 to 12 hours then combines it with a German black bean spread, pickled red onions, and pasilla aioli on a toasted baguette. The richness of the sandwich dipped in the spiced soup, then evened out with the mildness of the black bean spread makes this dish a unique and delicious display of cultural cuisines!
I barely had enough time to comment on how much I loved the Torta Ahogada when Chef Mike brought out one of his newest creations, their Quinoa Flatbread Sandwich. Having been essentially raised on meat and potatoes (German ancestry at it's finest), I normally don't go for vegetarian options, but the next time I go to Jackson's I will be ordering this sandwich. It had so much flavor and was surprisingly "meaty" and filling.
Chef Mike makes the quinoa patty with, you guessed it, quinoa! It also is made up of garbanzo, cilantro, lime, carrot and spices to round it out and is then seared to hold it all together! They make their flatbread in house and also have the option for the dish to be entirely gluten-free.
***Pictures coming soon!
Just as I started to regret agreeing to play in a pick-up soccer game later that night, I'm presented with the mountain that is Jackson's B.Y.O. Burger. A 1/2 pound Angus patty piled with all of their complimentary toppings.
I forced Mike and Mark to have a conversation while I took my first bite so no one would witness how I attempted to summit to this mighty burger. Luckily, they were good sports and I didn't have to suffer too much embarrassment.
One of the moods we use to label this dish in hankr is "epic". And I can now verify the accuracy of that title. The quality of the burger was incredible, but, with the addition of all toppings to finish it off, this dish went above and beyond.
Regardless of how full I was, for the sake of my people, I did manage to try some of their homemade, fresh french fries as well. If you know what's good for you, they will move to the top of your priority list. Like, now.
I can't say how much I enjoyed visiting Jackson's BRP and sharing some food with Mark and Mike. They were wonderful hosts and not only did we have great food, but also great conversation. It's amazing how much history the location has gone through. Hearing about it from Mark and combining our own memories of the place really complemented the entire experience.
Plus, the food. I can't get over it. This isn't just your average pub. Chef Mike and the entire Jackson's team have made it their priority to deliver the best quality food and have embraced the experimentation of new cultures and cuisines to enhance their menu even more. If you want quality conversation, culture, and cuisine, go to Jackson's!