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The Glutton’s Guide: Jackson Hall, East Islip

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Jackson Hall

Jackson Hall is a Must Visit!

It’s a Tuesday at 5pm… and you can’t find a parking spot in the giant U-shaped lot that surrounds East Islip’s Jackson Hall.  Thankfully there’s a bank next door for the overflow to this gastronomic gem that has been taking Long Island’s social media by storm.  

Why you might ask?  Well for one… it’s Taco Tuesday.  $3 tacos and $6 margaritas are certainly a lure with Bang Bang Shrimp and Crispy Fish tacos as options.

Or maybe it’s the vivacious personality of the place – headed by Chef and General Manager Michael Landesberg.  If Chef Mike isn’t in the kitchen creating a video educating patrons on the differences between prime rib and a ribeye steak – he’s at the reception desk greeting guests or walking through the restaurant “paying it forward” – a unique idea in itself that we will get to later.  You see – Chef Mike is a survivor.  While the world braved COVID – he was busy battling (and ultimately beating) cancer.  

Jackson Hall Offerings

A crew of us from Going Local Long Island arrived for an early dinner in part because of a Dine Long Island survey that voted them as “Best Lobster Roll” on the entire island – besting by a wide margin even places that have been honored and revered for decades. 

We came with empty bellies ready to devour portions of a menu that includes twenty appetizers, nine different salads, a dozen different burger and sandwich options outside of their seven different “Lobster Roll” offering. I guess what I’m getting at is Jackson Hall has something for everyone.  That includes man’s best friend with an outdoor front patio that’s dog friendly and includes a “Pup Menu” for dog lover’s driving from other counties to come visit.

Appetizers

Chef Mike started us out with a burrata dish that’s often on their special menu.  The burrata was situated on a piece of fig jam glazed toasted ciabatta bread, and wrapped in prosciutto.  Served on a bed of greens with sliced figs and strawberry garnishes… it was the most perfect introduction to a meal I have ever had.  The creamy burrata balanced by the sweetness of the fig jam and the saltiness of the prosciutto was an explosion of flavors that will dance in my dreams for the weeks to come.

We moved on to a seasonal favorite that is difficult to say no to – Stuffed Zucchini Flowers – and paired them with another appetizer special of BBQ burnt ends that featured the perfect amount of spiced glaze.

Main Course

For our main course, we each chose a different lobster roll to sample.  From the cold Maine salad, to a “Maryland Lobster Roll” that featured Old Bay seasoning and mixed in with crabmeat, warm buttered Connecticut style, to a “Long Island” roll with a spiced butter.  It was easy to know why Jackson Hall won the best lobster roll contest. 

Instead of a traditional potato hot dog bun, Chef Mike’s creations were so massive they had to use a potato hoagie roll to fit all the lobster.  The bread was perfectly buttered and toasted.  The lobster was a perfectly cooked collaboration of claw, knuckle AND tail meat.  Each day – the kitchen cooks fresh lobsters and uses every bit of the ocean crustacean.  The leftover shells become the base of their now famous lobster bisque.  

In my travels over the last decade – I’ve sampled over two hundred different lobster roll creations.  Collaborating with a good friend, we became known as :The Lobster Roll Guys” and jokingly created a patented rating system based on “Claws” from 1-10.  Standouts included places like Canal Cafe in Hampton Bays, Neptunes Oyster House in Boston, MA, Slapfish of Laguna Beach, CA, and Ford’s Lobster in Noank, CT.  Each of these places achieved the coveted 9.0 or better rating.  

And on par with the best of the best now sits Jackson Hall.  I would rate the experience at 9.7 Claws.

The Lobster Bomb

As our lobster rolls were served – at the centerpiece, Chef Mike placed their Lobster Bomb.  In a twist on the traditional lobster roll is a giant bread bowl, scooped out and toasted, their famous lobster bisque ladled along the bottom and then filled with butter poached lobster.  More bisque coats the top and drips over the edges before being garnished and presented with a steak knife piercing the surface like Excalibur protruding from the stone in Arthurian legend.

Which makes perfect sense… because this was a feast of decadence fit for a king.  As I pen these words… I can feel a small throbbing from my left big toe as the gout reminds me it is never too far away.  

More Reasons to Visit Jackson Hall

If my words so far have not given you reason to venture to Jackson Hall in East Islip…  here’s some more compelling reasons.  A prix-fixe two-course $17.95 lunch menu with nine options of appetizer and main courses.  A brunch menu with $4 mimosas and $5 Bloody Mary’s and Maria’s.  Half-price bottles of wine on Wednesdays.  

And if that doesn’t yet do it for you… then you might just want to go to witness a “Pay it Forward” event in person.  Jackson Hall has established this idea of good will, celebrating life each day – and giving back when they can – and it has caught on to the generosity of their steady patrons.  As mentioned before, Chef Mike survived cancer only a few years ago.  Filled with a gratitude for this second chance at life, and knowing his talent to create incredible meals – he spreads that joy throughout the restaurant with gift cards to unsuspecting patrons. 

We had a chance to witness this firsthand when Melissa from Going Local purchased two $50 gift cards to be part of this pay it forward experience and give them to a lucky table.   The experience overall… well, it warms your heart, it warms your soul and it certainly fills your belly.  And now you know why the parking lot is packed at 5pm on a Tuesday.  

For more information about Jackson Hall, click HERE!

For more articles from “The Glutton’s Guide,” click HERE!

Disclosure: Mr. Madden received a comped meal for his review, but no other compensation was received. The reviewed restaurant did not receive an advance copy of the review and receives no editorial control of the copy.

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