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“Who'da thunk?”
Review of Jack and Charlie's

Jack and Charlie's
Ranked #37 of 287 Restaurants in Visalia
Dining options: Reservations
Restaurant details
Dining options: Reservations
Torrance, California
Level 6 Contributor
130 reviews
85 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 155 helpful votes
“Who'da thunk?”
Reviewed December 22, 2013

It was exactly what I wasn't expecting: upscale cuisine in the basement of the old jailhouse in downtown Visalia. A huge array of surprisingly sophisticated little plates. Wow.

At eight pm on a Sunday night downtown is hardly hopping, so we were able to find parking right in front of the front door (marked by the English- style phone booth, which this time of the year, at least, is gaily bedecked in lights.) We walked downstairs to the first of two doors, feeling a bit like we needed to give a password to get in, so we were surprised to find the extremely spacious property virtually empty. We were led to a plush booth decked out with wine linen and wine glasses, asked our choice of water and presented our menus. The choices were staggering: macaroni and cheese? Caviar? Tartar of salmon with caviar toast? Sea urchin? Well over a dozen choices faced us, plus about ten artisan cheeses, salads and soups. The entrees sounded equally promising: besides the prerequisite steak, there was lamb, muscovy duck breast and pancetta wrapped quail, offering thoughtful and artistic preparations and paired with local produce. And it all sounded wonderful.

As if this already weren't a great deal to choose from, the restaurant presents you the additional option of three, four or five course prix fixe tasting menus each night. In lieu of stuffing ourselves to the gills, we opted to share four small plates and a bottle of moscofilero, a fragrant white wine we usually only see at Greek restaurants. Salmon tartar and salmon roe on toast were enjoyable; the maitake mushroom toast served with an addictive creamy sauce I had to resist licking off the plate. Macaroni and cheese lived up to the build-up it was given in previous reviews: hot, creamy and satisfying with the crunchy topping and its mixture of local cheeses, but to my palate, the topping was a bit salty. And don't ask me why, but for some inexplicable reason two non-brussels sprouts people zoned in on the brussels sprouts, a tangy mixture which included sriracha, lemon, capers and almonds. The fact that we cleaned the platter lays testimony to how good the dish was. And did I mention their bread is wonderful? We never did make it to dessert as the four small plates, bread and wine had us happily content-- so dessert will have to wait for another occasion.

While we enjoyed our food, do be aware that the kitchen tends to be a bit heavy-handed with pepper. I like pepper, so that's not an issue for me, but since I know there are folks out there who don't, take note.

I've noticed a number comments about the lack of service. While I will admit things were slow, I guess it's a matter of perception. If food is the star of a night out at a restaurant for you, you're going to be more cognizant of the service and the time spent waiting. If, on the other hand, an evening out is more about relaxation, slowing your pace, enjoying your company, conversation and your surroundings, the speed of the meal becomes less important. So yes, I will concede there were perceptible dot-dot-dots between visits from our server, but for us, the slow pace was perfect. We sipped our water-- and later our wine-- kicked back, chatted a bit with the bartender (as I mentioned, things were exceedingly slow that night, so he came over to see if we were happy), and each time our server dropped by, she'd converse with us as well. She managed to successfully merge a low key professional demeanor with her innate warmth and charm, and we were glad to have gotten the opportunity to chat with her a bit. Oh, and she DID warn us not to touch the handles of the serving dish containing the macaroni and cheese, just in case anyone happened to wonder.

I'm not sure when we'll be back in Visalia the next time, but when we do Jack and Charlie's will definitely be part of the agenda. I've had good meals and just okay meals in Visalia before; but this one was truly one that was memorable. A big thumbs up

Visited November 2013
Thank Gail G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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53 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Rating summary
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Italian first
  • Any
English first
Santa Rosa, CA
Level 5 Contributor
42 reviews
18 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 76 helpful votes
“Color me surprised!”
Reviewed October 20, 2013

Wow, didn't expect to find this kind of fine dining in Visalia. Enjoyed two dinners here during a conference. The preparations were inventive (sea urchin! lamb three ways!) and the presentations were an artistic delight. It was great to be able to customize your own tasting menu. Everyone raved about each course, which is also astonishing, considering we had some very sophisticated palates in our group.The wait staff flawlessly handled our party of nine.

Visited October 2013
Thank Lynn & Wayne G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Visalia, California
Level 4 Contributor
29 reviews
22 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
“Anniversary Dinner”
Reviewed October 5, 2013 via mobile

We had excellent service and the food was better than average. The thing that made this $120.00 meal for two less than stellar was the flies and gnats "bugging" me during our meal. I could understand if I were eating outside, but inside a fairly expensive restaurant, is pretty unforgivable. Again the service was great and the food good.

Visited October 2013
Thank William L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level 6 Contributor
174 reviews
117 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 74 helpful votes
“WOW! Great meal!”
Reviewed August 23, 2013

We decided to try this place because it had good reviews and I wanted to try California cuisine. Our waitress, Nalor, was such a sweetheart! Such a positive attitude! We wanted to try Absinthe and she suggested that we watch the process at the bar! It is so much fun and the bar tender was great. He had done his homework. The food was delicious. We had lamb meatballs as an appetizer. They were wonderfully seasoned. For entrees, we had trout and pork tenderloin. Melt in your mouth good. We asked for dessert to go. My peanut butter pie was so much more than "just" peanut butter. It was a small round mousse set on a chocolate cookie base with chocolate syrup and whipped cream! The caramel flan had wonderful fresh fruit and caramel sauce. This place is very elegant but not fussy. Just wish we didn't live so far away!

  • Visited August 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Thank Texas1964
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Spokane, Washington
Level 6 Contributor
160 reviews
110 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 39 helpful votes
“Just there for drinks...”
Reviewed June 29, 2013

But had a great time. The house-made potato chips were great, and they had an excellent cocktail menu and numerous top-shelf single malt Scotches, which suited me just fine. Our friends who live in the area recommended it for dinner as well, but we just had drinks here.

  • Visited June 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
1 Thank Driver1969
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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