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“Do Not Eat at J&J Chop House”
Review of J & J Chop House - CLOSED

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J & J Chop House
Cuisines: American
Dining options: Reservations
Restaurant details
Dining options: Reservations
Reviewed August 23, 2012

DO NOT eat at J & J Chop House, and not just because the food is hit or miss. Long winded reviews are only read by about 20% of people scanning reviews. I am going to go into detail about my experience at J & J Chop House, so if you don’t read any further just know in conclusion I am going to say you’ll waste your money on inconsistent food and patronize a restaurant owned and operated by a complete jerk.

I’ve owned a vacation home in West Jefferson in Ashe County North Carolina since 2005. I have tried to support every restaurant that has tried to take root in the surrounding area for the past seven years by eating there myself as well as encouraging friends, family and employees, clients and vendors who use my cabin to support the local restaurants as well. With Matthew’s and Sweet Aromas having closed within the past year I was initially thrilled to see a place like J & J Chop House had opened.

My wife and I read some reviews of J &J Chop House and saw they’d received about 50% positive ratings from their reviewers over the past year. But knowing that it sometimes takes 1-2 years for a new establishment to hit its stride, we lowered our expectations and set out to visit J & J Chop House on the evening of August 11.

What Went Well

J & J Chop House is located at 327 Main St in Jefferson, NC. They’ve up fitted an old house and made an attractive restaurant with a nice deck for an outside dining option. We were greeted by a friendly hostess and despite reading a few poor reviews about service our waitress was very cordial and attentive and made good recommendations for sides and dessert. The wine list was small, but had nice selections. We had two nice glasses of wine and the crab dip appetizer. My wedge salad was excellent (served with two dressings to satisfy either the blue cheese lover or those wanting something in the sweeter side). The coleslaw accompanying my wife’s entrée was excellent. Unfortunately I cannot include the rest of the entrees in the “What Went Well” section. For dessert we had the chocolate cake and it was very good: moist and delicious.

What We We’re Willing to Overlook

The J & J menu has a steak cooking guide printed in the menu. I like “Medium - Warm Pink Center” and double checked it in the menu to see that it was described just that way before ordering. My 6 ounce fillet arrived cold and what more closely matched the “Well Done – No Pink” description in the menu. But I was just happy to be out of the house so I accepted the A1 Steak Sauce the waitress had offered and put in the effort to eat the steak with no complaints. My wife ordered the fish and chips. What arrived were cold, overcooked French fries and two, small, overcooked pieces of fish with two smaller pieces– about the size of a silver dollar with almost no fish inside. My wife forked through the thick doughy batter and to find rubbery, hard fish inside. My guess is in a town where restaurants close by 9 PM our 8:30 PM arrival required the kitchen to turn the deep fryer back on and it didn’t get up to temperature well enough to cook the fish properly. My wife never sends anything back, but the fish wasn’t edible so she called the waitress over to explain. She said she was happy to just finish the coleslaw and maybe have dessert. The waitress said she was sorry and would take the fish and chips off the bill. A few minutes later the owner arrived at our table (recognized from his picture on the table as the second “J” in the J & J name, Jerry). He asked in what sounded a rather stern tone, “What is the problem with the fish?” I thought this was slightly odd way to handle the situation, but gave him the benefit of the doubt that he wasn’t being rude. My wife said it wasn’t edible; that it was overcooked and hard and that she would just eat the coleslaw and he didn’t have to replace the fish. He asked if she wanted another order and she replied, “No. I am not upset about the fish, I am just not going to eat it. We’re fine – everything else is very good.” Jerry, still without a customary apology, spun on heel and returned to the kitchen. My wife and I both were reconciled to forgive the bad entrees. She just wasn’t going to eat hers, but didn’t want anything other than what the waitress had already offered – to not be charged for the inedible fish and chips.
We finished the meal with the nice dessert mentioned above. At this point we didn’t have the greatest experience, but we were talking about how we’d definitely come back since some things were good and they’d maybe do better on the couple of lackluster items next time. I was planning to leave a note at our vacation home recommending J & J Chop House to all of our visitors.

What Was Inexcusable

When our bill arrived the total was $90.24 and it included the $15 fish and chips. I assumed it was an oversight by the waitress and told her so. She turned ghost white and nervously asked if the owner had come to our table and I told her he had. Her voice trembled as she explained that the owner had told her to put the charge back on our bill. She apologized and asked if I wanted to speak to him. I initially said yes to which she replied he was on the phone. I was furious, realizing that his demeanor when he’d come to our table earlier was exactly what it appeared to be, defensive and hostile. I decided not to wait for him to get off the phone and to simply pay the bill in full (adding full tip for the faultless waitress) and leave, never to return.

As we went out to our car we found Jerry behind the restaurant on the phone. My wife approached him and asked why he’d reversed the waitress’s offer to remove the fish and chips form our bill. He replied that the fish had been cooked perfectly, she should have been satisfied with it and he expected us to pay for it. He said something else indiscernible to either of us and resumed his phone conversation while walking away. We were awestruck. We have never experienced such behavior from a restaurateur before and he’d totally soured our experience.
You are welcome to confirm by checking my Yelp reviews that I have reviewed both high end and lower end of the spectrum restaurants. I’ve only given one other negative review and that was to a restaurant that got lots of bad reviews and closed within a few months. The point is that I am historically positive about restaurant experiences and give a lot of latitude. As you see from this recounting of our experience at J & J Chop Shop that they do some things well and others might in fact have a good experience there. But based on our encounter with the second J in J & J I will never set foot there again nor advocate anyone else do so.

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11  Thank BigOleHungryBoy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Mandy D, Owner at J & J Chop House, responded to this reviewResponded June 18, 2013

I believe you were contacted by my husband about your negative experience at J&J Chophouse, but I wanted to respond to this review and make you aware of some changes that have taken place over the past few weeks.

We have recently hired a new chef, created a new menu, and made some other staff changes as well. Our customers are very important to us, and we want to make their dining experience wonderful on all levels.

We are having a grand re-opening this coming Wednesday (June 19th), and we sincerely hope you will come back and give us another try.

Thank you.

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviews (33)
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24 - 28 of 33 reviews

Reviewed August 21, 2012

I'm an area native who has not lived here for 30 years (but I return regularly) and consider myself well-traveled and a bit of a foodie. I've visited a few times now and felt it time for a review.

This enjoyable little restaurant isn't perfect (it's still very young and shows signs of some immaturity) and has a little room for improvement on a few items, but the attitude is correct, the talent evident, and the service and atmosphere very good. My 4 star rating is on a nationwide scale.. for the Ashe County area it would be a full 5 star... easily my favorite spot there now. (The fact it's open until 10pm also makes it one of the few "late night" options around)

I will say that it's far better than my favorite restaurant in the Frederick, MD area was at the same point in their timeline, so I have great optimism for it as it matures.

The wine list is short but very well chosen with some of the best options also available by the glass. I would expand the "by the bottle" selection a little deeper but there, but I've always found a nice match (by the glass even) for everything I've had there. The wine prices are surprisingly reasonable (especially given the lack of local competition).

The appetizers have been uniformly good (they must have improved over earlier reviews) but not as innovative as I'd like to see. This is the place to introduce people to new tastes and experiences... I'd push the envelope here a bit more.

The iceberg wedge salad is really nice... innovative with excellent presentation. The house salad while of acceptable quality is boring and mediocre with no effort evident. Too many restaurants make this sort of mistake... just because it's the "base option" doesn't mean it should lag that far behind the "signature" dishes... ever have a bad vino de la casa in Italy?

The entrees really shine. The Filet Mignon was as good as I've ever had and the blackened fish special was very special. I'm looking forward to delving deeper into the menu but it will take lots of willpower to move off the steak.

One aspect of the menu that I really like is the ability to add some seafood to any of the steak dishes (a skewer of grilled shrimp or scallops, crabmeat, etc). This is something I routinely do when I cook at home but it's rare to see it so readily available (and reasonably priced) as a routine part of a menu. Well done!

With one exception the sides ranged from very good (veggie medley) to exceptional (roasted red pepper garlic mashed potatoes are a world class side while the penne with cheese is _way_ too good to now be relegated to the kid's menu... add a little adult black pepper and it's wonderful).

The exception? We're huge sweet potato fans and appreciate their presence on the menu, but they don't quite have the preparation down for the baked option which came out overdone on one end and under on the other.

Desserts? Very nice and reasonably priced traditional selection. This is another place I'd throw in something more innovative to push some boundaries.

In summary, an excellent choice when in the area with all the right attributes needed to grow into a really exceptional restaurant.

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1  Thank wcelliot
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 1, 2012 via mobile

Went to the chophouse for dinner. Terrible meal.
I had the grilled Mahi. Could tell the fish was frozen. Also, the steamed vegetables were obviously canned.
It was overpriced. Trying to be fine dining in a small town and it missed the target completely.

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2  Thank anchir
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 10, 2012

My sister and I dined this evening and were so disappointed. While the atmosphere is very nice and the menu is appetizing our food was unacceptable. The fried pickles were poorly prepared. We noticed they were still on other diner's tables after they left. The house salad was bagged lettuce and my soup was cold. Other diner's had bread baskets we were never offered. Our bread pudding was one inch thick which was completely different from the thick rich pudding the waitress showed us on her tray. We have enjoyed all of our dining experiences in Jefferson with the exception of the J&J Chop House.

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3  Thank BAH796
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 30, 2012

We tried this restaurant on our last visit to the town for lunch. The waitress suggested the blue cheese stuffed hamburger. When the plate arrived it was a tiny burger on a huge bun. The meat was really bad quality and full of grissle with a teaspoon of blue cheese on top. I probably should have sent back but we were running out of time. The waitress was really nice but rushed us so much that I just decided to eat the fries. Quite a few people in the restaurant but then saw everyone had a $5 off coupon but us! My burger was really pricey for a McDonald like quality. Won't be trying this again.

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2  Thank Jane J
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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