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Jack's Cafe in Bowling Green, reviewed
Enjoy flavorful dishes like drunken noodles at Jack's Cafe.
LINDA SALISBURY FOR THE FREE LANCE-STAR
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BY LINDA SALISBURY
FOR THE FREE LANCE-STAR
Since we last visited Jack's Cafe in Bowling Green several years ago, it has changed owners and slightly modified its menu, but still offers outstanding food and service. At a reader's enthusiastic recommendation, we returned to try the new menu.
This small eatery specializes in Thai dishes, having dropped BBQ and sandwiches, for example, from its offerings.
Because each dish is individually prepared, it is spiced to order, meaning that it will be as mild or hot as customers prefer.
Owner Parunyou "Too" prepared the food, and his wife and co-owner, Tikumporn "Nong," tended the tables on the night we stopped by.
My Dining Partner and I began with an order of two soft garden rolls ($3.95), the fattest we've seen, bulging with crisp vegetables and three shrimp each, and ready for the peanut sauce with its pleasant kick of flavor.
MDP ordered the tom yum soup with shrimp ($3.95), and I, the tom kha ($2.95). Both were chock-full of straw mushrooms, and mine was loaded with pieces of chicken. My soup was prepared with coconut milk, making it slightly sweet, and MDP's broth was clear with a hint of sweet and sour flavoring.
We decided to split a salad (all salads are also entrees), and savored the thinly sliced beef in a piquant sauce over a bed of lettuce. A large mound of rice came with the salad.
Entrees are an amazing bargain. The daily specials are $7.50, and the regular menu offers various dishes at $7.95 with chicken or at $8.95 or with shrimp. Yes, those are dinner prices. MDP ordered Drunken Noodles with chicken. The noodles, wide, flat and lazy-looking, were topped with pieces of chicken in an oyster sauce base, sliced peppers and carrots.
I ordered chicken basil lo mein--something new for me--and was delighted with the infusion of fresh basil flavor into the ground chicken stir-fried with scallions, green and red peppers over lo mein noodles.
Neither dish was particularly spicy, and the individual flavors popped.
I succumbed to the sticky rice and mango ($3.95), one of my favorite Thai desserts. I shared a bite with a diner at the adjoining table, who enjoys Jack's but had never sampled Thai desserts. She was hooked. As always, the slices of fresh mango complemented the coconut milk-sweetened rice. MDP ordered green tea bread pudding ($3.95), an army-green-colored dessert that had a cake-like texture. Sweetness came from chocolate drizzled on the plate, rather than from the "pudding" itself. It was a first for us, and was both unusual and good.
Jack's Cafe is well worth the drive from the surrounding area for good meals, plentiful servings and low prices.
What: Jack's Cafe Address: 120 N. Main St., Bowling Green, across from government buildings. Phone: 804/633-2233 Hours: Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Friday, 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Prices:
Soups and salads: $2.95-$3.95
Desserts: $2.50-$3.95The Scoop: Pleasant and helpful service, and food cooked to order. Clean and unpretentious. Seats only 18. Takeout available. Owners are considering opening on one day of the weekend. Payment: Major credit cards accepted.