Review By: Stefanie Parks –
Ever since NY Mag’s “Eat Cheap” issue came out, Jack’s Wife Freda has been on my radar and most definitely on my list. Though I was never really sure how to classify their very interesting menu (MenuPages says it’s American, though I’m not sure if that’s accurate), all I knew was that everything (especially their brunch menu) looked delicious.
We had friends in town for the weekend who wanted to do some shopping in SoHo during the day on Saturday, so we figured that Jack’s Wife Freda would be a perfect brunch spot. Our friends headed downtown early to get in a little extra shopping time and headed over to the restaurant about an hour before we got there to scope out the situation and put our names down. We thought there would be at least an hour wait, but much to our surprise, they were able to get right in.
By the time we got there, the small restaurant was starting to really fill up. We squirmed our way into our table (it was a little tight in there), and since we already knew that we would be ordering the House Cured Duck Bacon and the Peri-Peri Sweetbreads for the table, we put our order in for those right away. The duck bacon wasn’t at all what I was expecting. What was I expecting you ask? Well, something that tasted like bacon. This did not. They weren’t crispy or salty, they just tasted like pieces of duck meat. They were good, but they were no bacon. The peri-peri sweetbreads on the other hand, were amazing. Peri-Peri, also known as African bird’s eye chili, I just learned, is similar to a Thai chili and is found in Africa. The sweetbreads came in a peri-peri sauce (I don’t think I’ve ever had sweetbreads that come in sauce before) and the combination of the two was just awesome. It also came with great bread for dipping, which is always a plus.
Once we were finished with our appetizers, Dave and I decided to share the Green Shakshuka (2 poached eggs in a green shakshuka served with challah toast) and the Smoked Paprika Egg Salad Sandwich with feta, roasted red pepper, and watercress on focaccia. We had no idea what shakshuka was, but learned that it’s an Israeli dish of poached eggs, typically in a spicy tomato sauce, but in this case it was in a tomatillo sauce. It was delicious and came with awesome challah on the side to use for dipping. It was a dish unlike anything I’ve ever had before, which I loved. The egg salad was awesome too. It tasted similar to deviled eggs (thanks to the Paprika) and came with really good fries on the side. I don’t love roasted red pepper, so I could have done without that, but that was an easy fix… I do LOVE feta though, and can’t say I’ve ever had feta on an egg salad sandwich.
Not only were all of the dishes really great, each of them was also very different from anything that I’ve had before. I left feeling very satisfied, but also not painfully full, which is how I sometimes feel after a big brunch. The best part of the meal (well, besides the awesome food AND the fact that I still had another ridiculous meal to look forward to later that night) was the cute post card that came with the bill and told the story behind the restaurant and the name. If you’re curious about what it said, you’ll just have to go in there and find out for yourself!