Variety is the Spice of Life

. November 19, 2019.
Light and crispy fried pickles, served with an addictive spicy mayo.
Light and crispy fried pickles, served with an addictive spicy mayo.

The Mason Jar Tap & Grill owner, Mike Thorn, has experienced quite a journey before landing on the “5-star food at small-town prices” that the restaurant’s current— and highly successful— concept boasts. The West Texas native has opened a handful of restaurants in the past, including the upscale Jeffrey’s and a Tex-Mex eatery. The newest venture, The Mason Jar, gives their talented chef, Max Schornack, the chance to offer a menu that reflects the diverse cuisine that he is known for.

The Mason Jar Tap & Grill offers the rare culinary sweet spot where elevated dining meets unpretentious pub fare. If you want something healthy and delicious, you can have a classy seafood meal with roasted veggies, or, if you have a yearning for something a bit heavier, fried pickles, fish and chips, and the like will satisfy. On a recent visit, my dining partner and I represented a mix of both camps— we would try hearty winter vegetables and greens, but also indulge in the warm comfort food that an unseasonably cold and snowy November evening called for. We weren’t disappointed.

Starters & Drinks

We started with a glass of house Cab and a Grand Armory Wheezin Juice New England IPA for my craft-beer loving partner. To accompany the drinks we ordered two very different (but equally satisfying) appetizers: fried pickles and the harvest-inspired “Warm Jumble.”

The aptly named Warm Jumble, a mixture of Brussels sprouts, butternut squash, spinach, bacon, and Honeycrisp apples, drizzled with a maple balsamic glaze, was served in a cute miniature baking dish. A nice mixture of sweet and savory, the flavor of the apples and maple kept things interesting, adding variety to the root vegetables.

The fried pickles, which I generally find to be an unexceptional snack, surprised me with a nice crunch— not typical in my limited exposure to fried pickles — with breading that is light and crispy, served with an addictive spicy mayo.

The weekly $5 burger special, offered on Tuesday, is a popular (and tasty) deal.

The weekly $5 burger special, offered on Tuesday, is a popular (and tasty) deal.

$5 burger night

A pint of peanut butter porter was the right choice to accompany the $5 burger (normally $12), a discount that likely added to the bustling atmosphere. The burger arrived with an amazing side of garlic parmesan fries served in a rustic little bucket. Despite being quoted a wait of 25 minutes, it was no more than 20— not too bad considering the crowd! Those on a tight schedule may want to wait until after 7:30pm on a Tuesday night as the weekly $5 burger special is quite popular with the Mason Jar regulars.

The spice of life

The blackened chicken mac— large pasta shells baked in a creamy white sauce and topped with spicy chunks of chicken nestled under a layer of decadent, bubbling baked cheese is a bit on the spicy side, but it’s the chicken itself that is more heavily seasoned. If you want a less concentrated kick, mixing it together before digging in really did the trick. The dish was the perfect thing for a cold, wintery night, and there will be many of those in the coming months.

What was most pronounced at The Mason Jar was the atmosphere— a cozy, warm ambiance staffed with friendly folks— and the variety on the menu. It’s not an easy feat to offer grilled seafood, flatbread pizzas, fried options, and pasta varieties, while still managing to do it well. The Mason Jar is able to pull it off, and we are already planning for a return visit to explore the menu further.

Hours vary | Open seven days a week
The Mason Jar Tap & Grill,
8504 Secor Rd., Lambertville, MI.
734-854-8737 | masonjartapandgrill.com