Jonathan's is now closed
I get so giddy whenever I pass by the High St. block (just South of the court house), I want to shout from the Elsinore's rooftop. It's proof of what can happen when people take a risk and leap at an opportunity--and do it well.
What a great response to my request for date night ideas! Since we were already downtown to check-out the Gilgamesh Brewery festivities at Venti's, we decided to follow the tip from an email suggesting we give Jonathan's a try. N and I have talked about it several times, but we wanted to give them plenty of time to get their act together.
We left our mild Spring evening stroll and pushed open Jonathan's door sometime around 7:30 PM. The hostess, just like every member of the crew, greeted us warmly and led us to a booth. N mentioned how impressed he was with their sound system as we listened to the quality of the classical guitar solo. The dining room interior has a warm, comfortable, yet formal feeling. A nice touch we noticed was the mini-mag light hanging on a wall hook in our booth to help read the menu in the romantic lighting.
N chose a bottle of Big Fire, Pinot Gris for $15 from the wine specials menu. Our waiter, Dave, said they were in the process of clearing out their wine shelves for new arrivals. I could taste a hint of pear in my glass of chilled, clean, crisp wine. Nice choice, N! After listening to the description of that day's special, I no longer wanted the same entree as N. The special was a Panko covered fillet of salmon, topped with thin slices of sweet, toasted pecans, nestled on fluffy garlic mashers with sautéed green beans, onion and red pepper slivers. N's entrée was broiled halibut--stuffed with Dungeness crab and wrapped in bacon, served with roasted garlic mashed potatoes and green beans.
As we enjoyed our bread and salads, the tables around us began to fill with late diners--from the Elsinore Theater, perhaps? After a short wait, our plates arrived--no rushed or neglected feeling. Just right, as it should be. The Panko coating added a crunchy texture to the moist, flaky, salmon fillet. The toasted pecans were a wonderful compliment, as well as the roasted garlic mashed potatoes. The side of young, green beans was flavorful with a slight crunch.
After the two of us had finished lingering and savoring this special meal, Dave asked if we were interested in sharing a dessert. When he described the Hula Pie's attributes, it piqued my interest. "You've got to be kidding!", is what popped out of my mouth at the sight of our share of Hula Pie. It was enormous, big enough to share with 4-5 friends. We enjoyed as much as was sensible of the ice creamy goodness and cookie crust and then dropped our spoons to prevent total obliteration.
Remember that mild Spring evening stroll that brought us to Jonathan's? It had been replaced by a cloud burst. Where did we park?? We laughed and puddle jumped all the way back to Court and Front, and then bid good-bye to another date night.

Just received this in an email from owner Casey:  "Not sure if you get the Statesman Journal, but this Sunday we had an insert in the newspaper along with Allessandro's, Caruso's and Morton's. Tonight and until May 7th each of our restaurants are offering dinner for two for $39.00. Our menu for the special is:
One Oyster Shooter for each guest.  

Choice of soup or salad for each guest.
Choice of our 8 oz Certified Angus Top Sirloin steak or Wild Salmon for each guest.
Our Homemade Marion Berry Cobbler with a scoop of Vanilla Ice cream to share.
All for $39.00. A savings of about $10.00 off our regular price."

Mon.- Thurs: 11am - 10 pm
Fri: 11am - midnight
Sat: 4pm  -midnight
Sun - Closed
503 689-1051
136 High St SE
Salem, OR 97301


Chuck Braldy said...

Lunched at Jonathan's last week.Their lunch special was a BBQ prime rib sandwich. My server, a very pleasant, attentive young fellow, did such a good job of describing it I decided to give it a try. (Note: Have you ever noticed the technique a good server uses of swallowing while describing their specials as if just thinking about them makes them salivate? Subliminal but effective!) It was served on a sour dough roll with bacon, cheddar cheese and mushrooms. Fantastic! It came with delicious battered French fries. Yes, they have malt vinegar. This was my first time at the new location under new ownership. All in all a very positive experience.

Anonymous said...

I was impressed by the food but the decor in the dining area, and layout, is unfortunately all too typical of Salem. Does not appear to be well thought out at all. The bathroom door swings right into the booth adjacent, it's dismally dark and lacks any sort of defining aesthetic. I think it's part of the reason why La Capitale is doing so well. People just like the feel of the place.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, I heard someone recently say something very similar about La Cap. Nice to have a variety of restaurants with so many different preferences.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm... When I went to this restaurant, I was thinking about the older building and how the colors and the layout were tasteful and very fitting for what probably could have been a classy restaurant in the first heydays of this building. It works just as well as this building and block are beginning to see a second heyday. I like La Cap. but think Jonathan's is a good addition to this area.

Casey Lucas said...

We are continually striving to make Jonathan's better and I love constructive criticism. We are currently looking at options not only for the lighting in the dining area, but sound deadening as well. Most of our customer feedback has hit on both the lighting and the noise level that reaches high levels on a busy night.
Thank you for taking the time to give us feedback, I truly appreciate it.
Best Regards,
Casey Lucas

Anonymous said...

Casey I sincerely hope you're reading this. My boss takes her employees out to dinner every year as a Christmas celebration. This year I told her we should go to Jonathan's after reading so much about it here. Our reservation was for 8 p.m. I found myself circling the block numerous times in the rain to find parking. I never gave a thought to the fact that you share the street parking w/ La capitale, Andaluz and The Elsinore. Is there a lot behind the restaurant? The 4 of us ordered our drinks and 2 appetizers. The server returned in about 10 minutes to say she was out of Beck's beer for my boss's husband so he made another choice. When the appetizers arrived I was very disappointed by the calamari, it appeared to be small in quantity like a bar plate and didn't look or taste like hand breaded calamari as the menu stated. When we ordered dinner the server informed us that she was out of 3 out of the 4 steaks on the dinner menu as well as the baked potato. Of course my boss's husband and a co-worker had their hearts set on steak and bakers. After a bit of discussion our party of 4 decided that being out of so many things at 8 p.m. on a Saturday night was unacceptable. It put a damper on what could have been an enjoyable experience. We paid our bill of $50 and decided to go to another locally owned restaurant for dinner and a bottle of wine where we spent over $100. I sincerely hope things change at Jonathan's, because we don't plan to return again at this point.

Casey M Lucas said...

Anonymous, I remember seating your party when you arrived. I believe you were waiting on one person to join the three of you, I am assuming your boss?
I will try and respond to your questions/concerns:
Parking can be difficult for any of the restaurants on High Street, especially when there is a show at the Elsinore. This particular night, The Children's Nutcracker was playing. Another problem we, being the restaurants on High Street, encounter on Saturday's is that there is no parking enforcement. Therefore we see many people parking in front of our business' and walking over to Liberty St. etc, to do there shopping, since they have no time limit to adhere to on our street.
There is a parking lot behind our restaurants in the Wells Fargo parking lot that many people do use when they cannot find parking on the street. I do apologize for the inconvenience, but there is little that we are able to do regarding this.
In regards to us being out of bake potatoes and three out of the four steaks on our menu at the time you placed your order, I do sincerely apologize. We have no way of knowing how many steaks we will serve in one night and we order fresh meat/seafood throughout the week as to not freeze any of our main entrees. Over the course of this past Friday and Saturday night we served over 300 dinners between the two nights and had served over 150 dinners by 7:30 pm on Saturday night. It's hard to gauge how much of any one item we will sell. Being a fish house, we typically sell a lot more seafood, but this past Saturday night we had a large Christmas party upstairs and just about everyone ordered steak.
As for the Calamari, we do hand cut the calamari strip from calamari steaks and bread them ourselves. I am sorry they were not to your liking.
I hope that you consider giving us another try in the near future and I wish you and your friends only the best this Christmas season.

Casey M Lucas

Chuck Bradley said...

To complain about the lack of parking, downtown, two weeks before Christmas, to me, seems silly in the extreme. Of course it’s a problem!

The above poster’s party did hit an extremely unusual number of “We’re out of that’s” in their Jonathon’s visit. Perhaps more than is acceptable. But think about the balancing act necessary to offer fresh daily food without excessive waste. With soaring food costs, a restaurant can’t afford to throw much out. There are two obvious solutions to this problem. The first being, buy for your anticipated need (far from an exact undertaking) for a specific freshness time frame. And the second, buy more than your anticipated need, exceed the freshness time frame and serve it anyway. I would rather make another selection than wonder how long the components of my meal have been moldering in the pantry. A place that never runs out of anything is suspect.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your reply Casey. No, the party was actually waiting for me because I was looking for parking. I agree that a show at the Elsinore probably made the parking situation bad. Of course I had no idea there was a show that night. I was not complaining to you about the lack of parking, I merely said, "I never gave a thought to the fact that you share the street parking w/ La Capitale, Andaluz and The Elsinore. Being in the restaurant business 40 years myself I understand soaring food costs and anticipated need. We usually up our grocery list when we have an anticipated need (such as in your case and all in the same night a popular Christmas show at the Elsinore and a large Christmas party for which I would have had them all pre-order so as to accommodate the anticipated need). When we were seated I looked around the dinning room as I pondered the 86'd menu items and thought to myself the restaurant didn't appear to be busy. There were at least 3 empty tables in a dinning room that appeared to have around 10 tables (I'm guessing here) and there was no wait or line like you see at other restaurants in some areas of town). I also didn't notice any parties seated while we were there. We left close to 9 p.m. and one party was just entering as we left.

Anonymous said...

Given the fact that it was two weeks before Christmas, and that they had a large Christmas party coming in and that the Elsinore was showing Children's Nutcracker what I would expect to be a very popular show, I would think Jonathan's would have beefed up their order. No pun intended :)

Anonymous said...

I too have gone into a restaurant at 8 or later and had several items no longer available on their menu. Made sense to me.

Anonymous said...

The food here is superior. Try the crab cakes. I haven't had anything but bar menu items, but they were all excellent. The crab cakes...did I mention the crab cakes?

jamie said...

You are correct. The crab cakes were great. The server was friendly, if a bit sheepish about giving us the news that all cuts of steak aside from top sirloin were unavailable. As well as the baked potatoes and garlic mashed. I'll do just about anything for mashed potatoes, but I could live forever without eating another french fry. This is why we decided to move on.I am aware of how hard it is to anticipate how much perishable product to have on hand. You make the best guess possible. Maybe throw some more bakers in when you see your running low? It was an enjoyable evening. Kind of like a progressive dinner you might say. We spent our money in local establishments. I'll most likely give Johnathans another try. To be honest, I prefer to go out on week nights rather than weekends. You can get to know the staff that way and get a better sense of place.