J. Alexander's at the St. Johns Town Center

by Erin Thursby
One of the newest culinary offerings in the St. Johns Town Center is J. Alexander’s. A steak at might be about $40 a la carte at some specialty steak places. Their ceiling is about $27. Their entrees in general go from about $9-27, with some of their steak offerings even hitting under $20. You might wonder how J. Alexander’s is able to offer what they do at such a reasonable price. The answer is satisfaction and volume. If they can get repeat customers, they can sell at a volume that allows for these low prices in a swanky atmo. That means that they focus on the customer so they’ll come back.
When it comes to steaks, one of the first things I noticed was the large size. Generally, when you order a 16 ounce steak, it’s not 16 ounces when it hits your plate. That’s because most places weigh the steak before it’s cooked, and a cooked steak generally loses weight in the process. At J. Alexander’s, they take this into account by cutting at least a half an ounce more. It isn’t your imagination–their steaks are larger. The finished product will always be at weight or possibly more.
They aren’t just about steak and great service. I sampled their gorgeous ahi tuna, sliced thin enough to be slightly translucent, shipped in daily.
In Jacksonville we take our crab cakes seriously and J. Alexander’s does as well. The biggest complaint most people have when it comes to crab cakes is an overabundance of bread crumbs and too little crab. The crab cakes at J. Alexander’s are exactly the opposite. They are pure crab, shaped into patties with panko bread crumbs browned on top.
On the cocktail front, you’ll pay just $8 for one of their specialty martinis. Since they don’t skimp, it also comes with a sidecar of said beverage, kept at your table on ice, till you’re ready to imbibe.
The wine selection is varied but it’s just one large page (on the back of their menu) so you don’t have to look through a 20 page tome of wine selections. More is not necessarily better. Even so, by my estimation they’ve got about 80-90 wines to choose from, each neatly placed into categories.
They don’t chef up or complicate comfort foods like their carrot cake. It’s just like mom used to make, as it should be. But the cheese cake is a bit fancied up (fine by me!)–with a huge shaving of Belgian white chocolate. It’s quite tasty and a bit more more moist and a little less dense than the typical New York style. The raspberry sauce was a bit loud, but the good news is that it’s not poured over the slice, so you can choose to use as little or as much as you’d like.
The only item that I outright didn’t like was their creme brulee, and that’s because I’m a purist when it comes to the dessert. It lacked the sugar glass top to crack through and was served in a massive soup bowl. It satisfies most of their customers, but it wasn’t to my taste. The server was very gracious about that– so they actually won points because of it.
Finding parking near an entrance can be a trial in the massive Town Center, so if you plan to eat at J. Alexander’s post or pre-shopping, you’ll be happy to know that they offer free valet service when you eat there. While J. Alexander’s is a decent deal without coupons, in this economy an even better deal is always best! You can buy gift certificates at half price from WBOB by calling 470-4615. So you’ll spend $25 on a J. Alexander’s gift certificate for $50. Listen to The First Coast Showcase
Fridays at 5 pm on AM1320 & 103.7FM News Talk Radio (103.7FM Jax Beaches) for more deals like these.