While it may seem like there are tons of dining options at Crabtree, to me it is all a little same-old, same-old. So when I heard that J. Alexander’s was now open right behind the mall, I thought it would be a very welcomed new addition. The restaurant offers a diverse menu, with a bit more of an upscale feel than most other dining options at the mall.
When you walk into J. Alexander’s you’re greeted by a beautiful entrance and a dimly lit restaurant that is sure to set the mood. While my date and I were seated in a comfy booth, we noticed that the chairs at the other tables looked exceptionally comfortable as well. This might sound like a silly thing to notice, but I can certainly appreciate a comfy chair, and being uncomfortable throughout the meal can really harsh the mood. As we looked over the menu we noticed that the options were extremely diverse; J. Alexander’s offers everything from queso dip, to sushi, to burgers. For an appetizer, we decided to go with the Mexico City Spinach con Queso ($11.95), because honestly queso is something I just can’t resist. I definitely think we made the right decision. The queso was hot and perfectly creamy. Sometimes I think queso can be a little too strong of a cheese flavor, rather than a creamy flavor (if that makes sense?), that was certainly not the case here. The texture and flavor were perfect, and the small pieces of chopped spinach added a nice, subtle flavor as well. The serving size was pretty large, but we had no problem scarfing it all down.
Our server helped us out a lot by telling us his favorite, and some of the most popular, items in each menu category (Sushi, Salads, Burgers/Sandwiches, Steak, and Specialties), since we were having a hard time choosing what we wanted. In the end, I went with the Carolina Crab Cakes (price varies), which were served with a huge portion of fries and seasonal veggies, which was roasted spinach. The server described the crab cakes as having some breadcrumbs, but being almost entirely crab, unlike some that you might get at other restaurants. He was definitely right. The outside of the cakes were breaded and crispy, and topped with a chili mayo and mustard sauce, but the inside of the cakes were pretty much all crab, with no other fillers getting in the way of the taste or texture. I really enjoyed this entrée and I loved the way the crab paired with the sauces that it was served with. The cakes were a very decent size, especially when eaten with the huge side portions, so I ended up saving one of the two to take home with me and munch on the next day.
My date decided to go with the Barbecue Baby Back Ribs ($24.95), which he ate with fries and Mac & Cheese. The ribs were brushed with Plum Creek BBQ Sauce and were truly fall-off-the-bone. He loved them, and even though he didn’t think he’d be able to eat it all, he ended up finding a way. We did end up taking home a good amount of fries and Mac & Cheese, though. We finished up our meal with some Key Lime Pie, which was the perfect refreshing treat. The slice was giant and had a very generous graham cracker crust, which I’m a fan of. Again, we ended up taking about half of the piece home, but we may or may not have finished it off about an hour later once we had digested a little.
My date and I thoroughly enjoyed our meal at J.Alexander’s. While they have a bit more of an upscale price, the portions are more than worth what you pay. The menu offers a large variety of options, so I think everyone could find something they would enjoy. I think that J. Alexander’s will make a great addition to the dining options at Crabtree.
Note: From time to time we’re invited out to try a restaurant or to try certain products. This meal or items are usually comped, as these was. We’re under no obligation to write a positive review or any review at all when we’re invited out to try a place. Every review you see on our site will be an honest review of the place whether or not the restaurant provided us with the meal at their cost.
Melissa Guido is currently a dietetic intern in the Triangle area. She studied nutrition at NC State and Meredith College. Her favorite part about nutrition is showing people that healthy food can be exciting and delicious. Melissa loves traveling and learning about how food fits into different cultures. In her free time she loves trying new restaurants, cooking, and obsessing over her dogs. Follow her on Instagram @made2order and at www.madeorder.wordpress.com.