I was out exploring east of Jacksonville and found myself in Emerald Isle at lunch time. It was actually pretty late for lunch and I was hungry enough to gnaw my own arm off at the elbow. Against my better judgment, I picked a place that I had never heard of, Jordan’s House of Seafood.
In my experience, these beach places both here and in my native Florida, seem to rely on their location for their business continuity. They know that they have a fairly large, ever changing captive audience of diners and they also know that that body of diners will continue to return no matter how mediocre the food is.
Jordan's House of Seafood (354-5722) is an unassuming establishment on the main drag in Emerald Isle. The location is convenient - look for parking in the back. The furnishings and decor are basic.
I was seated quickly and offered a menu and a beverage. Shortly after I was seated, I was presented with a small basket of hushpuppies – small extruded bread hinting of cornmeal, freshly fried. They were perfectly fried and rather sweet, not at all greasy. Although famished, I tried to stay out of those.
I was disappointed that the steamed clams and mussels that were posted on the specials board were not available until after 5pm, but I turned to the menu for my selection. The menu here is quite limited, which is actually a good sign. I’d rather see a limited range of offerings with similar preparations because I figure if they are only doing so many different kinds of preparations they probably get pretty good at them.
What you won’t find on this menu:
Salads – aside from the house and two chef salads on the appetizer menu, a side of coleslaw is as close as you will get. This isn’t a salad dinner place.
Raw bar – there is no raw bar here, which seems to be typical of the area.
Pasta – I didn’t see any pasta on the menu.
What you will find on the menu:
Wine by the glass $4.25, which is a bargain if it is drinkable. Beer from $2.50 to $3.50 per bottle. A few house liquors.
The standard non-alcoholic drink offerings and a few “mocktails.”
A selection of sandwiches, chicken and “turf” dishes.
Appetizers – includes the usual suspects.
Vegetables – a listing of vegetable side dishes typical of a good diner.
Pizza – why? I don’t know, but there it is.
The bulk of the menu is given to “Dinners From the Sea” and “Combination Dinners.” These range in price from $2.75 for a side order of deviled crab to a high of $23.50 for the Jordan’s House Special (shrimp, fish, crab, scallops & clam strips). These can all be had fried, broiled or “panned in butte” and come with a choice of two sides.
I opted for the shrimpburger with a side of fries, $6.25 & $2.00. The shrimp “burger” consists of fried shrimp presented on a hamburger bun in a traditional manner for hamburgers. The shrimp were small but plentiful, lightly breaded and perfectly fried. The fries were similarly well prepared. There are condiments on the table – tartar sauce, catsup and hot sauce, to dress your sandwich as you like it. The hamburger bun was a thoroughly unremarkable hamburger bun, but I wouldn’t expect artisan bread in this setting, and when the shrimp are done right, who needs it?
This is my only visit to Jordan’s to date, but if the quality/quantity/price relationships I experienced are typical of Jordan’s, it’s a great find. There is a finely practiced touch involved when the kitchen can turn out great fried items that are not overcooked and not at all greasy. I will definitely head back at night some time for a run at those steamed items or maybe the Jordan’s House Special.