Sharing plates the old-fashioned way, with pub fare at Jack’s Grill

This week, 14850 Dining is enjoying the original sharing-plates cuisine — with big baskets of pub food at Jack’s Collegetown Grill. This Dryden Road eatery expanded into a next-door space a couple of years ago, offering a bar with big-screen TVs.

Big basket of bacon cheese fries at Jack's.

Big basket of bacon cheese fries at Jack’s.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with sharing small plates of fancy fare, but we’d rather watch the game with a big plate of nachos, onion rings, some wings, or a basket of cheese fries.

Jack’s Collegetown Grill has a revamped menu that still has all of those things, but they’ve added creative stuff like a sharable plate of fried chicken and waffles kicked up a notch with local chicken and their own fresh tasso gravy. Local BBQ pork belly deviled eggs. Or a Cali Melt grilled cheese with avocado and caramelized onions. And none of that bright orange goopy “cheese” on the fries or nachos; the cheddar sauce is made fresh right here from actual cheese.

Jack’s dates back to 2008, making good burgers and serving breakfast any time, but we love that the breakfast sandwiches and omelets now feature local eggs, and you have a choice of plain ol’ natural angus beef burgers or springing for local beef for an extra couple of bucks. Sharable sliders. Even two different kinds of veggie burgers.

Jack's Renegade Burger is one of their great combinations.

Jack’s Renegade Burger is one of their great combinations.

The meaty burgers start at just $5.49 with free toppings like lettuce, tomato, onion, and condiments, and you can add items such as local greens, bourbon BBQ sauce, avocado, crisp bacon, even pork belly or pulled pork, for 50¢ or a buck.

Jack’s has done a great job coming up with some combinations for us, though, like the Drunk Cowboy Burger, featuring that bourbon BBQ sauce with cheddar, hickory bacon, and fried onions. Or the Mac Daddy, with pulled pork and macaroni & cheese on top, along with their homemade cheddar cheese sauce and bacon jam. The Renegade Burger features fried chicken cracklin’ and cole slaw.

Waffle iron. Fried. Cheese.

Waffle iron. Fried. Cheese.

We’re also a little scared by the waffle-iron fried cheese. That’s cheese. Breaded. Fried in a waffle iron. You should probably try some.

Speaking of the waffle iron, the breakfast-any-time options include real Belgian waffles, served with powdered sugar, butter, and syrup — actual maple syrup for an extra buck.

Think of Jack’s as a satisfying lunch on the go. A place to watch the game with a friend and a pitcher of beer. Or as a diner that delivers.

Find Jack’s Collegetown Grill at 120 Dryden Road, or if you’d rather stay home, order online at jacksithaca.com or call 256-5225, and tell them you heard about them here.

For more, follow 14850 Dining on Facebook and Twitter or sign up for our newsletter.