Delaware Today magazine Savor dining review: A review by dining critic Matt Amis of upscale restaurants at the Christiana Mall near Newark, including Brio Tuscan Grille, JB Dawson’s and Nordstrom Sixth & Pine
Going Uptown: The Christiana Mall is transformed into an upscale dining destination.
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Just outside the mall-proper is JB Dawson’s, a spacious, soaring grillhouse whose base of operations is Reading, Pa.
This is the third JB’s location, and it looks mighty impressive—the decor is all American beef, with swooping plank ceilings, stone walls and oversized crimson booths. There’s track lighting and oldies piping through the house speakers.
JB’s specialty is simple and inviting pub food. With an almost scary precision, the open kitchen pumps out reliable American fare like spinach-artichoke dip, cheeseburgers, steaks and ribs.
It’s all the stick-to-your-ribness you’ll need this month, as a few excellent dishes I sampled attested. A muted spice rub enlivened my delectable 12-ounce strip and brought out an extra swash of juiciness. The accompanying creamed spinach? Oozy, salty therapy from the crunch of shopping crowds.
Sadly, Dawson’s subscribes to another American tradition: overindulgence. Surely those Cajun shrimp skewers could do without the Texas toast and the creamy garlic-butter dipping sauce, and customers would survive the bread basket without the brown sugar-maple butter. (And I won’t even go into the flat-screen TVs in the restroom.)
Such rich proportions wouldn’t be a problem if the food wasn’t so often pallid and off-putting. JB’s prized Danish baby back ribs were smoky-sweet, but their meat was overly unctuous from too much time in the oven, and fell from the bone in mushy hunks. The smoky aroma was more Marlboro red than applewood.
Dawson’s fulfills a need for mall-goers’ traditional appetites, but a little restraint and tact would go a long way. When our charming waitress came around for dessert orders, she was met with only doleful eyes.
“Does anyone ever even make it to dessert?” I asked.
Nope, she said, but the trick is to order them to-go. Dessert had to wait for next time. First we needed a few laps around the mall to regain a heart rate.
Page 4: Brio Tuscan Grille