A friend told us about Jac’s Bakeshop and Bistro in Hicksville, so my husband and I went to check it out one warm, sunny Saturday afternoon. As we were standing online waiting to order paninis, I drifted off staring at the armoire that contained cook books next to the wall. I didn’t hear anything until the world came into focus again and I just heard the remainder of my husband’s sentence “…so I’m ordering the cat.” I got a mental image of a gray tiger-striped cat with a fluffy tail. Alarmed, I asked him, “What are you ordering?” He said, “The Kat. Look.” There it was on the menu, a panini named after a Katherine.
Relieved, I was impressed with the combination. The Kat panini is filled with smoked Gouda cheese, roasted chicken, roasted peppers and pesto sauce–and divine. The chicken has this delicate quality and is sliced thin. Jac’s doesn’t use cold cuts. I got this on their roll, which has a crispy on the outside, yet soft inside quality. This is totally comfort food, but it’s refreshing. What’s also refreshing is the price. Jac’s offers certified gluten-free food, which is rare for restaurants, with many organic ingredients for what you would pay for a sandwich at a gluten-laden, greasy deli.
They also have cake…vegan paleo clusters, banana bread that is delectably moist, croissants, and yes, s’mores cookies (with marshmallow filling). Their banana bread has this gingerbread quality, but is incredibly soft. And apparently on weekends they serve breakfast all day. Yes, this is where I go when I can’t stand to look at my kitchen. I go, order my panini and sit at one of their tables fantasizing about a whole world full of certified gluten-free restaurants. No I don’t dream of expensive cars or luxurious vacations. I dream of a place where I can eat out worry-free again. The owner of Jac’s is clearly a brave pioneer who certified her restaurant. She informed me that certification means random tests a few times a week. Though that sounds challenging, I certainly hope this catches on.
You would think a place like this has a very limited menu, but I honestly have probably tried 1/6 of their dishes despite repeat visits. Glancing at their menu, they seem to have hundreds of options. People just drop by, some oblivious that they’re eating gluten-free, others come simply because the food is good or because Jac’s doesn’t take short cuts by serving cold cuts. Ah, the beauty of people simple sitting and eating together. The murmur of voices can be heard and I have to guess which ones are the gluten intolerant or celiacs. Here it doesn’t matter.
As a child I remember every Christmas an aunt would buy Italian Rainbow Cookie Cake cut into squares. It was chalky, brittle and tasted like it was soaked in perfume then dried in the sun for 5 days. Since then I hated it. I always avoided it at bakeries. And this was the “normal” wheat version. But Jac’s makes this cake fluffy, delicate, moist and gluten-free with what seems to be a hint of anisette. It’s my favorite cake from Jac’s (ok banana bread comes close). I also personally like that Jac’s cake doesn’t glow in unnatural neon colors like some artificial, store-bought ones. I like my food to really look like…food.
In fact, nothing at Jac’s glows unnaturally. The large dining area feels homey with wooden tables and country-retro touches. I like sitting there relieved that I don’t have to worry over what I’m eating.
If you want to visit Jac’s, they are located at 600 S. Oyster Bay Rd. Hicksville, NY 11801 or call (516) 931-8600.