There’s a feeling of unquenched dissatisfaction with life when you’re craving a very particular entrée and you have no idea where you might find it.
In our case, we’d been drooling over dreams of a hot plate of golden brown fried chicken (not chicken tenders, mind you) with a side of garlic-y mashed potatoes slathered in gravy. The ultimate carb-heaped comfort food.
The problem was finding a place that would serve up, in what we considered at that hunger-crazed point, our ultimate food fantasy. So, after a morning of running errands in Cortez, we decided that if anywhere was going to dish out fried food lust, it was gonna be a place with a name like Jack & Janelle’s Country Kitchen.
Now, in case you’ve never heard of this hole-in-the-wall eatery, it’s located just off Main Street. Be mindful when looking for it though. It’s easy to miss. We made the mistake of flying right past it and had to turn around in a nearby RV park.
When we stepped into Jack and Janelle’s, the humble Americana diner was just as one might picture a modest, small-town restaurant serving up whatever country food yearnings you might have. It had the down-home feeling of actually stepping into someone’s kitchen.
Jack & Janelle’s menu is a vast landscape of simple country comfort food, along with soups, salads, and sandwiches. Their signature dishes include country fried steak (which also comes gluten-free), grilled salmon, and club salad. There’s a salad bar at the center of the diner for those of you wishing to switch the French fries with a healthier option.
Our server was quick to seat us and take our order, as she could tell we were starving, and it wasn’t long before she was merrily bringing out our plates. Our table went with a plate of delightfully crispy onion rings, a Reuben sandwich, and, of course, a massive plate of fried chicken smothered in gravy along with a side of mashed potatoes and squash. If you’re not going to load up on carbs when you go out to eat, what, we ask, are you doing with your life?
The onion rings were our favorite aspect of that afternoon’s lunch. The rings, dipped in tempura-style batter, were light and crispy, not weighed down with too much oil and breading, which could be a positive or negative depending on what kind of mood you’re in.
Our companion got one of the largest servings of fried chicken we’ve laid eyes on. It was fried in cornmeal breading and covered in homemade white sausage gravy, which we would argue actually belongs on breakfast biscuits. Our companion is more of a traditional breading kinda Southern gal herself, but was mostly just relieved to finally discover a restaurant that didn’t define fried chicken as chicken tenders. Although not a fan of squash as a side dish, she had nothing negative to say about the potatoes. Just lumpy enough, and she was pleased to find how fresh they tasted.
The Reuben sandwich was smothered in Swiss cheese (which is always a positive in our book), along with corned beef and Sauerkraut on grilled Rye bread with a side of Russian dressing. An American classic sandwich that’s pretty difficult to screw up. The ingredients on this one all melded together in perfect harmony, though we would have preferred the bread be a bit less crispy, as the dry texture felt intrusive to the rest of the sandwich’s saturated insides. With the heaping helping of corned beef covered in melted Swiss cheese and Sauerkraut to give a sour kick, the slabs of bread just couldn’t keep up.
As you know, nothing fills you up quite like country food carbs, so it was difficult to keep our eyes open as we made our way to the front to pay, sleepy but satisfied. Jack & Janelle’s scratched our country fried chicken itch.
Amanda PushJack & Janelle’s Country Kitchen is located at 801 East Main Street, Cortez. Visit them at jackandjanelles.com or call 970-565-2572 for more information.