Award-Winning Chef Creates Award-Winning Food
When a restaurant’s executive chef is named a semi-finalist for best star chef in the prestigious James Beard Awards, you get a pretty good feeling that the food is above-average. Hearing the news that Chef Alex Eaton, owner of Jackson’s The Manship Wood Fired Kitchen, had been named a semi-finalist in the annual award honoring the nation’s best chefs was not surprising. After all, Eaton was named America’s Great American Seafood King after winning the 2016 national cook-off. Since 2013, The Manship has gained a reputation for Eaton’s creative food billed as the “essence of Mediterranean food with a Southern flair.”
Combine fresh, creative food made with seasonal ingredients with a modern, yet cozy atmosphere in the heart of Jackson’s historic Belhaven neighborhood and you’ve got all the makings of a memorable dining experience. The Manship serves brunch, lunch, and dinner, but in the interest of brevity, I’ll focus on the lunch menu. It’s packed with an array of salads, sandwiches, small plates, soups, pizzas, wood-fired specialty dishes, and daily specials.
One of my favorite small plates is smoked tuna dip with saltines ($7/$14). Another frequent selection is crab beignets served with creole coleslaw and smoked tomato tartar ($14). Other choices are duck wings ($9/$15), pork belly with rice grits, maple glaze, pickles, and onions ($14), and warm barrata ($11) with pepperonata, basil, and balsamic croustini.
If a sandwich lunch is on your agenda, you’ve come to the right place. You won’t go wrong with The Manship Burger ($14) composed of a wood-grilled Angus beef patty, gruyere cheese, lettuce, pickled onion, and other dressings. It’s thick, juicy, and delicious. Others from which to choose are the short rib melt ($12), fully-dressed shrimp or catfish poboy topped with tangy remoulade sauce and blackened redfish wrap ($12).
A lighter lunch can be just as satisfying, especially if you choose one of The Manship’s creative salads or savory soups. These include the wedge ($8/$13), which can be topped with wood-grilled chicken, shrimp, salmon or smoked tuna dip for an addition $5-$8, Caesar ($8) and gumbo ($5/$8).
Just as I often do, I change my menu selection after seeing a neighboring diner’s order arrive. Such as the case the last time I visited The Manship with the idea of ordering one thing, then switched gears when I saw (and smelled) a wood-fired pizza being placed on a nearby table.
The Manship’s wood-fired pizzas are well beyond the ordinary pie served as most restaurants. Each one is filled with fresh, seasonal ingredients, homemade sauce and is wood-fired to a crispy, golden deliciousness. There’s the tomato, mozzarella, and basil ($10), which can be enhanced with pepperoni, chicken, sausage or egg, barbecue chicken ($12), vegetable topped with Brussels sprouts, pesto, spinach, onion, olive, and tomatoes ($13) and mushroom ($14) filled with béchamel sauce, eggs, pancetta, onions, cheese, and truffle oil.
In the mood for a full meal? Then you’ve come to the perfect place. The Manship’s wood-fired specialties include the succulent beef tenderloin kabob ($15), Greek-style or barbecue chicken ($12/$18), redfish ($23), fried or blackened catfish ($12), grilled salmon ($15), lasagna ($16), vegetable plate ($14) and linguine with shrimp, garlic, chili, and olive oil ($16).
Daily special rotate throughout the week and include country fried steak with onion gravy, mashed potatoes and another side ($12), fried chicken with choice of side ($10), chicken enchiladas with salad or side ($12), short rib ragu with Parmesan rice grits ($12) and fish tacos with Creole cole slaw ($12).
Sides are $4 extra and include braised greens, broccolini, beets, sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts and pancetta, mac and cheese with pancetta, and shoestring fries, among others.
The dinner menu is a little more extensive and brunch includes Huevos Rancheros ($12) and fried chicken and waffles ($14), among numerous other delicacies. But don’t worry. Anytime you visit The Manship, you’re guaranteed extraordinary food and excellent service.