SOMETIMES a restaurant has been there so long that it just becomes “part of the furniture.”
Not in a bad way - just like a comfy pair of slippers that you can always rely on to deliver just what you want at the time you need it.
In restaurant terms, Doncaster has a few that fit the bill - Carlo’s, San Remo and the Aagrah among others. Places that you can drop into, have a good meal with friends and family and leave satisfied and smiling with a full belly, knowing that you’ll always be guaranteed of great food and swift service.
And one more you can add to that list is Cactus Jacks.
It’s a place that has been perched halfway up Hall Gate for a fair few years now - a case of blink and you might miss it. But open your eyes (and your mouth) and you’ll be in for a treat.
For if, like me, you’ve not been for a few years, you’ve been missing out.
The premise at Cactus Jacks is simple - quality Tex-Mex food with a real taste of the Wild West thrown in - quirky, but without being kitsch.
The decor all adds to the sense of fun at Cactus Jacks. You’ll feel right at home - as long as you’re home on the range in the good ol’ US of A somewhere.
The ranch style wood panelling, the cowboy paraphenalia and life size figures, here there and everyhwere, wanted posters on the walls - it’s the kind of place you’d expect to walk into through swing doors, the piano player would stop player, the bar would fall eerily still and a shoot out would ensue.
There’s even a jail in the corner where you can enjoy your “last supper” behind bars - ideal for parties or those looking to inject an element of fun into a good nightb out.
And that’s not to mention the sweeping staircase which looks like it should have a Southern ma’am named Belle at the top beckoning sharpshooters through the doors!
But its the food where Cactus Jacks truly excels. The menu is just as you’d expect - whopping great steaks, fajitas, enchiladas, chilli - all the good and homely dishes you’d expect to deliver the taste of America (and Mexico too, of course). Indeed, a dining companion opined that the steaks were “the best in Doncaster.”
And although I was hungry and it seemed a good option, I went instead for a go-between - the chicken and steak fajitas, which, as its name suggests, was a comibination of two meats, served up on a sizzling platter (complete with the obligatory “be careful, it’s hot” warning from the waiter also stacked with hearty chunks of fresh vegetables such as peppers and onions.
The side platter of salsa and cream ensured no stone was left unturned - but I could have done with just a few more tortillas to pile the mounds of tender and tasty meat into, ending up as I did, scooping half of it directly from the platter.
That said, every mouthful was a spicy and succulent treat - the kind of plate that you struggle to empty. But empty it I did and me and my fellow dining “pardners” were truly satisfied with such a fantastic feast and its easy to see why it remains popular.
Why not drop in and say a big “Howdy!” You’ll be glad you did.
* Darren Burke