- 4500 I-55 North Suite 142, Jackson, MS, 39211
- Overall User Rating:
- (1 rating)
- Mon-Fri: 10:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Fri-Sat: 10:30 a.m.- 10 p.m. Sun: 10 a.m.-9 p.m.
- Official Web Site:
Nightlife denizens of northeast Jackson make tracks for Highland Village. Yes, it’s hard to believe that the upscale shopping paradise for soccer moms could also be a great place for late-night libations.
But Highland Village has two excellent restaurants that double as hip bars for two mostly different crowds. While Julep caters to the young, colorful, 20-to-30-something set, the nearby Char is a bit more timeless and attracts a more, shall we say, experienced group.
These are not hard-and-fast rules, though, and you’ll certainly see all ages (over 21, of course) taking advantage of Char’s brand of social lubrication. The best part is, of course, the piano – but more on that in a moment.
The drinks: Char’s strengths definitely lie with the harder stuff. There’s a full and very elegant bar with about 80 different wines and an interesting selection of cognacs, liqueurs, and martinis.
Beer, on the other hand, can’t even compete with a local sports bar, with mostly mass-produced domestics and three imports (Newcastle, Heineken, and Amstel Light). Also, the night we visited, the beer taps were broken. This anti-suds bias is a disappointment given the excellent selection of liquors and wines.
The decor: The emphasis is firmly on dark wood tones that conjure images of cigars and fireplaces. Actually, you may smell actual smoke (the Char bar is stogie-friendly).
The piano playing helps lock-in the old-time mood; local aces Jimmy Jarratt and Larry Addison alternate shifts on the stool throughout the week. The Raphael Semmes Trio also plays jazz for Sunday brunch.
A plasma TV hangs on the wall to pacify the sports crowd, although there are better local choices if catching the game is your main reason for going out.
The crowd: Char attracts a diverse crowd. The night we visited, we spotted a local legislator, a table of young urban professionals, and some older, slightly soused suburban-looking folk. The piano acts as social glue; you’ll often see a crowd of people, most of whom probably don’t know each other, singing around the keyboard, arms and voices entwined.
The service: On the night we attended, the bartender seemed harried from a high ratio of needy customers to available servers, yet she remained attentive, helpful and polite. Most of the staff seemed happy to be at work.
The food: Char’s excellent food is not cheap, but once you’ve made the decision to order something there, you probably won’t care too much. Order off the regular menu at the bar; the closest thing they have to bar food is the excellent Char burger for $10 (accoutrements available for an extra charge), or the equally tasty Beefeater roast beef sandwich ($9.50).
The damage: Char’s not what we would call a budget choice by any means, with wine by the glass starting at $6 but averaging closer to $10, and imported beer going for $4.25 a bottle. But that’s not really much more expensive than other upscale bars in Jackson—also, there’s no cover charge despite the excellent nightly music.