Who would think that a locally owned takeout restaurant would still be around after 60 years in business?
Jeans Beans has been cranking out fried haddock and chicken, homemade breads and rolls, homemade deli salads and homemade desserts at its Eastern Boulevard location since 1953.
The place itself is, for lack of a better word, dated. Its like walking into an old industrial kitchen. Bright lights, white walls, high ceilings. A long counter with a little cash register forces you to go left or right.
Not knowing which way I should go, I went left. As I was checking out the large pans filled with cold salads potato (two kinds), macaroni (four kinds), three bean, coleslaw, tossed and more a friendly employee asked if I needed assistance.
I told her I had called earlier for a 1:15 pickup. She knew exactly what I was talking about and said she had it almost ready to go.
I wandered to the other side of the big, open room, checking out the baked goods fresh rolls, cookies and pies. A line of customers were at another counter waiting to pick up their cooked-to-order fried food.
An ad in the Watertown Daily Times for Jeans Beans had caught my eye earlier in the week.
It was for their Fried Haddock Family Combo dinner for four consisting of three sides (one pound each), six dinner rolls, two pounds of fried haddock and four homemade brownies, all for $34.59.
A separate package containing the haddock completed my order, and I was out the door. What better place to sample this two-armed takeout than back at the Times lunchroom.
It wasnt hard to find four hungry co-workers to join me. I quickly unbagged our treasures and spread them out buffet-style on one of the tables and invited my volunteer co-reviewers to dig in.
For sides we chose mac and cheese, coleslaw and scalloped potatoes. Baked beans was one of our initial choices, but they were out. (Jeans Beans was out of beans? Isnt that like Red Lobster being out of lobster?) Could be theyre so popular you have to be there early to get em!
The mac and cheese was mushy but tasty, and although the mush factor would indicate that it had been sitting around for a while, there was still plenty of cheesy sauce.
The scalloped potatoes had a thinner sauce than we would have liked. It was bland and watery. Even a shake of salt didnt help.
The coleslaw was good, finely minced cabbage and carrot with a slightly tangy, sweet mayo sauce.
Fresh dinner rolls were big and doughy. They sure could have used some butter, but none was provided, no doubt an oversight. Plastic utensils were not supplied either.
The star of the show was the fried haddock, two enormous pieces with a crisp, thick, surprisingly nongreasy deep-brown crust uniformly surrounding the moist, flaky fish. No salt or pepper needed here both the crust and the haddock were perfectly seasoned and ready to go.
The fish was thoughtfully served with packets of lemon juice as well as little cups of creamy and tasty homemade tartar sauce.
Finally, dessert: two kinds of brownies, regular and peanut butter. Both consisted of a gooey, fudgy layer (almost like semi-raw brownie batter), one topped with a thin layer of chocolate icing; the other with peanut butter icing.
These were yummy, almost buttery, and gone in a flash.
The dinner for four fed five of us for lunch with a few leftovers. It was a simple meal in keeping with the spirit of the Lenten season. Portions were good and the price was right.
By picking up a four-page takeout menu, I learned that Jeans Beans is a local favorite known for more than just their fish fry.
There are weekday lunch specials like meatloaf, baked chicken and roast turkey. Grilled burgers and Gianelli sausage are available daily.
There are fried lunch and dinner specials where you can choose from fried chicken, scallops, shrimp, clams and calamari, priced by the pound.
They also have a party menu offering meatballs and sauce, lemon pepper or barbecue chicken, maple-glazed ham, lasagna and Jeans Potato Chips by the box (yes, the big blue and white box that you remember from years ago).
Many people assume there is a connection between Jeans Beans and Jeans Potato Chips, and there is, according to online sources.
Jeans Beans was started in Syracuse in the 1920s by a French chef named Jean who sold his famous baked beans on the streets of Syracuse.
By the 40s there was a retail store, Jeans Beans Co. and a potato chip plant that operated under the name Jeans Foods. Retail store franchises were offered, and a promising employee, Neil Fuller, a native of Hopkinton, opened stores in Elmira, Carthage, Ogdensburg and Watertown.
Except for the Watertown location, Fullers stores were not totally successful. By 1957 he had closed most of the other stores and concentrated on Watertowns Jeans Beans. The store in Elmira was sold and is still in operation today.
Jeans Potato Chips were acquired by Syracuses Tyrells Potato Chip Co. in 1995.
The distinctive cardboard box-packaged chips as well as individual snack bags are still available at Jeans Beans in Watertown.
Still at its original location, Jeans Beans is family-operated by Neil and Hilda Fullers daughter, Jane Fuller-Bowman, her husband, Don, and their children, Mark and Heather.
You can contact restaurant reviewer Walter Siebel via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
259 Eastern Blvd.
A locally owned takeout restaurant serving fried haddock and chicken, homemade breads and rolls, homemade deli salads and homemade desserts since 1953.
HOURS: 6:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday
6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Friday
7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday
8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday
Go for the fried haddock, moist and flaky with a crisp, thick, surprisingly nongreasy deep-brown crust.
RATING: 3 forks