On my second visit to Mason Jar, I was reminded of how disappointing this place was and am now wondering why this place is still around. BOURBON and BEER. That's why! They have a wide selection of bourbon and beers, slightly over 20 each, that will definitely keep the patrons coming back for more. But is it enough to keep this place afloat? Sure, liquor/beverages have high margins, but you need something else to supplement that income, especially when New York City rents are so high. So, my best guess is that the Mason Jar will be short-lived - which is unfortunate since its a relatively new establishment to the area.
So why such a bad review?
FOOD IS HORRIBLE. If you like bland food, then this is your place. On my most recent visit, I ordered the pulled pork entree with two sides. The pulled pork tasted something akin to Chipotle's or Qdoba's shredded pork, but blander if you can believe it (and I think the fast food chains are a chin ahead of mason jar on this one). The garlic mashed potatoes tasted like they came out of a box - something I was not expecting. A friend ordered the meatloaf that touted "bacon" and I swear I didn't taste any bacon in that thing.
Sadly, I can't say my first visit was any better. My friends and I visited this place shortly after it opened. We ordered the BBQ ribs, Pretzel Burger and DOH, the Pulled Pork. And, my opinion then was the same as it was tonight -- bad, just plain bad.
I will say one thing, of all the things that are pretty good or decent at this place, its the Jalapeno Corn Bread. They used to serve it as "the bread when you first sit down", but that is no longer being served as your 'welcome' bread.
The decor is nice - sort of reminds me of Galway Hooker. Either way, I wish they spent a little less on the decor and more on a good chef -- that way they could sell a lot more liquor when its comforted by good food!
Its just too bad that this place doesn't have better food, otherwise, I think it would actually have a good chance. But, if you want to name your restaurant as an "American BBQ comfort bar/restaurant" than you should probably serve some decent BBQ! Especially if you know your competitors are Blue Smoke, Wildwood and Hill Country, which are all within a 1-1.5 mile radius. Heck, I would even throw in Hill Stone (previously Houston's) as their direct competitor.
What's the verdict? This place is not recommended for dining, even if you are having a craving for BBQ - its just not worth it. If you're interested in having some drinks, I'd suggest coming for Happy Hour which starts at 5 and ends at 7. Or, even if you're looking for a low-key quiet-mellow place, Mason Jar will be a good place for it -- think of the old Ghost Town bars in western movies -- that's what this place will be.
43 E 30th St
(between Madison Ave & S Park Ave)
New York, NY 10016
p.s. if you're wondering why I came back to this place? A friend had a Groupon that was about to expire, so we had to use it. Its too bad we spent our groupon on food instead of alcohol!