Every good marketing plan has a signature phrase that is used to create identity and awareness. I end my Men’s Family Law podcasts with the signoff “Guys, remember, a cheeseburger and a chocolate shake will get you through just about anything.” I use it as a way to give men some actionable advice for when they are feeling overwhelmed, and since most men don’t actually recognize feelings, it points them in a direction to do something for 20 minutes.
As a consequence of my affinity for the hamburger I like to know who around town makes a champion burger. I’ve dined at Steak N Shake, In N Out, Pono, Umami, Pier Burger, Big JO’s, George’s, Johnny Rockets and the usual suspects of fast food that need not be named. So last week when the PR firm for Jimmy’s Famous American Tavern asked if I’d like to come in and sample their wares I had to accept.
Yesterday, the trust millennial sidekick and I race through the raindrops to the newest gastropub in town on Ocean Avenue across from the Loews Hotel. We arrived at 11:30 a.m. to avoid the lunch crowd madness and were promptly seated by the hostess. Within 2 minutes our intrepid server Josh came over with his 100 watt smile and bright eyes to ask for drinks and share recommendations from the menu. He quickly proved that he was not just a handsome hunk, but had an accomplished knowledge of the menu with solid descriptions and suggestions.
We started off with a selection of appetizers that would easily have sufficed for a meal. As a child, Brussel Sprouts in our home were overcooked, boiled to death mini-cabbages that were highly unpopular. Today, they are slow roasted, usually with bacon and some variety of spicing and I adore them. Jimmy’s delivers them perfectly roasted so they are crispy on the outside, and still al dente on the inside. They are paired with Applewood smoked bacon, pine nuts and maple syrup in what can only be described as a melding of harmonious flavors. The salty smoky bacon blends with the maple syrup and the nuts provide a delightful crunch. The portion was tremendous. I seriously would expect to see a portion this size on a family table for four people.
Anytime there is shrimp on the appetizer menu, it will be ordered, and Jimmy’s did not disappoint with their Whiskey Shrimp. A mélange of Cajun spices, mustard and cream coated these sweet, juicy shrimp. Served in a cast iron to keep them warm, with basil flavored olive oil toast they would easily have been a main if served with a side salad.
But the star of the appetizer parade was the Buffalo Style Meatballs. Starting with a golf ball size meatball that was well spiced and not overcooked as they so often are, the five meatballs come in a buffalo sauce with red jalapeno and a honey-garlic dipping sauce. These were the boss call of the menu. Absolutely my favorite item and I could see having them with a green salad for dinner.
The millennial had the Famous Cheeseburger and it is big enough to split between two people. The housemade ground Certified Angus beef was shiny with the juices still running under the slowly melted high quality American Cheese. Good American cheese has a glistening sheen to it, bad looks like melted plastic and this was no melted plastic.
I tried the French Dip to see how it stacked up against the pride of Los Angeles – Phillippes. This was a strong contender in the fight for a good French Dip. Soft bread encased a pile of super thin sliced prime rib under a cover of melted Swiss Cheese and crispy onions. The horseradish sauce that accompanied was mild and tangy and over all this was a good sandwich – not as good as the original downtown, but I didn’t have to drive downtown either! This would certainly satisfy a craving.
The chef sent out their signature fried chicken on mashed potatoes over green beans smothered in sage gravy. The phrase “winner winner chicken dinner” may take on a new meaning with this one. I was very impressed with the presentation and the flavor profile of the deep brown friend chicken that was still tender and juicy accented by the herbiness of the creamy gravy.
The restaurant itself is set in a darkened interior with black padded booths, warm lighting and the feel of the restaurant was very hospitable. The general manager Chris La Cava and I had a great chat about where we both started, many moons ago – the Hamburger Hamlet. I was a young waiter there in the 80’s and have fond memories of that original “gourmet” burger joint.
Jimmy’s is definitely in the running to be one of the great burgers in town, and I look forward to going back there and trying the rest of menu soon, even though they don’t have chocolate shakes on the menu.
David Pisarra is a Los Angeles Divorce and Child Custody Lawyer specializing in Father’s and Men’s Rights with the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist. He welcomes your questions and comments. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 310/664-9969.You can follow him on Twitter @davidpisarra