Jar - Report
- Jon Leventhal
Finally got around to trying this place this week. Called for reservation in afternoon, told they only had 6:45 or 7:00 (wanted 7:30). Made 7:00 pm, but we didn't arrive until 8:00. Restaurant half full. Asked hostess if she could seat us - no problem.
Restaurant is noisy - so much so that the waiter mishears my order. Also, have a really hard time hearing my dining companion. However, by the time we leave the restaurant is packed. Nice to see a full restaurant at 9:30 in LA.
Service is efficient and friendly.
Food is American comfort cuisine. I had Pork Belly - which is basically like soggy, fatty bacon. I don't know why critics are raving about this dish. Also had fried clams which were very tasty - crisp, light, nice clam flavor - not the usual rubbery strips of clam.
I had the NY strip on the bone. While it had buttery texture and wonderful mineral flavor, it was overwhelmed by peppercorn crust and had no crust. In fact, it looked sorta grey with a couple of char marks from the grill. It was also thin - 3/4-1 inch thick. It did not taste like a $29 steak.
Companion had pot roast. I made this dish at home a couple weeks ago, tasted virtually the same. My sauce was not quite as intense. I hadn't made pot roast before-probably won't again. I'm not a huge fan of stewed/braised beef.
Sides were potato gratin and creamed spinach. Both were totally undersalted. After requesting some salt, both tasted solid, if unexceptional.
We shared chocolate pudding for desert. Nice version.
Overall, the food tasted a lot like stuff I can make at home. $180 w/wine seems a bit stiff for this kind of food. While I enjoyed my evening, I don't think I'll be returning soon unless someone else is picking up the tab.
Am I you, or did I just have the exact same experience when I went there (I think the latter). Competent but unexceptional, which doesn't feel so good when signing a credit card slip for $100. I don't understand the fuss -- maybe people are starved for a little "homeyness" and are willing to pay for a road-show version of it.
The details differ, but my experience was pretty much the same as yours. Except I was underwhelemed by the much vaunted Ipswich clams. My lamb shank was decent, though not as good as the one I have at 2117 (if I may continue to beat that drum.) Creamed spinach was bland. Fries were first rate, though. My fiancee loved the banana cream pie but ended up losing both that and her pot roast just before bedtime.
Very nice decor, however. And the noise level, though high, wasn't nearly as painful as Angelini Osteria's (if I may continue to beat THAT very noisy drum.)
Boy do I disagree with the posts about the food at Jar. I'll confine my remarks, however, to the comments about the pot roast. If any of you make a pot roast equal in flavor and texture to the phenomenal dish at Jar, please invite me to your house. Please. In the meantime, I recommend the excellent article by Russ Parsons that explains some of the secrets of Jar's success:
re: Barry Glassner
A few years ago Russ Parsons also did an article about how to make a melt-in-your-mouth tender leg of lamb. I have used his long slow cooking method many times since for beef and lamb. It is really easy. In time all of the tough parts of the meat become meltingly tender and the liquid becomes ricker and more concentrated. It really is easy...just meat and time. Cheap too.