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Mar 29, 2009 11:53 PM

Berkeley - Jimmy Bean's $12 three-course dinner - fried chicken Friday?

On my way down Gilman, there was a signboard advertising three-course dinners for $12.

Don't know if they are the same specials all the time. Fried chicken was on Friday. If it is as good as T-Rex, that might be something.

Other $12 dinners were chicken pot pie and meat loaf. That's all I remember. The website doesn't mention it.

Jimmy Bean's
1290 6th St, Berkeley, CA 94710

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  1. The specials are buried in a page off of the Lalime's site:

    We just started an evening menu that serves a salad, main course and dessert for $ 12.00 and for the month of March you get a complimentary glass of wine with that as well (what are you waiting for?). The menu changes daily: Monday- Middle Eastern Mezza, Tuesday- Lasagna, Wednesday- Shepherd's Pie, Thursday- Chicken pot pie, Friday- Fried chicken, Saturday- Meatloaf and Sunday- "bring the kids" Pizza or spaghetti and meat balls.

    I would have gone on Friday but my chicken heart was craving a Zaki bird. The referenced URL also has current "economic stimulus" deals across the Krikorian empire.

    2 Replies
    1. re: ernie in berkeley

      Ah ... the glass of wine got to me and I thought I should scurry down there to take advantage of that before the end of March.

      Tonight was the Mezze Platter. The $12 dinner had

      - Two slices of house-baked ciabatta and butter
      - La Paz merlot (or sauvignon blanc ... don't know the winery since I went with the red)
      - small caesar salad
      - Mezze Platter
      Falafel, hummus, baba guanoosh, dolma, ground beef skewer, chicken wing, house-made grilled pita, feta cheese, Kalamata olives,cucumbers, tomato, roasted red pepperss and tahini sauce
      - Tres leches cake.

      I'm not a fan of mezze platters or Jimmy Bean's ... until tonight. I've been eating a lot of Middle Eastern food lately, so I figured sure ... let's see what Jimmy Bean's does with it.

      First of all, they are making a big deal on their website about the new pastry chef, Brian Victor, who is overseeing the baked goods for all five restaurants ... with good reason.

      The pita is the best flat version... the type you stuff .. that I've had. Nicely grilled with crispy spots and nice flavor. The ciabatta was lovely too ... light, airy interior with a chewy crust. The only downside is they seem to cut the bread ahead of time, not to order, so the ends were dry. They also had a basket with loaves of this lovely bread for sale.

      To finish off the baked goods part of the dinner, the tres leches square was lovely. Light and not soggy like some it had a coconut taste to it and was nicely topped with good whipped cream.

      The caeser with chopped romaine was also nice ... good garlicy dressing, buttery croutons and fresh, finely shredded cheese.

      As unusual as it was in a mezze plate, that was one nice chicken wing ... crispy skin, flavorful marinade, juicy meat. The ground beef skewer skewer was also tasy, delicate and had nice spicing.

      I'm not a fan of falafel and looked at these with dread ... but they were tasty. Crispy exterior with a nice tasty interior. Seriously, falafel lovers don't listen to this rec. It may or may not be what you are looking for, but I liked it.

      The dolma was also nice, moist rice with a nice mintiness.

      The stick of feta cheese was very good as were the olives, tomato, roasted peppers and cucumbers. The only downside were the hummus and baba guanoosh. I couldn't tell which was which, I guessed on them based on color. Too smooth, too salty and too little flavor. The tahini sauce was good but not extrodinary.

      This was a very nice dinner at a great price.

      Though I love all the other restaurants, I was so underwhelmed by Jimmy Bean's I could not ever imagine walking in the door again. This special lured me in the door and they have pretty nice dinner options ... mainly simple American comfort food with a few Middle Easter and Mexican dishes.

      The dinner menu changes nightly and tonight there was
      - Chicken pot pie with blanched veggies $10
      - Catch of the day (salmon or seabass) topped with tomato concasse and served with garlic mashed potatoes and green salad $16
      - Pizetta special $10.25
      - Two pieces roasted free range chicken in a Thai dressing with vegetable rice and small salad $12
      - Combination faitas $12
      - Grilled ribeye steak on a house-made sweet roll with Swiss cheese, carmelized red onion, tomato and mayo. Served with green salad and french fries $11
      - Torta de carnitas $9.75
      - Grilled pork chop marinated in a sweet juniper berry brine, with garlic mashed potatoes and blanched veggies $14
      - Soup of the day - Italian meatball $4.50

      One of the problems I had on my last visit was the staff. Tonight everyone was super ... friendly, informed and helpful. They are trying out table service in the eveing rather than ordering at the counter.

      I'f go back and recommend Jimmy Bean's for dinner for someone looking for straight-foward food, done well at a good price.

      1. re: rworange

        Over the years Jimmy Bean's has tried out table service in the evening many times. And also during "the early years" they frequently weren't open for dinner at all.

        Once, quite a while back, they even brought in an honest-to-god "chef" to cook dinner and his food was VERY good and the dishes were exceedingly reasonable in price. They also sent some of the best servers from Lalime's down there to wait tables. That experiment fortunately lasted over a year, but was then, alas, abandoned. It sounds like now they might be heading back in that direction again. I sure hope so.

    2. Thanks for the tip, RW. I had the special last night.

      Small green salad- mesclun, shaved carrot, chunky cucumber and grape tomatoes, tasty vinaigrette.

      Steamed clams, mussels, shrimp, chorizo and chicken atop an earthy rissoto, topped with aioli. Generous and tasty.

      Bundt cake, raisans, nuts, fig, topped with whipped cream. Tasted like a Christmas dessert, the weakest of the courses.

      Complimentary glass of decent Pinot Grigio.

      About 4 tables occupied for an 8:00 dinner, so service was attentive and friendly.

      $12, simply an outstanding value, even when tax, tip and another glass of wine brought the total to $40 for two.

      8 Replies
      1. re: EdwardAdams

        Glad it turned out well. It seems they are continuing the glass of wine through April ... and that is really what makes it quite the deal.

        1. re: rworange

          I went there on Friday and have to say was very disappointed. I ordered the fried chicken special and my mom ordered the chicken pot pie. First, they forgot our salad. Then the chicken pot pie was still cold in the middle and very dry. The fried chicken was lukewarm. It looked like it was fried earlier in the day and reheated in the oven before serving. And finally, they forgot our dessert. Overall, even though $12 is a bargain, we both agreed Church's chicken is way better. Too bad because I've always enjoyed their other restaurants.

          1. re: calalilly

            That's too bad. I was hoping the fried chicken was close to the T-Rex chicken. Are the still offering the wine?

            Church's? Seriously? There's not better fried chicken than that? I do like Church's chicken but ONLY if it right out of the fryer, otherwise it loses a lot.

            Ah well, I was thinking of going for chicken pot pie night, maybe I'll give the meatloaf night a try.

            Did you ask about dessert? Maybe they got confused (no excuse) because two different entrees were ordered. I think there is only one 3 course offering and on Friday it would be be fried chicken.

            1. re: rworange

              Yes, they still have the glass of wine. I had the merlot and it was very good, I believe it's their own label.

              Maybe it was an off night, but the chicken was soggy and nothing like what T-Rex serves. I'm curious if others have had a better experience.

              1. re: calalilly

                I have to say I'm still wary about Jimmy Bean's. It doesn't get the love the other restaurants in the group get. As mentioned, based on my visit a while back, I was surprised to go back and like it. Your visit sounds like more what may previous experience was like. Still, hoping for good things with the meatloaf ... unless someone reports otherwise.

            2. re: calalilly

              I concur. My fiancee and I were looking forward to the fried chicken dinner. However, the main course was very disappointing. I don't think the chicken was fried... it appeared to be covered with a breadcrumb mixture and then baked (as evident by the small scorched spots on the breading). It was slightly dry, and not very well seasoned at all. We're reluctant to give them another shot...

              1. re: koi

                I went for the Lasagna tonight. Overall, well worth the $12.
                (1) An uninspired small plate of caesar salad, but with their in-house fresh bread.
                (2) A choice of chard/merlot/cab. I had the cab. It was very drinkable. I have no idea the brand.
                (3) A reasonable portion of beef lasagna with some vegetables in it - it looks like it was first made in a large pan, and then cut into a portion-sized piece and baked in the serving dish. It had a very nice flavor. It came with fresh steamed broccoli, cauliflower and squash.
                (4) A reasonably-sized piece of a spice (maybe carrot) cake. Decent enough.

                All I can say is even though the portions seemed small to reasonable, 3 hours later I am still nice and full. It was a nice homey meal, with pleasant service, nothing special, and 2 of us ate for $24 plus tax/tip. I left a high % tip because they were very nice, and I figured 3 courses for 2 was worth more than 15 to 20% of $12 each. I will gladly go back for another one of the nights. Even if it was $13 :p

                1. re: lmnopm

                  I went on Shephard's Pie night and thought it was a nice meal for good value. Everything other than the Shephard's Pie (salad, dessert, etc.) was kind of mediocre, but the main course itself was really tasty (and a fairly generous portion, I thought), and as everyone has said, you can't really beat it for $12. My SO ordered the lasagna a la carte and enjoyed that as well.

        2. We went last night hoping for meatloaf, but it looks like there have been some changes. Sat is now Paella Valenciana, and Sunday is "Mexican fiesta". I'll echo many of the others here and say that for the price I was quite pleased.

          We started with a mixed green salad with some cucumbers and shaved carrots that was dressed judiciously in a well-balanced vinaigrette. The main course was pretty good, although not really a traditional paella as I understand it (not that I'm an expert by any means). It was more like slightly seasoned rice with a lot of seafood and a chicken thigh. No shrimp or chorizo or anything, but a very generous portion of fresh-tasting clams, mussels, and halibut. It was pretty good, although not something I would necessarily pick normally. The pistachio-cherry coffee cake had a lovely texture, but suffered from being waaaay too sweet. The few somewhat tart cherries were no match for the sheer sugar overload. The unsweetened whipped cream helped a bit. The wine was a nice little bonus, although the mister got most of mine (I'm pregnant).

          It was by no means a great meal, but on our budget it's a god send. Sometimes it's nice to go out for a "real dinner" (rather than, say, burritos), and this kind of deal allows us to do that. We'll definitely be back to try some of the other specials. The mezza plate as described by RW sounds intriguing, and chicken pot pie could be good too.