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Photograph by Katherine Bish
Martini Mondays and 20/20 Tuesdays. The café or the bistro/bar or the private party room. Live music Friday and Saturday nights, plus Sunday brunch. The luncheon menu or the café dinner menu or the bistro dinner menu or the late-night bistro menu.
At Jimmy’s Café on the Park, more is more. On its website, the restaurant bills itself as “a continuous work in progress,” and it is indeed a piece of work. It has matured, yet it remains abuzz and all-at-once; everything’s got just a little quirk to it. The flatware is wavy-handled. The handrail balusters are zigzag. The two fire pits are suspended from the ceiling by chains. The bathroom stalls in the ladies’ room are canopied in tasseled fabric (very Moulin Rouge). Not enough? Owner Jimmy Kristo says an upcoming remodel will “freshen the place up” and “add a few more visual effects,” which is exhausting just to think about. Luckily, Jimmy’s Café can always be counted on for a restorative meal and a stiff drink.
Whenever I go to Jimmy’s, I’m initially overwhelmed, anxious that I’ll be forced to choose from one menu when what I want is on another. (“What time in the afternoon does dinner begin?” I worry. “What if I’m craving café food but sporting a look more bistro-casual?”) Easily, my concerns are assuaged. A good number of my favorite items are available on multiple menus. The smoked trout? I can get it as a brunch entree or as an app at lunch or in the bistro at dinner. Plated with chopped tomatoes, red onions, capers, cream cheese, and toast points, the dish has a decidedly earthier flavor than the typical smoked salmon (which also shows up at brunch, pink and sunny-tasting as it should be). The steak-and-Gorgonzola salad not only does double-menu duty, it’s almost like two salads in one. Well-prepared, deliciously chewy slabs of tenderloin and pleasantly pungent Gorgonzola crumbles are a classic pairing, but toss in some firm stalks of grilled asparagus and yummy, sliced new potatoes, and it’s as if a twisted salade niçoise decided to sneak in on the action.
A sign of a worthwhile, crowd-pleasing, regulars-cultivating restaurant is that your favorite meal there is your most recent. Mine was a solo supper at the bar, where my seltzer was speedily refilled at least a dozen times, since I took the time to fully indulge in an expertly cooked dish, the oatmeal-encrusted chicken. Two sautéed chicken breasts, dredged in a batter of cornmeal and oats, were fantastically tender and juicy inside, but crisp and crunchy outside. What’s more (and more), the side dishes—succulent garden tomatoes and mushrooms in a lemon-sage
cream sauce—were so good I’d say they’re worthy of equal attention.
Five years ago, Kristo instituted Martini Mondays: $5 cocktails in martini glasses. The 20/20 Tuesdays are new; 20 bottles off the regular wine list, normally $26 to $38, are priced at an even $20 per bottle. Kristo claims he’s “not a discount guy; that’s the first time I’ve had to go and do that.” Jimmy’s has been around 15 years, and Kristo wants it to see another 15, so as his work progresses, all we can hope for is more, more, more.
Bottom Line: Jimmy’s provides value dining without sacrificing quality or style.
Lunch Tue–Sat, dinner Mon–Sun
Average Main Course: $14 bistro; $23 café
Chef: Derek Craig
Dress: The ubiquitous “dressy casual”
Reservations: Accepted for both dining areas