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Entries in Bar (3)

Tuesday
Jan312012

Father's Office, Santa Monica

It’s hip, it’s happening, it’s loud, it’s chaotic, and it’s totally packed dude, like bodasciously mega-packed. I’ve heard about Father’s Office when I was living in LA. “Go for the burger dude.” Thanks Johnny Utah for the advice. 

I was talking with another foodie, James Collier, who was down in LA for a food bloggers conference and the Father’s Office Burger came up. I recall hearing that it was good, but not earthshattering good.

With all these recommendations, it took simply the suggestion from a former analyst and friend of mine, Monica to get me to go. I trusted her as an analyst; so why not trust her foodie senses?

As we walked in, I get carded. Really. This automatically makes me think we’re going to a bar that serves food, rather than a restaurant that serves drinks. All seating is first come, first serve, like a bar. All orders and drinks are taken at the bar. There are no waiters, only expeditors and bussers. The place is a 1200 square foot space with a narrow space in between tables.

The food was above average across the board, but unbalanced. To their credit, our food came out fast, hot, and generally well prepared.

We started with a smoked eel, slivered onions, and coddled egg. The four pieces of smoked eel was outstanding and delicate. I wish I could have had 4 more pieces of eel. However, the softball sized amount of slivered red onion that accompanied the eel was way too much. Talk about onion breath! The coddled egg, while wonderfully cooked, served almost no purpose since there wasn’t a starch on the plate or the table to mop up all that yolky goodness.

We also ordered the sobresada. It was good, but not over the top. The bread was crispy around the edges and not uniformly crispy, which bugged me. I know, I’m being picky. I think I used some of the bread to sop up the egg yolk from the eel dish and the egg, bread, and meat combo worked for me.

As I mentioned, Father’s Office is known for its burgers and the burger didn’t disappoint. I don’t think it was the best burger I’ve ever had, but it was well seasoned and prepared. I ate the burger through our entire meal. Lots of arugula, caramelized onions with balsamic, and medium rare beef all good. I think I might have even dipped my burger into the egg yolk from the eel dish as well. I can’t let quality egg yolk go to waste; I needed bread damn it.

One outstanding, yet simple item were the sautéed mushrooms. I loved these. In fact, I was using my fork and burger to scoop up the mushrooms and sauce (read butter) just so I wouldn’t waste anything. Probably the least technical item of the night, but the simplicity spoke to me.

Lastly, the sweet potato fries were good, but the ubiquitous alternative menu item to the humble,  regular potato fries, I’m tired of. I think I was tired of them 3 years ago. There’s nothing more healthy about a deep fried sweet potato than a regular spud. They’re Deep Fried. And ranch is less healthy than ketchup.

I’d say Father’s Office is an experience. The food is good. The beer is good. A busy crowd is good. As someone who has eaten many a meal alone because of work, I wouldn’t come here alone. I wouldn’t make this my regular stop if I were local either. It’s not an alone type of place. It’s a social place to be quickly served, well fed, and well imbibed. I still believe that it’s a bar, that happens to serve good food. Just not a bar I’d go to alone for a quiet drink and a burger.

Father's Office (Santa Monica) on Urbanspoon

Wednesday
Dec282011

Fig Restaurant, Santa Monica

Fig Restaurant at the Fairmont Hotel in Santa Monica has a great happy hour; half-off everything. I happened to stop in on the recommendation of a colleague of mine for a pre-dinner snack and drinks with good friends, Monica and Jackie.

Lamb meatballs with kale in a tomato sauce and Nduja with pickles and toast were the two apps we ordered. The meatballs in sauce were really good, as good as anywhere I’ve had them up in San Francisco, somewhat similar to Marzano’s in Oakland, just without the spicy characteristic. The meatballs were moist, well seasoned and the tomato sauce was solid.

The Nduja was also good, but I admit, I’ve never had it with pickles. I've only had Nduja at BarBacco in San Francisco or at my house courtesy of Boccalone. I don't think I'll serve it with pickles at my house. I might consider serving it with some form of marmalade or something other than a dill pickle.

The Fig Bar for a light app and a drink during happy hour is a good choice if you’re in Santa Monica.

FIG Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Friday
Sep092011

Jimbo's, Clovis

It’s been a long time since I’ve been to Jimbo’s. The last time was probably when I was 21 or 22.  Now, some 20 years later, it seems familiar, comforting, a throw-back, and is most certainly a roadhouse bar.

Instead of Patrick Swayze at the door, there’s “Ma” takin’ money for the cover charge. Ma carries a whistle around her neck. Why? So that you can be notified that last call is here or in case there are some 40 year old adolescents starting a fight; because, “no one wants to go to a slaughter house.”

Jimbo’s is a good place to play some pool, listen to some music, dance, or sit outside with friends. Sure the place is cooled by industrial and Gottschalks 80’s Box Fans (I’ll bet you they still have quartz heaters somewhere). There’s absolutely nothing special about this place and yet it’s all special. And don’t look at the ceiling, you might poke your eye out.

Huge positives at Jimbo’s; the bartenders are fast and the beer is cold and cheap. I haven’t had this type of rapid-fire service since Wiliker’s, Alligator Club, Black Angus, Fish Co., or Greenhouse in the late 80’s or early 90’s. Not only is the beer cold, I ordered 2 Corona’s and a Dos for less than I order most glasses of overpriced wine in town.

One other thing occurred to me as I sipped my beer, Jimbo’s for all its flaws and rough edges was still better than Springtini or Falltini or Summer Sizzle in a strip mall parking lot somewhere in a Fresno. Jimbo’s has character, it’s alive, and actually has atmosphere.

Fresno and Clovis Restaurants should take a page, the How to Run a Bar Page, out of the Jimbo’s Book. Find bartenders that hustle. Keep your beer cold. And price your drinks for movement, not what the distributor tells you to do to pay for your first bottle. And while it may sound like an oxymoron, Jimbo’s runs the Best Dive Bar in the Central Valley.