To paraphrase a famous commercial: Go hungry, my friend!
You’ll want to try it all.
David Wilhelm, known for many successful restaurants on the Orange County scene, does it again with a tavern-themed restaurant that provides a neighborhood gathering atmosphere along with artisanal comfort foods representing many regions of the U.S.—and with his usual creative flair. Wilhelm’s culinary celebrations have included French 75 Bistro, Kachina, Chat Noir and Savannah Chophouse. Jeff and Todd Hatch, owners of Hatch Design, are also minor partners in this concept.
“I wanted classic American dishes—not the same old, same old,” said Wilhelm.
My tasting focused primarily on brunch items. This left me wanting more: lunch, dinner and late night menu offerings.
Begin with a “Meal Mary”. J-FAT as the restaurant is nicknamed has a meal-filling version of the Bloody Mary, which includes Absolut Peppar with applewood smoked bacon, pimento olive, gulf shrimp, pepperoncini, Fontina cheese and a Jalapeno “deviled” egg. ($15).
Too much in one glass? Try the Raspberry Mojito. It looks like pink lemonade, but don’t let it fool you. It’s not too sweet and provides the right amount of “kick” for a warm feeling and perfect pairing with onion rings. Raspberry Mojito ($9)
This and that
Everything I tried, hit home with my flavor buds.
`Alesmith Ale battered Onion Rings with J-FAT Chipotle ketchup. A big yes! Not over-sized, but perfectly rounded tires of battered onions ready for the taking. Don’t miss bringing home a bottle of the Chipotle ketchup ($8). I’m not a ketchup fan, but this one now will be a staple in the household. Wilhelm—who oversaw the creation of the ketchup and loves bringing together sweet, salty and spicy--is working on positioning the ketchup in grocery stores soon.
The Nest of Jalapeno “Bedeviled” Farm Fresh Eggs are perfect for deviled egg lovers. A topping of one slice of jalapeno makes these worth every bite. Six in a serving for $8.
The Breakfast Flatbread is a complete meal with eggs, Applewood smoked bacon, sausage, cheese, potatoes and chives. The toppings did not overwhelm the thin flatbread ($14).
I was looking forward to the fried chicken. My wish was granted with a serving of Buttermilk Fried Chicken & Malted Ale Waffles with thyme gravy and maple syrup ($16). The chicken was crispy and the gravy was a savory blend of sage and the sweet of syrup. I look forward to trying the full dinner of fried chicken.
While I’m not a fan of banana desserts, those around me who tried the Bananageddon seemed to be blissfully spooning it in and nodding in agreement when as ask if they liked it. Bananageddon is brown butter ice cream, bananas, pecan blondie crumbles, salty caramel sauce, whipped cream and candied pecans. $10 (serves 2).
The variety on the menu not only will suit nearly everyone, the restaurant is also Green Certified. J-FAT uses locally raised (if it’s the best available), organic and sustainable food products whenever possible and “strives to partner with growers, farmers and fishermen who adhere to these same principles. The certification also involves water and utility saving equipment and techniques, the use of recycled building and paper materials and supplies as well as a food composting program.
Jimmy’s Famous American Tavern is located at the Dana Marina Plaza, adjacent to the Dana Point Harbor. 25001 Dana Point Harbor Drive, Dana Point. 949-388-8900.
Try it! You’ll be a J-FAT fan.