Friday, December 30, 2005

Jimmy’s American Café
1238 8th Street
West Des Moines
Lunch: Monday through Friday 11 a.m-5 p.m.
Dinner: Sunday Through Thursday, 5-10 p.m., Friday and Saturday dinner till 11 p.m.
Brunch: Saturday 11 a.m.-2 p.m; Sunday; 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Jimmy’s American Café has always been somewhat of a mystery – the place is always packed but several trips for both lunch and dinner indicate the crowds and apparent loyalty has to be based on something other than a great dining experience. Menu prices are high considering the quality of the food served. Dinner entrees are $14 for chicken and $24-26 for higher end beef dishes. A full rack of back ribs is $21 and pasta dishes are in the $15 range.

“A” has eaten at Jimmy’s on several occasions for both lunch and dinner. Lunch has generally included a dish that features Jimmy’s signature chicken fingers, a deep fried presentation of moist, meaty tenders served with honey mustard dressing. Dinner outings have sampled prime rib and pasta entrees. “D” has only experienced lunch at Jimmy’s and that lunch will be the main issue in this review.

Before we launch into our experience, “A” would like to caution diners ordering the prime rib, if you like it medium rare, order it rare. “A”’s request for medium rare brought a plate that was medium and then some, lacking in flavor and bordering on tough. The cut also was very fatty.

The décor at Jimmy’s hasn’t changed much in several years – it is sort of pubby-clubby – comfortable booths and tables. The only thing that is mildly irritating is the white paper used for table toppers. We would rather have a nice laminate top table rather than the stiff white butcher paper. Thankfully, our server was not compelled to write her name upside down with any of the crayons residing in a cup in the center of the table. Wait staff is adequate although we had the distinct impression, our server would rather have been elsewhere doing something more enlightening – like knitting milk bottles, for example. There were no inquiries about our meal once it was served, no offers for refills on iced tea and the check presented without so much as a “thanks”.

“A” ordered the chicken fingers on greens salad and “D” decided to try the grilled salmon salad. The chicken fingers on greens lived up to prior experiences however many of the greens in the salad base were well past their prime. There is just no excuse for serving greens that are slimy and finding crisp nuggets of lettuce that didn’t taste like they had sat in an open refrigerator were far and few between.

There is something amiss when you can smell your lunch before it arrives at the table and we don’t mean that in a good way. Both of us could smell the salmon on “D’s” salad almost when it came from the kitchen. Being a good sport and a kindly person, “D” ate some of it and said, while it was not spoiled, it wasn’t really as fresh as it should have been. Again, the greens used as the base for the salad were also past their prime.

Aside from marginal food and indifferent service, we had one other real surprise during our luncheon at Jimmy’s. A party of four was seated in a nearby booth and one member of the party brought in her dog to lay at her feet while she ate. Maybe we missed a new law on the books that permits something other than service animals in restaurants but we think not. If it is too cold or too hot to leave your pet in the car, leave it at home or eat at a drive-in. Lest we judge too hastily, perhaps this woman owned one of the rare seeing eye Yorkshire Terriers one hears about so often. Let us simply say that dogs do not belong in restaurants…cats maybe and perhaps the occasional Cockatiel but definitely not dogs!

If you’re in the mood for dining with crowds of people on really marginal food served by indifferent wait staff, Jimmy’s is just your cup of tea.

Rating 1
Quality; marginal
Service: poor
Value; moderate
Recommended: no


Blogger Neil Wood said...

I've had the same experience there. It used to be better.

10:53 AM  
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6:20 PM  

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