There are a lot of things that go into making a restaurant the kind of place that – upon entering and being seated – makes you immediately think of returning a next time. Being welcomed by a sharp and well-appointed maître d’ and hostess (in a proper, tailored suit and a well-cut little black dress, respectively); a flattering lighting story; a strong reputation; comfortable seating; friendly and attentive service; a simple, easy-to-read menu; and an ambiance that is at once relaxed and inviting, allowing one to feel like part of a scene, yet able to conduct a conversation without straining to hear. All of these were in the mix, when I recently took a friend to eat at longtime Beverly Grove favorite Jar – A Modern American Chophouse; and all of it before we’d even ordered!
It was a Friday evening, and I was on my way back to WeHo, from Pasadena, where I’d attended the VIP Preview of On the Verge of an Image: Considering Marjorie Keller; a cleverly installed group-show at the historic Gamble House, produced by Los Angeles Nomadic Division (LAND), with my friend, Theremin virtuoso, Armen Ra. I’d been in a group-text, just the day before, with a pair of my go-to Los Angeles social-setting-senseis (Angela Janklow Stein and Bryan Rabin), and they’d both mentioned Jar, with glowing remarks; so Armen and I took that as a sign.
Normally, there’s not a shot we’d have gotten a table, at Jar, on a Friday night, without calling in a few favors; but it was the first night of OldChella; so many of the regulars who might otherwise have been dining, that night, were in the desert, rocking to the oldies. Lucky us!
No sooner had we been seated, than my pal Bret Witke appeared at our table. Immediately, I realized that Witke – one of Los Angeles’ premier interior designers – must’ve been responsible for the delicious design aspects that we’d been clocking since entering. The feeling of substantial luxury that’s comfortable with itself (aka neither trying too hard, nor beating you over the head with how fierce it is); the luxe walnut of the walls; the rolling club chairs that enveloped each guest; the diffuse lighting; and that sense of flow that’s become a Bret Witke trademark. Ahhh… It was all clicking together, for me. Also, it was dawning on me why Jar’s dining room felt so familiar: a number of popular television series, including Entourage, Modern Family, and Ray Donovan (not to mention Top Chef Masters), had all filmed, there.
But now it was time for us to order. I was feeling a pull toward the comfort food for which Jar is so well known, so I opted to start with the Fried Ipswich Clams, and to sup upon Jar’s Signature Pot Roast as my entrée. Armen decided on the Iceberg Wedge with 1,000 Island Dressing, and the 10oz Prime Filet of Beef.
I have a special place in my heart (and stomach) for fried clams, and these were light and crispy and sweet. I just wish there had been more clams. As for the Pot Roast, there’s a reason it was singled-out on the Food Network’s The Best Thing I Ever Ate (Season 4, Episode 9 – “Crazy Good”), with Rocco DiSpirito declaring “Pot roast – yeah, baby!” Also, I can’t remember the last time I ordered pot roast in a restaurant (pot roast having given way, of late, to the de rigueur short ribs). It was everything you’d want in a pot roast; moist, tender, succulent, and utterly American. No wonder why, after 15 years, Jar is still packing the house.
As Armen enjoys his steaks prepared well-done, the kitchen had butterflied his filet; and he said it had been prepared to perfection. Our entrees consumed, our server, Kevin (exactly the sort of waiter you’d want at a restaurant like Jar – friendly without being overly familiar; a veritable Johnny-on-the-spot with a refill or suggestion) asked if we’d care to see the Dessert Menu. We did.
Both of us ordered Jar’s Signature Chocolate Pudding. Damn, it was good. Really good. Armen had excused himself from the table, for a moment, and our puddings arrived while he was gone. So, I figured I’d give mine a taste. Of course, one taste led to another. Then, another. Truth be told, if Armen hadn’t returned when he did, I’d likely have eaten his, and ordered him a new one.
Now, in addition to waking-up in the morning, realizing I’d been dreaming of chocolate pudding; my only regret is that I haven’t been back to Los Angeles on a Sunday. But I know that it’s only a matter of time before I go HAAM on Jar’s Fried Chicken Sunday. (That’s Hard as a Mother, btw…)
Jar – A Modern American Chophouse
Beverly Grove, Los Angeles
Click HERE for info
Get into it!