Jeff Smith 2:30 p.m., June 26
Communal nibbling in the presence of wine
There's a dense little block of restaurants on 6th Avenue in Hillcrest just south of Robinson: two different Japanese places, a good Thai spot, and Jake's on 6th (a wine bar). I've noticed the inviting patio at Jake's a few times. "I'll have to stop in there," I've thought, all the while never managing to make it back.
That has changed. I popped in the other evening with the idea of a very light repast and a significant volume of wine. I got just that. The dining room was dark, almost too dark without having a band on stage and nowhere to sit, but the "living room" layout of the interior puts a lot of options on the table for seating; everything from stuffed chairs to a long, high bar.
Jake's menu advertised little in the way of dinner food. In fact, it's really an excuse to eat lunch food for dinner and drink a lot. The evening was warm and my appetite was low, so the lack of entrees and substantial fare suited my needs. Alternatively, as a preliminary nosh before a more serious meal, Jake's liberal happy hour and specials could be perfect--more on that later.
As far as the food was concerned, I was more or less limited to salads, antipasti, and panini. The various boards of cheese and antipasto compelled me, so I tried a small platter of meats and cheeses ($11) that was optimized for communal nibbling in the presence of wine. Nothing was left out of the platter. There was a trio of cheeses, ham, turkey, salami, baguette, olives, and fresh fruit. But the whole board was fairly reserved and there was nothing, except maybe the olives, in great quantity.
A kale salad on the menu seduced me with it's healthy charms, but the kitchen was sadly out of kale. Instead, an arugula salad that had been dressed with the lightest of vinaigrettes and topped with tangy sun-dried tomatoes and salty, Italian cheese made a good substitute.
Jake's big triumph, for guests if not the bottom line, is in happy hour pricing and daily specials. 4-7PM Happy hour means $2 off wines by the glass, $1 off beers, occasional bottle specials, and food starting at $4. Happy hour lasts all night on Tuesdays and beer is 50% off on Thursdays. The big score is Monday nights, when bottled wines are half-priced all night long. Bottles at Jake's are in the $25-$50 range for the most part, so the quick maths reveal a truly smoking deal for Monday evening tipplers.
When I went in, the one server left in charge of the entire dining area was understandably overwhelmed. I wouldn't say the service was rude or lacking, as she was perfectly cordial, but it got a bit inattentive from time to time. Also, in the heat that we've been having lately, I would have liked to see some sort of ice bucket employed to keep my bottle of sweet Vouvray at a cool temperature. Proper service of wine at a wine bar is expected, but it's important to point out that, when things like that happen, it's partially our obligation as diners to ask for what we want. I opted to drink the wine before it could warm up--the hedonistic solution if ever there was one.
With the eminently shareable food and affordable wine, Jake's remains a good enough bet for casual wine drinking and snacking.
3755 6th Avenue
Open daily at 4