Walter Mencken 10:03 a.m., March 27
New Plans for an Old Love
I’ve passed by Jimmy Love’s American Restaurant & Bar in the Gaslamp easily a hundred times over the past decade. Every time I do, two words spring to mind — Parmesan cheese. That’s normal, right? The reason I associate this fine Italian cheese with a place that does little to evoke its imagery is, as you’ve likely ascertained, completely personal. It stems from the last time I was there.
Picture it, the Gaslamp, 2002. A much younger me hitting downtown’s commercial epicenter in celebration of a friend’s birthday. He wants to go someplace a little fancier…someplace with live music. We mosey by a restaurant on the corner of 5th Avenue and G Street, and what’s that we hear? Music. We look at the menu posted outside the establishment. It sounds pretty nice, and it’s more expensive than the bars we typically eat at. That equates to exactly “a little fancier.” Sold!
This was my first time to Jimmy Love’s. I liked the live swing music. I even enjoyed the look and feel of the place, though, even then, I felt like it needed an update. Though we were outside our normal dining comfort zone (due to budgetary constraints, most of the gourmet food I ate back then, I made myself), we ordered as close to our normal routine as possible. I got myself a pizza.
When the pie arrived, I ordered Parmesan cheese, and was soon graced with a metal condiment cup filled with broken off chunks of real Parmesan cheese. While I was no stranger to this on the home front, it was the first place to give me something that didn’t resemble the powder out of green Kraft cans or dried up, pre-shredded pseudo-Parm. This place was classy!
After our meal, we headed out to a beachside club with thumping music and cheap liquor, but I never forgot that dinner. As the years passed, I ate at many spots in the Gaslamp. As I did, Jimmy Love’s slowly but surely fell into that category of Gaslamp eatery where you see it, watch everything change around it, and eventually find yourself wondering—how is that place still there?
For me, this has been the prime spot that summons that query. Apparently, the ownership at Jimmy Love’s has caught on to the fact it’s a pretty common pondering, because they’re teaming up with Good Time Design, the company behind such downtown spots as Bootleggers, Double Deuce, Knotty Barrel, Lucky’s Lunch Counter, and The Tipsy Crow.
Good Time will be redoing the décor, and converting the downstairs portion of the restaurant into a lounge with an aircraft carrier motif. That place will be called Hangar 5. Back upstairs, the menu will get a complete overhaul and consist of American-style tapas, dishes cooked en papillote (sealed in parchment paper with liquid, then baked to infuse flavor…this would be the first restaurant I know of to lead with this as a featured section of a menu), and what are being billed as “gourmet stuffed burgers.”
There’s no word on what the burgers will be stuffed with, but might I suggest some Parm? Dishes will range from $7 to $12 for appetizers and $10 to $25 for entrees. Jimmy Love’s is located at 672 Fifth Avenue and will remain open during its revamp, which is scheduled to be complete by August.