Many readers will disregard the remainder of this review based on reading the title. Jake’s couldn’t be more rebellious if the patrons all wore Guy Fawkes masks. Like A&A Burger Bar, Jake’s defies definition, flying in the face of expectations. One part industrial zone cafe, one part hospital cafeteria, and one part family restaurant, Jake’s is about as reserved as a Rottweiler gnawing on your testicles. I’m surprised the chefs aren’t screaming orders to each other in clear view of the public.
I had the impression that if I gave Jake’s a poor review, fanatical defenders would staple my netbook to a crucifix made of beef. However, looking at the other patrons upon entering, I started to doubt any of them knew what a netbook was. This was the only place where I would be worried about leaving it here while going to the bathroom.
Jake’s tables resemble that of a truck stop diner, perhaps with a scant more polish. Burned bronze chandeliers and lamp posts offer some measure of prestige against the wooden railings and period murky posters hanging off of slate blue walls. The dominant feature is the order counter where customers flank the chefs opposite searing oven tops and broilers. They take the orders and cook the food. Above them a classic order board lists options in wavy retro font. No menus. Jake’s bleeds local history, like it hasn’t changed its decor in 50 years. Photos under the counter harken to a time when this town was dominated by a single street, surrounded by an invasion of old-growth pine. The illusion is that Jake’s steakhouse survived all those decades, with the town growing around them. Regardless of the truth, it’s a believable claim given the decor.
Being lunch, it would have been inappropriate to open with a steak, so I opted for a slightly more reasonable bacon and mushroom cheeseburger. The prices were exactly where you’d expect them to be, with nearly every selection under 10 dollars. The exceptions to these were the steaks with the king a 15 oz mini-cow at 22$. There was nothing terrible fancy with the burger, and it wasn’t required with a quality of beef. This was not some frozen patty from an unlabeled wholesale box but a molded piece of art sculpted by hopefully sanitized hands. Even the unsung fries were among the best I’ve had, that perfect balance between soft and crispy. This is the kind of place that serves coleslaw in a styrofoam cup but also offers Caesar salad as a complimentary starter. You would expect the service to be lackluster but the single waitress that snaked around the tables was attentive and perky.
So, a waste of a review I would think. I mean anyone looking for a pretentious restaurant to conform to their ostentatious demands would be best to avoid Jake’s. People who know Jake’s love Jake’s, and people who don’t know or don’t care might be turned off by its borderline schizophrenic nature. Doing so would be denying some of the best fried and broiled meat in town. This is a vegetarian’s nightmare, mocked across the order board. But anyone renouncing meat is flicking a bull’s scrotum by walking into a place called a steakhouse. It would be like a chocking victim walking into Christian Scientist convention. I can imagine the entire restaurant falling into an ominous hush like that moment in Vanilla Sky when Tom Cruise bolts from the coffee shop at the mere mention of vegetarian dishes.
This was a perfect burger with a proper level char, filling up every square inch of the bun, even to the final bite. It may not be appropriate to wear a tie here or talk about something other than hockey, but Jake’s is a location those customers enjoying quality beef should take in. It’s one of those restaurants Gordon Ramsay would take another restaurant’s owners to in Kitchen Nightmares to show them what a good burger looks like. Unlike the Burger Bar, I can see returning to Jake’s for dinner, granted I don’t bring my fedora and wear those jeans I’m never seen in outside of my house.
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