Saturday, July 24, 2010

Jim's Place East

Jim's Place East has been serving Memphis fine Greek food for a long time. It recently made the news by announcing it is moving from its present location (off Summer) to a much more accessible location near Poplar and Perkins, next to Babcock. I'm actually excited about the move. The new location is much, much more accessible. I'm sure they will do much better business. They are also going to update their menu a bit and make it a bit more casual.

However, the old/present location does have a certain charm. It's at an old, very large house like structure. It makes for a very unique dining atmosphere. My parents really wanted to go before Jim's Place moved because they really liked the current location as well as the food. So, Neel and I went with them, in sort of a celebration of their upcoming 41st wedding anniversary.

We ate on a Wednesday night, and so we got there pretty early, around 6. Essentially, there was no one there. I'm betting that is because of the out of the way location. Who wants to drive to the middle of no where to eat on a weeknight? Weekend, maybe. But definitely not a place you just pick up and randomly go.

I've been to Jim's Place numerous times, and it has a been a bit up and down. At one point, it was one of my favorite restaurants since I love steaks and Greek food. But one time, a while back, Neel and I went, and it was horrible. Before that, it was great, but we hadn't been back since our bad experience. So, we were a bit hesitant and our expectations were low. Thankfully, it at least partially returned to its old form.

Though Jim's Place is Greek and has many Greek items, the menu is basically American with standard steak, fish, and chicken entrees. I kinda wish that they would have more Greek influence throughout their menu. I got the shrimp stuffed with crab and broiled in lemon-butter sauce. It was good and pretty tasty but not great. Neel got the scallops broiled in butter sauce. Again, good and tasty but not great. For both dishes, you got the feeling that the butter sauce was over-compensating for slightly lower quality fish and/or sloppy cooking technique. Rather than broil, most restaurants seem to pan sear their scallops and shrimp. I think that is the way to go. Both dishes at Jim's Place were really dripping with the sauce, but the fish/scallops themselves were a bit tough. Nevertheless, both dishes were still good, and they do give you quite the large portions. Not only are the entree portions large, each entree comes with a choice of two sides. I got the Greek salad, which was a bit above average. It's so hard to find a good Greek place in Memphis; there is really not much competition for a good Greek salad. My second side was the eggplant parmesan casserole. This was a bit unusual. I generally don't like my vegetables drenched in red sauce but they managed to make it work.

My mom got the salmon and it was good. Nothing to jump out in traffic for though. I thought it was a tad overcooked. My dad got the gumbo and it too was ok. I've definitely had better in Memphis though. Looking back over my past experiences at Jim's Place (including this one), I'm generally disappointed with their ability to cook fish. However, I've had their steaks before and they were usually pretty good. So, as a general recommendation, I think I would go with the steaks there in the future.

So, the entrees and appetizers were pretty average. However, for some unknown reason, the four of us decided to split three desserts. Bad for the waistline, but good for the taste buds because these desserts were really, really good. We got a slice of key lime pie, a slice of midnight layer cake, and the special dessert for the night, strawberry cake. No doubt, this was the best part of the night. I think that midnight layer cake was one of the better chocolate cakes I've ever had. It was pretty standard in appearance, with about three layers of cake with icing in between and on the top and bottom. But it had a great balance between cake and icing. The cake was moist and the icing was delicious. It also had mini chocolate chips in the icing, so another bonus. The key lime was very good as well. I thought the strawberry cake came in third but it was still pretty good. We managed to destroy all 3 desserts since they were so good, even after eating our entrees and sides.

Apart from the food, the service was good. The atmosphere is a bit strange though. The restaurant is so large and so old. Coupled with the fact that no one was there, it made for an intimate dining experience. It definitely appeals to the older age group. For that reason, I definitely am looking forward to their new location and hoping for a bit more updated look and feel and menu selections. But as far as fine dining Greek restaurants go, Jim's Place is a slightly above average choice that gives healthy size portions without executing those choices in an exception manner. Moreover, their menu and atmosphere clearly needs updating, and I was a bit disappointed with their fish execution. For that reason, I'm a bit ambivalent to the experience overall, with clear positives and negatives. In light of all these factors, we give Jim's Place East 2.5 stars.

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