Friday, October 12, 2012

Not a Paradigm Shift, But a Revision

Cheesy Jane's
4200 Broadway Avenue
(just south of Hildebrand)

Just after this place opened, I tried it for lunch with a friend. I was utterly and completely unimpressed, not least because my burger happened to contain an unpleasantly large and undesirable piece of cow, on which I nearly broke a tooth. I also thought the burger was in the nothing-special category, and so it was no trouble for me to not go back.

Until the other day. I have a good friend who works in that part of Broadway, and he and I meet for lunch often enough that we are kind of running low on new and interesting places to try. You might not think so, just based on the restaurants I've reviewed in this blog — only four in that area — and regular readers will find it hard to believe that I've ever had an unexpressed thought where food is concerned; but the fact is I've been to almost every place around there and have had to repeat visits to most of them, and I usually don't write about them. Shocking, I know, but there it is.

So: Cheesy Jane's it was. It was, after all, time; they've been there for years, and while that's not a guarantee of real quality (see Chris Madrid's), it's an indication that something is being done right.

Parking is tight. I got the last place out front, though there may be places on the side street or perhaps in another lot I'm not aware of. This may be a problem for a lot of people in the area, but my friend is just old enough to remember how to walk to lunch. The atmosphere inside is diner-casual, and the place is exceptionally clean. There's a vaguely '50s air to the whole operation, but I don't think it's an intentional theme; certainly not heavy-handed like so many places would opt for. I was seated promptly between a family of four and a couple of AT&T employees discussing corporate politics. The seating was tight enough that I could have followed the entire conversation of the phone-company people, had I so desired, but owing to the general noise level of the place, it would have required a level of concentration that I wasn't willing to attempt. Besides, the conversation of a couple of pre-teen girls on the other side would undoubtedly have been more interesting. Luckily, though, my friend arrived before I became immersed in whatever it is six- and eight-year-old girls discuss on a weekday when they should be in school, and I was able to enjoy an adult conversation about nothing at all. It was truly a Seinfeld moment.

Service was prompt, despite the density of the lunch crowd, and our waiter was only slightly harried, giving the impression that he was just this close to bursting into flame, yet still completely in control of things. Before my friend arrived, I had time to study the menu, and noticed the little legend on the back that said their milk shakes and malts, of which they seem very proud, are available with non-fat yogurt. That, and the array of flavour choices, convinced me that this was a time to try a peanut-butter-and-jelly yogurt shake. For my meal, I chose the Cheesy Jane Sampler, a tray of miniature burgers of different sorts, served with french fries. Well, thought I, what better way to find out what's kept this burger joint afloat for so many years. My friend, who seems to have an inexplicable aversion to beef, ordered some la-di-dah sandwich made with some other kind of meat. It's been a few days, and I don't remember if it was tuna or chicken or what. And let's be honest: who cares? 

Last city inspection: November 2011
3 demerits (excellent)
(the city's health department mis-spells
the restaurant's name)
The milk shake was surprisingly good. It actually did taste like peanut butter and jelly, and it had a very good consistency and no unpleasant yogurt taste or aroma. (I don't actually like yogurt, but I can live with it. It's like cauliflower or rye bread, only I wouldn't want either of those in a milk shake.) It's not quite the grand-slam home run like a shake at, say, Olmos Pharmacy, but it's pretty close, and you get the metal mixing cup with that extra bit that makes you feel like you're getting a little lagniappe. Always a good feeling.

For my meal, I was expecting tiny sandwiches that would be crushed in the ring by a White Castle hamburger. We call them "sliders" these days, an unpleasant name to refer disparagingly, I presume, to sandwiches that were considered full-sized in my youth, but are now barely an amuse-bouche. You can order a basket with one or two sandwiches, but I went for the full three: "sissy, porky, and bean burger." The "sissy," I deduced by the process of elimination, is a plain ol' hamburger with plain ol' accoutrements. It was good, but still in that nothing-special category: the bun was soft and yeasty, the meat was well-cooked, and the trimmings were reasonably fresh. 

The "porky" has a piece of Canadian bacon, a few sautéed mushrooms, and an appropriately-sized piece of Swiss cheese. These ingredients added a pleasant layer of flavour to the otherwise good-but-ordinary sandwich. The bean burger was a still more interesting creation, despite being just a little hamburger with some refried beans and Fritos on it. The combination of simple ingredients — ordinarily not my favourite by any stretch — was actually quite pleasant, to the point where I may someday order a bean burger on purpose. It was easily the best of the three I sampled. 

All of these sandwiches were accompanied by a reasonably sized portion of well-made french fries, and I think everybody knows just how hard it is to find well-made fries. These were, I suspect, twice-cooked, as they should be, in clean oil at the right temperature for the right amount of time. They were salted enough that I was satisfied, but not so salty that most people wouldn't add more to them. (I can count on the fingers of one hand the times I've added salt to anything at a restaurant since I started writing this blog three years ago, and still have three fingers left over.)

The prices are reasonable for this type of food. My meal, including that delicious milk shake, was right at fifteen dollars with tax and tip. If you forego the milk shake, you can no doubt get out for considerably less, but you might want to think hard before going that route. Definitely a good milk shake.
Cheesy Jane's on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

  1. Tony SantoriniFebruary 14, 2013

    Now I want a milk shake.


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