Jimmie Kwok, chef/owner from Bodega Bistro, has opened his own place, Jimmie Bar Ristorante, in the Cova Hotel.
Yesterday I gave it a try for prima colazione (breakfast). Before looking at the menu, I tried to order cà phê sữa đá (Vietnamese iced coffee), but none to be had here. I asked my server, Ben, why the Italian theme and mentioned the nod to Marco Polo in Grubstreet’s piece. He laughed and said that the owner thought it would be a good niche for the neighborhood. While there will be some Asian dishes on the menu, he doesn’t want to compete with Bodega Bistro. Ben added that the lunch special of shaking beef has been a hit and the shaking beef brochette at night is very popular.
Besides Italian and a smattering of Asian flavors, Jimmie also features a raw bar. Ben said the menu was printed before the seafood prices shot up due to the Gulf oil spill, but they’re continuing to honor them for now even if they’re not making any money on those dishes. The current oyster roster included Drake's Bay, Blue Points from the East Coast, and another type from the Pacific Northwest.
I tried the Tosto Francese with mascarpone and maple syrup, $7.20. Nicely presented with a quenelle of mascarpone on the side though the strawberries were hard. I popped the lid on the Dickinson’s pure maple syrup and asked if it could be warmed up in the microwave. Ben took it back to the kitchen, then we both learned that there’s no microwave oven. They offered to heat it in a pan for me, but I declined. Made with slices of French bread, the French toast has a soft, custardy center. I couldn’t help but remember the awful cream cheese-stuffed French toast at Peter D’s, but fortunately, this was 10x better.
To answer the question about why the $7.20 price, Kwok’s lucky number is “9”. All the menu prices are multiples of “9”.
Ben said that the place has been packed every night since opening last week and he wished they had more tables. But it has been dead in the morning. I was the only other customer besides the wine salesman, and they’re thinking of closing down breakfast service.
I hope they stick it out for a while, as I’d love to try the eggs benedict. Driving by the crowd of folks lined up in the rain outside Brenda’s, I felt the urge to pull over and tell them to walk two blocks over to Ellis to try the new kid in Little Saigon.
655 Ellis St, San Francisco, CA 94109
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