Jake’s Old City Grill

Caters to Females, their Handbags, and their Parties (gentlemen included)

Posted In: Culture, Restaurants,   From Issue 700   By: Lori Robinson

11th March, 2010     0

So much of our everyday society is about popular culture, more so than we would probably have it if we stopped to ponder the subject once in a while.

Take an average middle-aged female going out by herself at night in Saginaw and expecting to 1. Be safe, 2. Have fun, 3. Receive courteous treatment, 4. Did I mention have fun and 5. Actually receive exemplary, not just courteous, treatment.

Sadly, not all individuals display baseline understanding of our own responsibility in achieving Step 1 of this process. And even if we do, not all establishments offering the sale of entertainment, food and beverages have properly availed themselves to our use by promoting Step 1 for the self-respecting female individual.

On the happy flip side, a list is growing of local establishments displaying an overt understanding that lone women and their handbags can represent significant revenue streams and thus deserve protection and proper treatment.

One highly gracious leader in this arena stands at 100 S. Hamilton: Jake's Old City Grill, online at jakesforsteaks.com, where you'll find proprietor Paul Barrera Sr. on site six days a week, typically accompanied by his beautiful wife, Pamela, on Friday and Saturday nights.

As one of my out-of-town visiting family members recently learned, to meet this amazing couple is to adore them. Paul Jr. is responsible for the international award winning wine list. Incidentally, my parties tend to gravitate toward Jake's bodacious Martini List.

Shortly after Jake's opened in 2006, I chanced upon it as a lone soldier, and decided to go in and have a drink. It was winter; Jake's provided not only a warm shelter, but also gracious setting in both physicality and demeanor.

In my first meeting with the Martini List, I chose the CEO. It stole the show and I went home a happy camper. (You can download the Jake's Martini List, international award-winning Wine List, Lunch Menu and Dinner Menu at jakesforsteaks.com. The Web site also offers a handily enlightening and interesting primer in Saginaw history.)

A few months after that initial encounter, one evening I introduced a fellow to Jake's, where we shared an order of two beers and the Hummus and Tabbouleh Small Plate. Oddly righteously indignant in his reaction to the gracious atmosphere and fresh fare, he was out of there. Jake's, on the other hand, gleefully remains.

Our most recent party of three began a splendid evening of libation, dinner and dessert with a Tequila Mockingbird and Seduction from the Martini List, alongside a fountain Coke for the 11-year-old. Nice start. Our weary traveler gratefully began to unwind.

The preteen ordered a Jake's Stuffed Burger with mushrooms and Swiss, prepared medium well. As his mom, I swiped a stray piece of iceberg partway through the meal and savored the charbroiled flavor of the formerly accompanying beef patty. The boy almost finished his burger by evening's end. Far be it from me to scold him for not accomplishing the feat of consuming a full half-pound of burger in one sitting.

After having pondered the Starters list, Weary Traveler and I arrived at the Wild Mushroom Cakes for our appetizer. Great dish, but I would have preferred to taste a hint of red wine vinegar in the mushrooms themselves. Their bed of avocado pesto and drizzle of red pepper would have to suffice; I must confess to using too much red wine in my cooking anyway. One time I practically pickled a poor zucchini with the stuff.

I'll have to follow my host family's example in trusting my public dining palate to the expertise of Jake's Executive Chef Taffy Cline, Sous Chef James W. Brooks and Kitchen Manager Maria C. Stacy. They're so far ahead of me on that curve that mine is but only to learn from their instructive graciousness.

But I digress. By the time our entrees arrived, Weary Traveler had ordered his second martini, this time an Aurora Borealis, while I nursed my lime and quaffed water. Happiness ensued as our conversation grew livelier, Weary Traveler thoroughly enjoyed his Land and Sea and I dove into my Salmon Scampi. We adults made short work of our meals; it bears repeating that I can't fault the 11-year-old for not finishing a half-pound burger, even as he subsequently tore down a chocolate cake and ice cream-type desert in its entirety.

With gratitude to our hosts, Mr. and Mrs. Barrera who happened to dine next to us, we left their establishment in much better condition than the place found us. We got home safely.

In my experience, Paul Barrera always has displayed a talent for properly treating his patrons. True to my Michigan roots, given a free evening, I tend to hop in my car and drive it. I recall years ago when I would trust the beginnings of such trips (usually to Detroit) to Barrera's expertise when he owned Nine's Firehouse Pub, where I would treat myself to a shrimp cocktail and Coke before jetting town.

Back to the present, dining at Jake's can feel like an investment. Our party of three dropped just over $120, including tip, on one appetizer, three dinner entrees (one was a burger), three martinis, a soda pop and a dessert. As Paul would gently remind us, his wine list (it follows then that the menu closely corresponds) is rated as inexpensive by global standards.

Once again, the situation begs thought: What would this meal have cost in Manhattan? The answer: Bravo, Barrera Family. Salud and touché.

Jake's grilled vegetable salad comprised lunch today. At $12 with coffee, water and 20 percent tip, it represents yet another gracious treat complete with remnant box to enjoy once I finish this assignment.

You can dine at Jake's six days a week. Hours are prominently posted on the Web site homepage. On special occasions such as Easter and Mother's Day, the establishment also opens on Sunday. Otherwise the family takes a day of respite before starting its workweek each Monday.

If it's an off-promotion Sunday and you have a hankering for Jake's, fret not. You can check out the fan page for Jake's Old City Grill on facebook to learn all you need about this local gem, complete with the latest updates on current promotions.


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