Jame (El Segundo, CA)

Back when I started Offbeat Eats, I had a lot of business travel to both Edwards AFB and the LA area. During these visits, I got into a nice groove where, instead of fighting LA traffic on arrival, I’d instead take the short drive to nearby El Segundo or Manhattan Beach, have a nice relaxing meal, and then proceeding to my destination as the evening traffic started to abate. These visits have gotten a lot less frequent, but I still try to follow that basic procedure when I’ve got the time. This time, I chose El Segundo, with a visit to Jame in the downtown area.

El Segundo got a bit of an unfortunate deal as the Los Angeles coast started to get developed; while the coastline and beach of El Segundo itself is quite pleasant, the development of the coast ended up wedging downtown El Segundo between LAX airport to the north, a Chevron refinery to the south, and a large industrial area of major aerospace prime contractors to the east (which is generally the reason I’m in the area). But the downtown maintains a surprisingly nice character: a nice downtown strip, reasonably good parking, and a nice cluster of restaurants. Several years ago, a local favorite of mine was Farm Stand, which closed in 2016, but this trip I found Jame. Located in the El Segundo Plaza just off the main crossroads of Main and Grand downtown, Jame has a nice combined dining room and outdoor patio, and I found myself seated at the bar for a late lunch.

Relaxing with what might be one of the most photogenic (and reasonably tasty, with a light peach note) ice tea, I looked over James’ menu, which focuses primarily on fresh salads and house-made pasta. My late lunch arrival allowed me to catch the tail end of their lunch menu, which included a nice price fixe menu with a non-alcholic beverage, a starter, and a pasta main course.

Plane travel for me usually involves some slightly junky food at the airport followed by some Biscoff cookies on the plane, so when I can finally sit down at a nice restaurant after a flight, it’s nice to have something fresh and green, and I went for their kale salad. A surprisingly generous pile of grana padano, avocado, cilantro, and a sweet and spicy almond vinaigrette (not overdressed), this was an outstanding kale salad, and a great and reasonably healthy restorative.

For my entree, I did their Paccheri Rigati. The larger and slightly broader cousin to rigatoni, this served up with a surprisingly rich and robust ragu sauce. The pasta was the real star here, served up perfectly al-dente pasta with just enough texture that the ragu really bonded with this. This was perfect comfort food for recovering from a long flight.

The other interesting thing about Jame is that it also serves as quite a good cocktail bar, the John Thomas Bar. Most of their drinks are nice house-made variations of standards, and one that caught my eye was listed as their “Token Tiki Drink”, the Jeremy Fox. With both aged and blackstrap rum, puerh (a fermented Yunnanese tea) orgeat, baking spice, citrus, and a dash of honey. Served up in their house Tiki mug, his was actually an outstanding drink reminiscent of a Mai Tai. Indeed, it was a bit of a surprise, it’s both a little weird and sad that Jame, an Italian restaurant, has a better Tiki drink than the nearby Tiki bar (Purple Orchid).

2 Responses

  1. Scully 20 Feb 2024 at 09:53 #

    I lived in Smell Segundo in the early 90s and it is a cute little community even if the Chevron refinery could make it a bit stinky. There were no good restaurants that I recall when I lived there. Just a dive bar.

    • kaszeta 20 Feb 2024 at 09:54 #

      The smell, and the dive bar, are still there.

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