Venice: Going Southern at Willie Jane
Willie Jane, a newish Southern food restaurant on Abbott Kinney in Venice has unique access to a garden right next door. With farm to table and garden to glass trends, Willie Jane is able to tap the neighboring garden for fresh herbs and eggs for their menu.
I started the night off with the Scarlet O’Hara. Bartender friends have let me know this drink has a long history of being known as the “Southern Comfort (SoCo), lime and cranberry juice drink.” Willie Jane turns it into a much more palatable cocktail featuring bourbon and their blackberry beet sage shrub. A little Cherry Herring keeps the flavor profile.
Scarlet O’ Hara – bourbon, Cherry Herring, blackberry beet sage shrub, Peychaud’s bitters
We started with the buttermilk biscuits with burnt orange honey sauce. The biscuits were dense and absorbed butter amazingly well. I tried to be modest and spread a bit on but ended up smearing quite a bit for a decadent beginning.
I can’t resist deviled eggs anywhere and it wasn’t even a question if we were going to get these with shrimp and trout roe. Although we did debate the shrimp and grits appetizer for half a second. But really, it’s all about these deviled eggs. The yolks and then some had been scooped out leaving quite a nice vessel behind to hold all the bounty. I also liked the thin sauce that reminded me of good buttermilk dressing.
We had actually finished our meal when it was realized we hadn’t tried the vegan crab cakes. Willie Jane does meatless Sunday suppers and this is one of the restaurant’s best sellers. I loved how you didn’t miss the crab with the perfectly crispy crab cakes
My friend got the Coal Miner’s Daughter which was very lovely with fresh macerated ginger. There are some drinks you just want again immediately and this is one of them. It follows basic drink principals of ginger, honey and lemon going very well with whiskey.
Coal Miner’s Daughter – bourbon, macerated ginger, lavender honey, lemon
We were ready to get our meat on and I can’t resist porkchops when I see them. I’m always looking for a favorite pork chop place. Willie Jane’s massive chop was hidden under a pile of fresh greens which I moved aside for the photo. The pork has been brined with sweet tea. The chef said it’s a light brine so it’s not like you’re drinking ice tea when you’re having your pork. It just gives the sauce a hint of sweetness. The thick cut was very juicy and cooked just done.
We got a couple of sides with our meal. The simmered collard greens were cooked so they still kept their shape. If you’re afraid of mushy unrecognizable greens, then these at Willie Jane might be for you.
Once I saw turnips on the menu, I knew I wanted to try them. Our server said they were crispy which I found intriguing. I found the roots the only real crispy part while the centers were delightfully tender, almost ready to be mashed.
While I enjoyed the pork chop, my favorite dish was the oxtail with plantains. The meat had just enough fat to feel guilty and was oh-so-tender. I’d come back for this dish any day. Well, except maybe Meatless Sunday Supper, of course.
I had another cocktail as my “dessert” though it was really the fab vegan crab cakes. I decided on Smoke, a rye whiskey drink with a couple of my favorite things; more whisk(e)y and Fernet!
Smoke – rye, Fernet, smoked honey, lemon, Scotch float(310) 392-2425
© The Minty 2014