The Boston Phoenix
August 3 - 10, 2000

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Jimmaize Café

Some answers about a mystery spot

by Julia Hanna

on the cheap
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  • Every time I peered through the window of Jimmaize Café, it seemed to be closed. Eating there became a mission. Then one morning I saw signs of life and ducked in for a hefty veggie omelet, toast, and home fries ($4.50). The waitress explained that Jimmaize and Brookline Lunch next door were one and the same, connected by a back hallway and a common kitchen, and that tables in Jimmaize were used to accommodate weekend brunch crowds.

    Initially this was something of a disappointment. But after looking at the menu I decided there really are two restaurants here, a split personality of sorts. Brookline Lunch has the usual pancakes, waffles, and omelets for the hung-over breakfast crowd (many look as if they've come straight from last night's show at the Middle East), as well as hamburgers, sandwiches, and salads. Certain items on the menu, however, are better consumed on the Jimmaize side, with its odd Mediterranean/Caribbean décor of purple, pink, and green trim, fishing nets, and dusty jars of kumquats.

    Curry goat ($6.50), for example, is served over rice with chickpeas, greens, and a passel of vegetables filling out the rich, cinnamony sauce. The meat in question (generous chunks that were chewy in texture and somewhat murky in flavor) probably won't qualify this as a crowd-pleaser, but I thought the bracing dish was a better head-clearer than a goopy, cheesy omelet. Snail Gormande ($6.50) was a delicate affair served over rice pilaf, the plump mollusks swimming in a light herb-cream sauce that also featured handfuls of bay shrimp, carrots, zucchini, mushrooms, and tomato. A daily special of grilled salmon served with soup, pilaf, and vegetables was simple and delicious, and at $5.95 beat the price of some hoity-toity sandwiches you'll find these days.

    To be honest, I ate these entrées across the border in Brookline Lunch. Jimmaize was closed. But they tasted fine in a red leather booth, too.

    Brookline Lunch, located at 9 Brookline Street, in Cambridge, is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Jimmaize Café is open whenever. Call (617) 354-2983.

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