Restaurant Review #67: Jack Sprat's Grille, Westwood/West LA

Portabella burger and air fries

At the suggestion of a friend, I decided to try Jack Sprat's Grille, a place I normally would not go to because, well, it's not Indian, Vietnamese, or sushi.

When I think of a grill, I think casual. But this is not a grill, folks--it's a grille. When you add that "e" to the end, you get tablecloths and nice utensils.

Our server was very professional--he was either a career waiter, or just very good at his job. He came to take our order promptly, came back in a reasonable amount of time when we weren't ready yet, and came back to check on us several times during the meal. This should be standard, I realize, but I guess the places I frequent don't realize this. Maybe it's a cultural thing. In Spain, for example, it would be pushy to be too attentive, because it's assumed that you want to take your sweet time to consume your meal and converse with your friends. Spaniards in an American restaurant would probably feel like they were being hustled out. They might be right!

For once, I didn't turn ordering into a science. Usually, I have to read the entire menu at least twice, ruling out items until I finally am left with just one thing to order. This time, I made life easy. I saw portabella burger, and I ordered it. And of course, I got the air fries, because what kind of reviewer would I be if I didn't order the restaurant's signature side dish?

Our food arrived swiftly. It only took a moment to confirm that my giant marinated mushroom cap was quite tasty. Though it tasted a bit too strongly of balsamic vinegar, like every other porto burger I've ever eaten, it was otherwise very good. Spread on the inside of the pumpernickel bun was a bit of tasty guacamole. Then, the burger was topped with thin carmelized onions, and sat on a bed of shredded lettuce, 2 slices of tomato, and a very zippy mustard-like sauce.

A common problem with burgers and sandwiches is that they aren't made to actually be picked up and eaten by anyone with an average sized mouth (or perhaps a female mouth--I could go into my rant here about how things are so often designed for men's mouths, hands, bodies, etc.). I ate my burger with a fork and knife, which feels pretentious to me, but I don't like getting food all over my face. Eating it with utensils was awkward too, but probably not as bad as trying to pick it up and squish it into my mouth. Shredding the lettuce was a good idea, as it meant there was no lettuce stem to chomp through and it kept the sandwich ingredients in place more easily. Maybe they should slice the tomatoes into thin strips, too. As far as the bun, I wasn't paying much attention to it. I generally don't like pumpernickel. I gouged out the top part to eat the guacamole, but that was about it. It was nice that it was a quality bun and not the flimsy white bread variety, though.

The air fries were really good when they first came out, but as they cooled off, they quickly became stale and lost their flavor. There were a ton of them--so many that had I taken home my leftovers, I could have made a meal out of the French fries alone. They were served with ketchup, which I thought masked the flavor of the actual fries. I've never been a fan of ketchup. There were some mustards on the table which probably would have been a better match, had I tried them. Now that I think about it, the mustards are clearly meant for the soft pretzels served as an appetizer. I took one bite of the pretzel, decided it was too dry, and didn't eat it. I prefer the mushy soft pretzels from Wetzel's to the more traditional crusty ones. I've never cared for crust. The pretzel might have been better had I not been late to dinner--maybe, like the air fries, they're better when they're first served. My friend, however, thought they were fantastic, and a welcome creative change from more traditional bread courses.

My friend ordered the green corn tamales. He thought the tamales were well-cooked and well-textured, but the sweet corn taste was a little bland, and would have been improved by adding a bit of cheese to the middle of the tamale. The side of guacamole was excellent and its tang complemented the tamale's sweetness nicely. The side of rice was generally good and had a sweet tomato sauce, but was a little dry in spite of the sauce, and the side of black beans added a salty flavor to the meal and did not disappoint. He recommends going to El Cholo for the best green corn tamales in town (which are seasonal, by the way), but thinks that Jack Sprat's version is not bad, for a healthy version.

Sweet corn tamales

Jack Sprat's Grille

(310) 837-6662
10668 W Pico Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90064

There is parking in the alley behind the restaurant.

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