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Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Jason's Downtown - Santa Ana

416 W 4th St
Santa Ana, CA 92701
Restaurant (714) 347-1120


I recently went down to Jason's Downtown restaurant in Santa Ana. Jason's is in the old school part of Santa Ana across from the Ronald Reagan Federal building. Near the hustle and bustle of all of the Fourth Street vendors, it's kind of a mini adventure to get to. I parked in the garage behind Jason's and went in the back door. I walked down a long hallway that opened up to a elegantly decorated dining room. It was dimly lit and decorated with modern decor. A musician was setting up her equipment in the corner. I walked to the front of the restaurant, checked in my party of 5, and was then seated at a great table close to the musician.

We were there around 6:30 PM on a Friday night. The waitress informed us when we sat down that they currently had happy hour specials until 7:00 PM. All appetizers and drinks were 50% off. I quickly glanced at the menu and ordered up a yummy looking cheese plate ($14.00/$7.00 during happy hour). The women decided to order the Spanish Tortilla ($8.50/$4.25 during happy hour).

I looked over the menu and was surprised and pleased at the variety of dishes here. I saw many international dishes including French Coq Au Vin, Moroccan Bastilla, and Caribbean Crepes. I came really close to ordering the Bastilla, but ended up ordering the Coq Au Vin ($16.00). I'm in desperate need of a place that serves good Coq Au Vin after the disappearance of French 75 Brasserie. V selected the Carribean Crepes ($17.00), J went for the Chicken Mediterranean ($16.00) on the waitress' recommendation, R ordered the Chicken Pot Pie ($15.00) and S decided on the Filet Mignon ($24.00).

We sat and listened as the musician started to sing. The live music consisted of a lone female musician with an acoustic guitar hooked up to an amp and some speakers. She wasn't bad. The volume made it difficult to carry on a conversation though so we just sat back and enjoyed the music.

The waitress then brought our beautiful cheese plate to the table. The platter had St. Andre, Humboldt Fog Dry & Gorgonzola Spread with Brandied Golden Raisins, Balsamic Figs, Apricot Cranberry Chutney, Grapes & Nuts. The waitress brought some warm baguette with the cheese. I think it was freshly baked. I was so excited and immediately tried all three cheeses. They were delicious. This is a fantastic appetizer or dessert and I highly recommend it. If you go during happy hour like I did, and get this dish for $7, you'll be thanking your lucky stars that you got such a great deal.

I didn't have any of the Spanish Tortilla. The menu described it as a traditional Spanish “Omelet” of layered potatoes, roasted garlic, caramelized onions and fontina cheese, baked with eggs and fresh rosemary - served with aioli mayonnaise and baby French string beans. It looked good and the women seemed to enjoy it.

After we all had our fill of yummy cheese, fruit, nuts, and Spanish Tortilla, our entrees arrived. I looked down at my plate and it looked delicious. My only complaint about this place was that a lot of the dishes came with Basamati rice pilaf with pine nuts. I'm not a big fan of pine nuts and asked if it was possible to get my rice without. I was told that the rice was already prepared and had the pine nuts mixed in. I took a bite of my food and flavor exploded into my mouth. My tongue was inundated with flavors of wine, mushrooms and onions. It was quite tasty. I still wouldn't rate it as high as French 75's, but very good nonetheless. The pine nuts in the rice were a little odd. They gave me the sensation that some of the rice was uncooked and crunchy. I had to keep reminding myself that I was eating pine nuts and not uncooked rice.

V's Caribbean Crepes had fresh Florida rock shrimp and ahi with West Indian curry, coconut milk, red onion, red pepper and celery sautéed in honey butter, flamed in rum and topped with fresh mango sauce. It was served with toasted coconut island rice pilaf with cashews, raisins and baby French string beans. V liked these crepes a lot.

S's liked her Filet Mignon ok, but thought it was a little dry. The filet was grilled with garlic butter and served with a wild mushroom demi glaze, roasted garlic mashed potatoes, sautéed green and yellow wax string beans and caramelized carrots.

J's Mediterranean Chicken was a boneless skinless chicken breast topped with spinach and feta cheese, tomato basil cream sauce, mozzarella cheese, basmati Rice with mushrooms & pine nuts and baby French string beans. She thought that the chicken had too many herbs on top. She is not a big fan of bold flavored food though. I have a feeling that I would have liked this dish a lot.

R thought that his chicken pot pie was just average. It was made in the classic style with peas, pearl onion carrots and celery. There was nothing wrong with it, it just didn't dazzle him.

Overall, I think we all enjoyed our meal here. The food was good and the atmosphere was nice. The music is a little too loud to have a conversation, but it's a nice touch. I am really looking forward to returning to Jason's to try more of his culinary delights.

One last thought. V had ordered decaf coffee as her beverage. When she drank her first cup, she was delighted at how good it tasted. She said it tasted like it came from a French press. Her second cup however was awful. I asked the waitress about the coffee. She said that their regular coffee machine had broken, so they made the first cup in a French press. However, they then went next door to Tommy Pastrami to borrow a pot of coffee from them. This is why the second cup was horrible. The waitress apologized and offered to make V another cup in the French press, but V politely declined as she didn't want to put the waitress through the trouble. I think Jason's should make all of their coffee in the French press. If they did, V would probably return to Jason's for the coffee alone.

Jason's Downtown on Urbanspoon


Unknown said...

Nice review, the food looks tasty and makes me want to visit Orange County California so I can find this place. Thumbs up!

Captain said...

Ooooo, B'stilla.... I'd be all over that. Do you recall if it was made in the traditional manner, with squab?

Griffin said...

Clayton-The food was tasty! Come visit!

Captain-The bastilla was not made with squab. The description was: A Moroccan Specialty prepared with Shredded Cornish Game Hen, Almonds and Moroccan Spices wrapped in Phyllo Dough, Baked and Sprinkled with Cinnamon & Sugar.

Captain said...

Still sounds good. If you ever find yourself at Marrakesh in Newport Beach, they offer it in squab, which I recommend. Not everyone likes the gamy taste though.

Chubbypanda said...

You are totally organizing an OCFB meetup here for happy hour. Get cracking! =D

Anonymous said...

yeah food look really tasty.

DanGarion said...

We are heading to Jason's tonight, sounds like it should be a good meal.