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Jake's American Grille, Connecticut Avenue in Upper NW - Closed

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I just saw a sign for a new Grille restaurant to open near Terasol on Conn. & Fessenden. Does anyone know about it?

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Signage is up, finishing touches being worked on, chefs in the kitchen prepping and waitstaff getting trained at the bar. Looks like Jake's American Grille is fully operational. According to the sheet of paper taped on the door, they are doing a preview type deal on wednesday (2/23) 50% for neighborhood people.

decor appeared to be modernish/industrial meets diner. Exposed duct work etc. with high backed diner style booths, along one side wall. Looked like a long bar along the opposite side wall, and an open-ish kitchen in the back.

No menu posted.

This place is directly across the street from Politics and Prose.

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Signage is up, finishing touches being worked on, chefs in the kitchen prepping and waitstaff getting trained at the bar. Looks like Jake's American Grille is fully operational. According to the sheet of paper taped on the door, they are doing a preview type deal on wednesday (2/23) 50% for neighborhood people.

decor appeared to be modernish/industrial meets diner. Exposed duct work etc. with high backed diner style booths, along one side wall. Looked like a long bar along the opposite side wall, and an open-ish kitchen in the back.

No menu posted.

This place is directly across the street from Politics and Prose.

The owner presented the proposed menus at a recent ANC meeting - I can't remember exactly what was on it, but it was fairly typical bar-like fare - burgers, chicken fingers, crab cake, etc. Supposedly they are planning to add a Jazz Brunch on weekends. It is the same owner as the Ugly Mug on Cap Hill, if that is useful from a food comparison standpoint.

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I had the pleasure of attending one of the soft-openings last night, courtesy of Gina Chersevani, and I came away very impressed.

I predict that Jake's American Grille is quickly going to become a neighborhood prize. The menu is pleasantly comfortable, but hardly boring. I very much enjoyed a creamed crab soup and a Vacaro rib-eye steak cooked to perfection, and I'm most anxious to explore the rest of the menu as soon as I can.

Gina created the cocktail menu, and after a couple of her fantastic libations, they could have served me Bird's Eye frozen t.v. dinners and I wouldn't have complained :)

The staff was very friendly and everyone involved whom I met seemed so happy (or perhaps simply relieved? :) ) to be open for business.

The best is yet to come, though. Downstairs, the "Boiler Room" will accommodate many more diners once completed, and on the sidewalk out front, you can see where the permanent patio/atrium is going to be, and that ought to be stunning when spring arrives. I'm really looking forward to seeing the restaurant after they've completed that work.

I'll say right now that Jake's is EXACTLY the sort of restaurant that every neighborhood wants to have, welcoming to singles, couples, and families, and if I lived nearby, as some of my lucky family members and co-workers do, Jake's would quickly become my local.

I'm hardly a tough critic; being in the service industry as long as I have, I simply cannot help but empathize with management and staff, but I've seen enough new places to know who is really trying hard, who really is emotionally invested in the success of a restaurant, from places that are poorly conceptualized, and prioritize fast profits over establishing long-term strong relationships with their customers and their neighborhood. The good folks behind Jake's seem to be doing everything the right way. Will they have growing pains? Probably. Are they breaking any new ground? Maybe, maybe not, but it hardly matters. Jake's is a good place that is only going to get better, and theirs is the kind of success that you cannot help but root for.

If there is an Achilles Heel to Jake's, it is one that is beyond their control: available parking. I lucked out last night, circling the block twice before a minivan pulled out of a spot on Connecticut Avenue very nicely for me, but if you plan upon visiting them on a weekend, be prepared to either take a taxi there or spend some time finding parking in the neighborhood. I would guess that they are about a 10-15 minute walk from the Tenley Circle Metro station, and perhaps about the same from the Van Ness station. Jake's is located in one of the nicest neighborhoods in the city, and it certainly wouldn't bother me, a suburbanite, to have to park a few blocks away and walk there and back. Quite frankly, I can always use the exercise.

My thanks and congratulations to all concerned. I hope to return to Jake's often, and for many years to come.

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Stopped by for a drink tonight to catch up with an old friend. He was pleased with whatever beer he drank (something he can't get in Charleston) and my gin gimlet was fine. The service was attentive leaning toward the over attentive; it was clear our waiter is still getting the feel of his new employer and not over his nerves. But better too much service than not enough.

We only tried the wings and mini wagu burgers. The wings are perfect bar food. The blue cheese dressing is full of chunks of cheese and there was plenty of carrot and celery sticks. The mini burgers were, well, clearly closely related to The Ugly Mug. They came with fries which were fine. All in all, nothing to write home about.

Prices for the mains are in the $20's. In this economy I hope they will be able to stay afloat with prices that high.

I am looking forward to The Boiler Room opening. One can only play so much ping pong with little kids and hipsters.

BTW-parking isn't that hard if you are willing to walk a couple of blocks around the neighborhood.

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we stopped in Sunday late afternoon for a beer to check the place out. We were pretty much the only people there as they were clearly in a lull between brunch and dinner service.

I want to like this place, I mean the options in this neck of the woods are not great and it's an easy walk from my apartment. The space is fairly attractive for a neighborhood joint. The beer selection is solid (I have no problem drinking some Smutty Nose and the Evolution Porter was good)...the cocktail menu looks interesting and they have a good sized wine list with most choices available in 5oz and 8oz pours. I could certainly spend an afternoon drinking some beer and watching a game.

But the menu...ugh. After reading it three times nothing of interested jumped out at me. I know it's not fair to judge a restaurant without trying the food, but seriously, it's one boring menu.

So we went with the truffled steak fries...they were more like large potato wedges, the potato inside was kinda dry, there was some truffle oil flavor and hefty dousing of parm cheese. That's about all I can say about them.

I will go back and explore the menu further, and I am excited to see what they do with the basement bar. Cobble together an more inspired menu and maybe we will have something here.

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Well after more than a year of walking past Jake's we finally decided to take the plunge. The place still has the World's Most Boring Menu...and it doesn't seem like it has changed much since the day it opened. Maybe because it is August and there's no one around but at 7pm on a Saturday night the place was mostly empty.

Food was a mixed bag. The french onion soup was solidly good, nice broth, could have used more onion, cheese could have spent another minute or so under the broiler as it was nicely melted but didn't have those nice little browned tasty bits. I would order it again.

The fish tacos were not good. The blackened tilapia was basicly flavorless, with barely a hint of blackening. I'm envision that they took a piece of tilapia, sprinkled some seasoning on it and then tossed it in the oven to bake for a couple minutes and then chopped it up into pieces and threw it into the taco shells. The guac had the flavor, texture and color of store bought Guac-in-A-Bag. The one good element was the slaw of cabbage, grilled pineapple, and diced tomatoes and jalapeno.

The gf had the crab cobb salad, which was large and salady. She didn't have any complaints.

The couple of steaks and burgers that went by looked to be large and meaty...maybe that's your best bet.

Soup, fish tacos, crab cobb salad, 2 beers came to $60 with tax and tip.

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Well after more than a year of walking past Jake's we finally decided to take the plunge. The place still has the World's Most Boring Menu...and it doesn't seem like it has changed much since the day it opened. Maybe because it is August and there's no one around but at 7pm on a Saturday night the place was mostly empty.

Jake's used to have one of the great unknown bar inventories in upper Northwest, but they made a management decision (a bartender told me this) not to restock any of the interesting items (think: Willet) once they ran out. As for the menu, let's just say that if every restaurant were Jake's, there would be no need for restaurant websites.

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Jake's basement bar, The Boiler Room, is pretty much an entirely different venue than the upstairs restaurant. It's a surprisingly large room that oozes "sports bar" with probably 10 flat screens, decorated with college and pro sport merch, a good amount of seating, a small bar in the back, two dart boards (real dart boards), a pool table and a scattering of video games. If you don't mind kids running around disturbing your Sunday afternoon sports watching and beer drinking then it just might be the best bar on Connecticut Avenue above Cleveland Park. hmmm, ok, I think it's the only bar on Connecticut Avenue above Cleveland Park. But it's a bar that serves beer, and will beam in the DC United game, and serves a half decent quesadilla, and not bad sweet potato fries.

Take what you can get.

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