816 Sherman Ave., Coeur d'Alene
Personally, I've never really had a nickname that stuck with me. When I was just a wee moppet, my mother would occasionally refer to me fondly as her little "Stinky McGooberkins", but if anyone called me that now, they'd most likely get shanked in the spleen with the business end of a broken bottle of Jägermeister. On the other hand, Tim Mitchell, owner of downtown Coeur d'Alene's newly opened Jonesy's restaurant had a childhood nickname that he thinks still rocks. According to the Jonesy's Facebook info, the name on the sunny yellow sign out front is what has always made Mitchell's head turn and say "huh?" every time someone says it. Kind of like how I usually respond when someone says "hey, bitch".
I've already spilled a ton of pixels on this blog about the black luck voodoo curse that seems to hang over this particular downtown building. Last September, the disastrous Sherman Junction was just opening its doors for a sad two and half month flounce, and I wrote optimistically, "Welcome Sherman Junction, and thanks for providing the chance to return to an old favorite place so we can once again enjoy a relaxing meal and take in that iconic, comforting old view of Sherman Avenue from behind those enormous picture windows."
It wasn't a complete surprise when they went tits-up. At least a dozen good intentions have been laid to waste over the years within the corridors of 816 Sherman Avenue since it was constructed in the mid 1970's. My recent visit to Jonesy's did give me a serious case of deja vu all over again, but I'm a positive kinda guy, so I'm going to repeat myself (literally) and say, "Welcome Jonesy's, and thanks for providing the chance to return to an old favorite place so we can once again enjoy a relaxing meal and take in that iconic, comforting old view of Sherman Avenue from behind those enormous picture windows."
It may be too early to get a good feel about whether or not Joney's is on the right path to betray the hex, but I will say that as far as I can tell, they're off to a generally fine, if a bit jittery start. While I can't come up with anything to be directly catty about, my Sunday morning solo breakfast there didn't necessarily compel me to perform ecstatic delectation rituals for Ganesha either.
It might just be me, but I can't really see where Jonesy's has really done anything different with what Sherman Junction had going on interior-wise. The 4000 square foot eatery kept the same ho hum pale yellow walls, washed-out moss green valances and generic grey berber loop-pile carpeting.
It's not uncomfortable at all, in fact in a way, the space's simplicity and lack of hype is somewhat refreshing, it just seems slightly devoid of personality and could seriously use some magic swishery from David Bromstad, host of HGTV's makeover show "Colorsplash", who often proves that it doesn't take a lot of cash to create a unique interior. However, Jonesy's still wins bonus flair points for the huge, colorful chalk mural of their menu that greets diners upon entry.
The nifty wooden counter is also a holdover, and that's where I chose to land rather than wait the approximately 15 minutes to get a booth by the window. The place was pretty hopping and it was entertaining to watch the cook and his prep guy scamper about quite effectively directly across from me in the open kitchen. I ordered the Country Fried Steak and my order arrived fast, landing on my rooster place mat with a reassuring thud.
I sat there looking at my food forlornly and a little bewildered until after a few minutes, the guy sitting at the counter next to me, a total stranger, noticed my dilemma and offered to give me his rolled up napkin full of knife, fork, and spoon. Charitable indeed, and I nearly felt like handing him my waiter's future tip for his troubles, but I resisted asking him if I could have his toast too.
My waiter swooshed by behind me at one point and I asked to my toast, please. He disappeared back into the kitchen and made a few fresh slices himself, leaving the rejecto toast withering under the lamp. He was friendly enough, and once I started digging into my food, I was in a forgiving state of mind.
Not that the my breakfast was overly divine, but it was winning for the most part. Everything was quite obviously home made from scratch, no frozen hash browns or mysterious eggs poured from a carton here. Some might call the country steak a bit on the wee side, but personally, I don't always like having some huge monster in front of me that makes me feel like I have to finish it all and end up feeling Kirstie-Alley-at-the-Chinese-Buffet full.
My only beef was with the hash browns - I always prefer the option of O'Brien style action, and these were the shredded kind, a bit too on the un-crispy side with a bit that stringy, soggy, par-hard texture in the middle that I just can never really get with. Like the decor, my meal was agreeable and un-fussy, but lacked a noticeable amount of jazz and personality. Will I be back? Most likely, yes.
The menu itself, printed in a plain black font on plain white paper, covers the typical waterfront of reasonably priced breakfast and lunch diner items, but also suffers from an absence of anything dynamic. Denver Omelet, Western Scramble, Biscuits and Gravy, Spaghetti & Meatballs, Tuna Melt, Club Sandwich, Fish & Chips, Chef Salad. Classics all, but quite bare bones, although in a way I do admire the direct approach to naming items, contrary to many places which cause eyerolls galore with their flowery approach to naming the basics.
The one place where they do strike gold on this front is with the burgers, which according to the menu were "named after some of our favorite people". I've no idea who Rooster, Nae Nae, Best Bud and the "Veg-a-nater" (I'm not touching that one) are, but at least they've inspired some fun in an otherwise overly basic production.
Jonesy's is open for business from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily (closed Mondays).