Jimmy's American Cafe Ltd

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by Lori Gruen

This is a no star restaurant. Overpriced below grade food and service bad enough to really piss you off! Don't waste your money or your patience!

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by A-Rog

Jimmy's was, without a doubt, the worst dining experience my wife and I have had in Des Moines. Short version: okay food, terrible service, awful managers, and surprisingly scary neighborhood. Tell your friends to avoid this place at all costs.

Long version: The food was okay, but overpriced, and the patio was a pleasant place to sit until a random sociopathic man started threatening people on the patio for no apparent reason. The evening was ruined, however, by the ABYSMAL staff, server and manager included. It pains me to pin a terrible dining experience on a poor, defenseless server, but she was simply, utterly bad. And from what I can tell, she was backed up a manager who was even worse.

She explained to us that the restaurant was busy and that they were short staffed after the first time she disappeared on us for a solid twenty minutes. We told her not to worry---obvious mistake---and she went off to get our drinks that arrived in, you guessed it, twenty more minutes.

We ordered quesadillas and mozzarella sticks. The food took a long time to arrive, and the sticks were cold, but the quesadillas were tasty and melty. Our friends were satisfied with the chicken finger salad and halibut entre. Three friends joined our group of five as we were eating, and they ordered beers. After fifteen minutes, one of them went to the bar to check on their beers. He ended up ordering the beers from the bar, but the waitress brought the three beers thirty seconds later and did not offer to take them back or comp them. So, the three newcomers were each forced to drink one more beer than they might have intended, and by the time the firsts were gone, the seconds were warm.

By this time, some people might have been making a fuss, but we were relaxed and chatting. Not being totally out of it, however, it was slowly dawning on us that it had been an hour since we arrived. We started to get antsy, so the next time the waitress returned (guess how long, RIGHT! twenty minutes), we gave her our credit cards in order to avoid getting the bill and waiting twenty more minutes to pay. Instead of going directly to run our credit cards and coming back, which for some reason, we expected, she was gone again for fifteen minutes.

In the meantime, for no reason any of us could figure out, a sociopathic person in the parking lot began yelling at our party, threatening us. We told the manager about it while it was happening and he told us he was sorry that it happened, but his tone was unmistakeably, "quit bothering me." (I assume this was Jason, the manager to whom I later spoke. See below.) The sociopath squealed his tires out of the parking lot, and we noticed that he was driving up and down the street in front of the restaurant. Awesome.

My wife, a server herself, is normally fairly patient and forgiving with rushed or even severely lacking service, but she went inside to the restroom to find our server dallying at the bar, not running our checks. She is not forgiving with lazy, careless servers. My wife glared, asked for the checks, and came back to the table. At this point, we all felt like hostages. All we wanted to do was leave.

When the server returned, she left before we noticed that our bills were obviously too high. We waited ten more minutes for her to come back. Now, since we had been there more than an hour and a half, I went in to ask for itemized bills. Our server was standing in the kitchen waiting for food. I assumed the food was almost ready, and she would be right out, so I milled around waiting for her to come out. She stood in the kitchen doing nothing, for two minutes. Two minutes may sound nitpicky, but she had neglected our table, and probably her other tables, all night, and we just wanted to pay and leave. So, I walked in the kitchen and asked for itemized bills.

She returned with the bills surprisingly quickly, and from looking at them, we discovered that she had added gratuity for a party of eight. Now, if you noticed earlier, we were a party of five for dinner with three joining us for what should have been after dinner drinks. Adding gratuity was absolutely ridiculous. Fed up, and finally having been allowed to pay, we signed the bill and stormed out. My wife muttered something about worst service ever, and our friends who stayed a bit longer than we did to finish their warm beer said the server cried and told them her manager made her add gratuity. To Megan, if that's true, we are sorry. We didn't mean to make you cry, but maybe serving isn't for you.

So, today, I called Jimmy's to report the terrible experience, and I talked to Jason the manager. I can only guess that this black hole of a human being was the gratuity-adding, I-could-care-less-you-are-being-verbally-assaulted-on-the-patio manager we encountered at the restaurant last night, because after every lacking detail that I told him, he repeated, "I'm sorry," with the unmistakeable tone, "Sir, go F yourself." When I asked him if he would make things right and possibly convince us to come back with a gift certificate, he said he wished I had told him of our experience last night. Now, instead of making things right, he has made it my mission to convince everyone I can to avoid such a ruinous dining experience. I think I owe it to the nice people living in the greater Des Moines area. (The food is overpriced as it is.) So, join me and tell all of your friends, Jimmy's is a terrible, terrible place. Terrible. If there were an option for zero stars, that would be my rating.

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by Tony

Great place for drinks and dinner with friends. Fun atmosphere, with more adult feel. Dishes are done well. Beware, the prices are high.

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by A and D

Jimmy’s American Café
1238 8th Street
West Des Moines
515-224-1212
Lunch: Monday through Friday 11 a.m-5 p.m.
Dinner: Sunday through Thursday, 5-10 p.m., Friday and Saturday dinner till 11 p.m.
Brunch: Saturday 11 a.m.-2 p.m; Sunday; 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Jimmy’s American Café has always been somewhat of a mystery—the place is always busy but several trips for both lunch and dinner indicate the crowds and apparent loyalty has to be based on something other than a great dining experience. Menu prices are high considering the quality of the food served. Dinner entrees are $14 for chicken and $24-26 for higher-end beef dishes. A full rack of back ribs is $21 and pasta dishes are in the $15 range.

“A” has eaten at Jimmy’s on several occasions for both lunch and dinner. Lunch has generally included a dish that features Jimmy’s signature chicken fingers, a deep fried presentation of moist, meaty tenders served with honey mustard dressing. Dinner outings have sampled prime rib and pasta entrees. “D” has only experienced lunch at Jimmy’s and that lunch will be the main issue in this review.

Before we launch into our experience, “A” would like to caution diners ordering the prime rib, if you like it medium rare, order it rare. “A”’s request for medium rare brought a plate that was medium and then some, lacking in flavor and bordering on tough. The cut also was very fatty.

The décor at Jimmy’s hasn’t changed much in several years—it is sort of ‘pubby-clubby’—semi-comfortable booths and tables with uncomfortable, narrow arm chairs. The only thing that is mildly irritating is the white paper used for table toppers. We would rather have a nice laminate top table rather than the stiff white butcher paper. Thankfully, our server was not compelled to write her name upside down with any of the crayons residing in a cup in the center of the table. Wait staff is adequate although we had the distinct impression our server would rather have been elsewhere doing something more enlightening—like knitting milk bottles, for example. There were no inquiries about our meal once it was served, no offers for refills on iced tea and the check presented without so much as a “thanks.”

“A” ordered the chicken fingers on greens salad and “D” decided to try the grilled salmon salad. The chicken fingers on greens lived up to prior experiences however many of the greens in the salad base were well past their prime. There is just no excuse for serving greens that are slimy, and finding one or two crisp nuggets of lettuce that didn’t taste like they had sat in an open refrigerator were far and few between.

There is something amiss when you can smell your lunch before it arrives at the table, and we don’t mean that in a good way. Both of us could smell the salmon on “D’s” salad almost when it came from the kitchen. Being a good sport and a kindly person, “D” tasted some of it and said—while it was not obscenely spoiled—it wasn’t anywhere near as fresh as it should have been. Again, the greens used as the base for the salad were also well past their prime.

Aside from marginal food and indifferent service, we had one other real surprise during our luncheon at Jimmy’s. A party of four was seated in a nearby booth and one member of the party brought in her dog to lie at her feet while she ate. Maybe we missed a new law on the books that permits something other than service animals in restaurants but we think not. If it is too cold or too hot to leave your pet in the car, leave it at home or eat at a drive-in. Lest we judge too hastily, perhaps this woman owned one of the rare Seeing Eye Yorkshire Terriers one hears about so often. Let us simply say that dogs do not belong in restaurants…cats maybe and perhaps the occasional Cockatiel, but definitely not dogs! What about a restaurant manager who allows animals in the dining room in the first place?

If you’re in the mood for dining on really marginal food served by indifferent wait staff, Jimmy’s is just your cup of tea.

Rating 1
Quality; marginal
Service: poor
Value; moderate
Recommended: no

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Dennis T.

The food SUCKS here. I'm thinking it's going out of business soon...

2 people have done this