You know those days when you just feel, well, kind of basic? You can’t quite bring yourself to get properly dressed, let alone cook any food. All you want to do is eat pizza and rich comfort food without ever fully emerging from your doona. Luckily, Jimmi Jamz has no qualms about people taking a chilled approach to dining – this relatively new opening at the top end of Lygon Street is cheap, casual and runs some happy hour deals that shouldn’t be missed. It probably isn’t going to set Brunswick East alight, but I don’t think it seeks to. However, it is likely to make a few friends as the Sunday session crowd settles in for the afternoon – and we are looking forward to seeing the huge outdoor courtyard put to good use when the weather warms up.
There are ten house pizzas (we opted for the tomato and mozzarella with boccocini and basil salad) priced between $6.90 and $9.90. It is when it arrives on a wooden board that we click – we have had these pizzas (and seen a menu this cheap and cheerful before). Yep, the owners of Banff in St Kilda have set up shop here in East Brunswick. Only the Lygon Street surrounds are less shabby and much, much bigger. There’s a huge space, which sadly even outdoor heaters couldn’t tempt people out when we visited on one of the coldest nights of the year so far. But there is a wood burner inside the whole atmosphere is a little bit smalltown America – kind of like a place you might pull up to when making a long interstate drive and are in need a a friendly face and a reasonable, reliable feed.
And this is why Jimmi Jamz is such a welcome addition to the strip. The bars here are a real draw, but where do you eat when you are feeling broke? Bar Idda and Kumo Izakaya serve some great food, and Rumi is one of our new-found faviourites, but understandably they are mid-range. Of course Kake Di Hatte is a perennial favourite, and curry is comfort food. But at Jimmi Jamz the comfort food is of the big American variety.
Off the more adventurous, they say ‘board’ pizzas, we ordered Korean BBQ beef, mozzarella, caramelised onion and spiced mayo. Needed a bit more heat but overall a decent-size serve of rich beef on a thin and crispy base with lashings of mayo to add extra moisture.
The rest of the menu features pasta dishes, salad bowls and sustenance (mains). We ordered the winter-braised (read slow-cooked) lamb shanks which came with wedges of semolina gnocchi and a deliciously soft serve of sweated-down carrots and other veggies that we (admittedly) didn’t take the time to identify as we stuffed the falling-of-the-bone meat into our mouths. Two people could easily share it as a main and it cost just $17.90. One of the best examples of using a cheaper cut to create a tasty and affordable meal we have seen all year.
Sadly, it seems no one is immune to the brioche bun slider obsession that has the city so enraptured. But to be fair, burgers belong in Jimmi Jamz and at least slider-sized serves mean you can mix and match or try other sections of the menu. We ordered the Southern pulled pork, red cabbage slaw and BBQ sauce variety – $9.90 for two. Like the Korean pork pizza, it didn’t pack a huge punch, but it was juicy and satisfying.
And to finish? Although we were craving the elasticated waistbands of our own pyjamas, we couldn’t look past the five desserts (all $7.90 each) so went for the Oreo puff pizza – dough scattered with crushed Oreos and hazelnut chocolate sauce. Naughtiness on a plate.
Booze is cheap too, cleanskin wines are the only option (we said this wasn’t fin dining, didn’t we) and come in at $5.50 a glass or $20 a bottle). And the usual suspects (sadly uninspired) are present on the beer front – Little Creatures, Tiger, Brunswick Bitter.
The decor is unfussy with band posters on the walls, oversized lampshades and wood and brick all over the place – warm, inviting and unpretentious.
175 Lygon Street
Brunswick East 3057
Tel: 03 9388 0146