Pictured: The Robert McCabe photograph which hangs behind the bar at Jimmy’s Taverna/
When you walk into Jimmy’s Taverna, the newest restaurant at Sierra Nevada Resort on Old Mammoth Road which opened over the Christmas holiday, the first thing you may notice as you walk in is the arresting, back-lit photograph mounted behind the bar.
Two men sit in the foreground, talking, while a cargo ship looms large behind them, just departed, seemingly drowning out whatever conversation they’re having.
Every time I go to Jimmy’s, I can’t help but sit there and invent a different conversation.
Like everything at Jimmy’s, there is a history and intent behind the photograph. It is not random.
The photographer, Robert McCabe, is well known. According to Sierra Nevada Resort owner Jim Demetriades, McCabe’s work has appeared in the Louvre as well as at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art.
McCabe visited Greece in the early ‘50s, traveling the country via tramp steamer.
Demetriades became acquainted with McCabe through his father, and McCabe was an early investor in Demetriades’s software company.
In turn, McCabe introduced Demetriades to another early investor, the legendary Peter Lynch.
The driving idea behind Jimmy’s is that of old Greece. The crusted marble floor in the main dining room represents the outside of a Greek taverna; the yellow fixtures in the string lights represent the sun, and the blue stone at the bar is meant to evoke a seaside setting.
“We want to give people all these different vibes while they’re up in the mountains,” he said.
Executive Chef Kerry Mechler, who oversees Jimmy’s (as well as the property’s other restaurants, Rafters and the Red Lantern), said, “We knew this was coming [Jimmy’s] long before construction commenced, so we did early reconnaissance at several Greek restaurants in California and Las Vegas … we ran Greek dining specials at Rafters for more than a year, as we continued to develop the menu … a lot of it has been trial-and-error. It took us a little longer to develop the menu because it’s a different taste for a lot of us, but opening the restaurant has also been easier in a sense because we learned lessons opening the previous two.”
Jimmy’s chef Dympna Roman started as a pastry chef at Rafters. When she was planning her honeymoon last year, Demetriades suggested that she honeymoon in Greece – on his dime – to gain firsthand knowledge.
General Manager Jack Carter said the goal all along has been to create a relaxed, fun, friendly environment. “Nothing’s overcomplicated. Jimmy’s is about quality ingredients cooked well.”
A unique element that sets Jimmy’s apart is the cocktail selection. Demetriades has brought in Noah Ellis (who used to work out of Red Medicine in Beverly Hills and has worked closely with Michael Mina opening bars in all his restaurants) to develop a boutique cocktail selection featuring liquors no one else in town carries.
Jim’s Top Five
1. Saganaki (Appetizer): Pan fried Kefalograviera, Lemon & Oregano. Translation: It’s a baked cheese flamed with ouzo and served on a super-hot platter
2. Wood Grilled Whole Fish (Main Course), served with rice pilaf, rapini, grilled lemon and extra virgin olive oil. Jim’s favorite: The Sea Bream.
3. Wood Grilled Vegetables (Appetizer), particularly the thinly sliced fried eggplant and zucchini.
4. Lamb Shank (Main Course), slow braised, with orzo pasta, grilled heirloom carrots and Myzitbra cheese.
5. Galaktoboureko (Dessert): Vanilla Bean custard with a Filo crust and Rose sweet spoon.
(Photo: Susan Morning)