Written by Ron Birnbach – The Abbot Kinney location has closed. L.A. Art Party sampled the food at the Willie Jane Restaurant at 1031 Abbot Kinney Blvd. in Venice at the invitation of owner Linda Ayles-Johnson, who told us she was making some changes to the menu. Willie Jane specializes in Southern soul food cooking.
We went at happy hour, and the joint was pretty jumping for a quiet Weds. afternoon. We sat out on the back patio where the decor is very lush and homey, and this seemed to be the location of choice for many happy hour attendees.
In addition to well drinks, beer, and wine, each week Willie Jane mixologist concocts a special Drink of the Week. When we were there, it was the “Smith & Wesson”, a very tasty blend of bourbon, vermouth, and cardamaro. Loved it.
Next we ordered a few happy hour dishes, the Deviled Eggs (with smoked bacon and trout roe), the Peel & Eat BBQ Spiced Shrimp, and the Just Baked Biscuit (with local honey and fresh butter). All three were amazing, though we feel the need to tell Chef Govind Armstrong that the Spiced Shrimp was some of the best we’ve ever tried.
Other Happy Hour (4-7 p.m.) delights include Smoked Chicken Wings with Spicy BBQ Aioli, Bar Burger, Iced Oysters, and Kale & Citrus Salad.
Happy Hour prices are reasonable, mostly in the $7 to $10 range, with drinks (including the Drink of the Week) mostly $6.
For our main course, we tried the Pork Ribs, Black Eyed Pea & Charred Onion Salad and Mary’s Fried Chicken & Waffle, which is the specialty of the house, along with a side of Fried Brussel Sprouts, Local Pears & Magic Peanuts.
Don’t know what was magic about the peanuts or who Mary is, but it was all delicious — especially the Fried Chicken & Waffle, which is prepared in some kind of spicy sauce and gives Roscoe’s a run for its money.
Other main course selections include Shrimp & Grits, Blackened Salmon, Curried Oxtail, Crispy Pork Chop and Grilled Hanger Steak.
Prices range from $10 to $28, not bad for Abbot Kinney!
Willie Jane is open daily from 4 p.m. to midnight, and on Sat. and Sun., they have a special brunch from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. which features bottomless mimosas for $15, in addition to food specials.