Barbara Jean is absolutely food for the soul, with its many takes on traditional Southern Cuisine, every bite has an extra punch, with very flavorful nuances.
Located in the fun, trendy fashion section of Melrose Ave. In the back patio of the Melrose Umbrella Co., lies a dim, wood-lined bar. The retractable roof makes for some sunshine in the day, or coziness in the evening. I was seated out on the patio, and although there was a hint of chilly breeze, the heat lamps really made for a comfortable and pleasant dining experience. My server Lindsay was knowledgeable and to the point about this thoroughly modern cuisine.
About Chef Jason Fulliove:
Jason Fullilove grew up in Ohio where he began his culinary career working in country clubs and restaurants. Recognizing his true passion, he relocated to New York where he studied at the prestigious Culinary Institute of America. Armed with a solid technical background he ventured out onto the New York restaurant scene. He earned the position of Head Restaurant Chef at Mangia, followed by Executive Sous Chef at Isabella’s. Longing to expand the depth of his culinary vision, he traveled to the Caribbean and served as the Chef de Cuisine at the illustrious Ritz Carlton on St. Thomas. At last he found himself in California with a list of accolades to his credit. Such endeavors include Chef de Cuisine for The Gorbals, Executive Chef at Da Vinci, stints at Malibu Pier, as well as a Catering Chef for The Patina Group, executive chef at elite restaurant Campanile and also at Patina Restaurant Group’s LACMA Café. He went on to become executive chef for the high profile reopening of Clifton’s Cafeteria.
On Feb. 24th – 2017 Barbara Jean began as a pop-up with Chef Jason Fullilove at the helm, he’s reviving many classics with a contemporary spin, like black-eyed pea bisque, charred okra, and saffron poached apples. He’s embracing his love for the farm to table philosophy, integrating modern cooking techniques such as charring and fermentation. Chef Jason Fullilove’s innovation uses ancient grains, limes, pumpkins, and a myriad of root vegetables, to act as a healthy conduit to his more Southern type recipes. Assuredly he will entice the palate with flavor combinations anyone has yet to even conceptualize.
This is a great “permanent brick-and-mortar” restaurant, Fullilove has found a home, where he’s doing his food on his terms. No more pop-ups, he doesn’t need a big blockbuster restaurant because he’s got the freedom to serve whatever he pleases at the 45-seat Barbara Jean. This means celebrating his African-American roots while simultaneously showcasing his formidable cooking skills.
Fullilove is a chef who still enjoys changing things up on the regular. He’s always tweaking his dinner and weekend brunch menus, based on the availability of “locally farmed, wild and foraged ingredients.”
Here’s what I tried:
Barbara Jean’s Signature Cocktails:
Melrose Mule: Vodka Lime, Blood Orange, Ginger, and Cinnamon Syrup. A pretty strong cocktail, but very refreshing all the same.
Midnight Market: Zaya Aged Rum, Lemon, Teeling’s Irish Whiskey, Watermelon, and Coconut La Croix. You feel like you are on a deserted island, filled with sunshine, the rum will make your forget all of your troubles.
Mezcall Me Banana: Mezcal or Tequila, Prickly Pea, Lime Grapefruit, Banana, Habanero Salt, and Charred Rosemary. For the margarita drinker this one will really make you fall in love, it hits all the rights notes.
These are the Wines I tried:
“Locations”, Red Blend – Merlot – Syrah – Petit Syrah.
Washington. This is a nice blend, and accompanied with the brisket it is a no-brainer.
“Locations”, White – Chardonnay – Northern California. This is a very buttery, creamy Chardonnay; it went well with the lobster in the Lobster Mac n Cheese.
What I tried from the To Start options:
Watercress Salad: grapefruit, avocado, bacon bits, endive, and tossed with grapefruit dressing. This is a very healthy refreshing salad. One that you, like me, will eat the whole thing. Truly delicious and a must have at Barbara Jean.
Deviled Pumpkin: sourdough, roast pumpkin, pomegranate, and ground chestnuts. This is a very filling menu item, and so fall, I just loved the colors.
Curry Fried Chicken, with Thai red chili aioli, and house made pickles. Something you only dream about, curry and fried chicken, what a concept. The visual on this is off the charts and once you get these darlings in your mouth you will know why Chef Jason Fullilove has this huge hit on his hands.
Heirloom Tomato & Fig: local heirloom tomatoes, mascarpone, fig vincotto, and tarragon. Truly a work of art, and the many nuances dance in your palate, of course the Mascarpone is the centerpiece.
Hushpuppies, with truffle honey. Another worldly feat, done with such elegance, your taste buds will forever be in your debt.
Caramelized Brussels Sprouts, with apple chutney. These little gems are all the rage and Barbara Jean’s version does not disappoint. It’s health, meaty, its got all the bells and whistles and more.
Buttermilk Biscuits, with honey, butter, and seas salt. These biscuits are a big mystery, I know they are hard to make, a true Southern accomplishment. The butter and honey round out the goodness; if you’re not a Southern Bell these biscuits will make you be a convert.
What I tried off of the “From the Sea” choices:
Lobster Mac N’ Cheese, with Gremolata and sharp cheddar. A no-nonsense Lobster Mac n Cheese, you get lots of lobster and the cheesy bites will make you a Mac n Cheese lover for sure.
What I tried off the “From the Farm” options:
12 Hour Braised BBQ Brisket, with poached apples, natural jus, asparagus, carrots, and chestnuts. This is melt in your mouth brisket, and the accompaniment are bold yet delicate, with this great natural jus, simply amazing.
Hummingbird Cake, with banana, pineapple cake and cream cheese frosting. This cake is very light and fluffy, kind of like a carrot cake, but the dripping caramel makes for one fantastic dessert.
The atmosphere is like a speakeasy, but with an Americana flare. You almost feel like you could be in someone’s backyard, or their elegant patio, but very cozy and casual. Music enhances the vibe, with Amy Winehouse and Justin Timberlake playing loud enough to enjoy. In the South they use butcher paper on dining tables for a cookout, and Barbara Jean does the same homespun thing. Many frames without art in them adorn the walls, kind of a secret why they do this, but super creative.
Named after Jason Fullilove’s mother, Barbara Jean is really a great find! Every foodie in Los Angeles must come and enjoy this gastronomic experience. I’m really not the queen of all knowing when it comes to food, but this restaurant makes me proudly want to wear a crown. Come and enjoy the atmosphere, the food and libations, it will put you exactly where you want to be, heaven.
7465 Melrose Ave Los Angeles
* Note some content was taken off of their website.