Since Executive Chef Roger Hayot, formerly of Authentic Café on Beverly Boulevard, joined Marina del Rey’s J. Nichols Kitchen this summer, he has turned up the sophistication factor at the neighborhood diner, incorporating more seasonal, locally sourced ingredients to create a new contemporary comfort food menu.
I had never been to the previous incarnation, so I didn’t have anything to compare it to. But no matter — the new version stands on its own. There’s a little bit of everything on the menu, so if you can’t decide what to have for dinner, then J. Nichols might be the place for you.
Start with the Black Pepper Wings with ginger soy glaze, garlic and black pepper, or get The Del Rey salad, a hearty mix of chicken, kale, mixed greens, pink lady apples, applewood bacon, aged white cheddar, nuts, dried cranberries, egg and a sweet mustard vinaigrette.
The BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich (pictured above), which comes topped with slaw and crispy onions on a pretzel bun, is one of the best I’ve ever had (I’m such a sucker for pretzel buns). The Creamy Chipotle Rigatoni with chicken, mushrooms, corn, cherry tomatoes and a chipotle cream sauce sounds strange but ultimately works. And for dessert, try the bread pudding and the key lime pie — both are made for sharing.
The restaurant also recently introduced Sausage Sundays. From 5 p.m. to close every Sunday night, Chef Hayot will be offering a variety of sausage specialties made in-house – all for under $10 each. The menu will rotate, but expect to see items such as a chicken sausage sandwich with apples, caramelized onions and fried sage; pork and Mexican chorizo posole with corn tortillas; and Asian duck sausage with fried jasmine rice. Pair one of those with a $4 glass of beer, a selection of three rotating brews that might include Scrimshaw Pilsner, Dead Guy Ale or West Coast IPA. Or go on a Tuesday for Pizza & Beer Night, when you’ll get any pizza, salad and two draft beers for $32.
See more photos from J. Nichols Kitchen:
Note: This meal was hosted.