In the movie, I Love You, Man, a pivotal scene occurs when the Paul Rudd character and Jason Segel character bond over fish tacos at a place called James’ Beach. Jason Segel’s character declares them “the best in the world,” which is quite a claim. Fortunately, James Beach is a real place in Venice and last weekend I took a bike ride with my lady and her lady to see just how great those fish tacos were. Jason Segel hadn’t led me wrong since Freaks and Geeks (except for Bad Teacher) and I hoped he wouldn’t this time.
After taking our seats, our waiter brought us a basket of scones with some raspberry jam. Of the bread world, scones aren’t exactly my favorite, but these were pretty good and so was the jam. Plus, they were the first things I ate all day, so at that point just about any dried up bread would have been acceptable.
The fish tacos were a whopping $19, which is expensive even by LA standards. Yet, that’s what we were there for and we had to power through the price. They were served with all ingredients separated out in a “make your own taco” kind of format. There was a decent amount of fish, which was mahi mahi, accompanied by guacamole, black beans, pico de gallo, tortillas, a lime and tomatillo salsa. As I’m not the biggest fan of fish, I grabbed a little piece and put together a taco of guac, black beans and tomatillo salsa.
The result was a pretty good fish taco. It didn’t taste fishy at all, plus the guac and salsa were quite good. But was it the best fish taco ever? I really don’t know. What I do know is that I did not finish eating the taco and sit back to reflect upon how good that food was that just dropped down into my belly. When I have the best (fill in the blank) ever, that’s what I expect to do. This is not to say it was bad, but it does mean that my man, Jason Segel, over-hyped the taco.
But we also got their Fontina Mac and Cheese, which was an interestingly tasty dish. On top you could still see outlines of the slices of cheese, which were thick and strong in flavor, while the inside was the complete reverse and creamy as all hell. The blend of textures and peppery seasoning joined together to make a pretty great mac and cheese that was definitely more impressive to me than the fish tacos.
So while the fish tacos didn’t impress, the mac and cheese was definitely a winner. James’ Beach wound up in the realm of pretty good restaurants, in my mind, but not exactly the type that made me want to run home and write about.