Jimella1ABOUT HALFWAY UP THE LONG BEACH PENINSULA on the southwest Washington coast, in rather unprepossessing territory*, you’ll happen across Jimella’s Seafood Market & Cafe, gemlike yet equally low key, a keen practitioner of things local, fresh, organic, slow and sustainable. And let’s add REMARKABLY FLAVORABLE to the list (sure, why not, in all caps). You see, the owners, Jimella Lucas (she cooks) and Nanci Main (she bakes), own and ran the critically acclaimed Ark restaurant up the road in Nahcotta for more than 20 years. Worth the trip if you’re in this Lewis-and-Clark end-of-the-trail windswept-and-wild landscape? Absolutely. And it’s off the scale in green goodness! “Thank you for buying local,” a sign above the front door reads, “we’ll pay it forward.”

WHAT JIMELLA’S PRACTICES IS NOTHING NEW—and that’s entirely okay. As Michael Pollan reminds us in The Omnivore’s Dilemma (New York: Penguin Books, 2006):

This informal alliance of small farmers and local chefs is something you find in many cities these days. Indeed, ever since Alice Waters opened Chez Panisse in Berkeley in 1973, chefs have been instrumental in helping rebuild local food economies all over America. Waters made a point of sourcing much of her food from local organic growers, cooked only what was in season, and shone a bright light of glamour on the farmers, turning many of them into menu celebrities. Chefs like Waters have also done much to educate the public about the virtues of local agriculture, the pleasures of eating by the season, and the superior qualities of exceptionally fresh food grown with care and without chemicals.

Jimella sign1This encapsulates a great deal of what tastefully transpires at Jimella’s, from sourcing fresh eggs hatched just a few blocks away and local greens straight off a nearby farm in Naselle to buying directly from local fishermen (clams, oysters, crabs, sturgeon, salmon, etc.) and serving a house blend of coffee (Luca Dark and Duo) produced by Columbia River Coffee Roasters in Astoria, just across that selfsame mighty river in Oregon. These are the type of practices Lucas and Main first established to great acclaim at the Ark back in 1983 (they’ve even brought some of their old Ark staff aboard Jimella’s). What started as a market-cum-bistro has expanded (as much as space allows) to accommodate discriminating diners now more cognizant that these indeed are the gourmet gals from the Ark and ain’t they cooking up something mighty fine! That said, keep in mind that there are only about eight tables at Jimella’s and they can fill up fast.

What’s also commendable about Jimella’s is its market half: you’ll find lots of local delicacies that you might have a hard time knocking from the shelf of a grocery store anytime soon. This includes, and the list is in flux by its very nature, Ekone Oyster Company smoked oysters, Sentinel Teriyaki Sauce, Dick’s Danger Ale, Mama Nano’s Caponata (a tomato-based vegetable relish) and a fine selection of area wines, cheeses and various sauces, hot, spicy and otherwise. This half of Jimella’s evokes a small country market, a remnant of a bygone era, but, unlike mere dusty nostalgia, it provides ideal accompaniments for the glittering fresh seafood on display, ready for immediate purchase and your evening’s repast.

Seafood signLucas and Main view community and cooperation as key ingredients to success. They’re part and parcel of the tandem’s way of thinking, acting and sharing. “We send people to other restaurants on the peninsula,” Main said in the Chinook Observer last fall. “It’s a community, especially with regard to our fellow restauranteurs. Cooperation is so important. It’s the key to success in a small community. We all work together.” And regarding Jimella’s success: “Word of mouth in a small community is more effective than a truck with a loudspeaker driving through town. And it helps people get used to a new menu that’s different from the Ark.”

My experience at Jimella’s? Let’s just say, as a quick lunch break on an August weekend getaway, I feasted upon a fabulous clam chowder that triumphed in its simplicity, flavor and lack of smothering overcreaminess; and a delightful sandwich of fresh leafy greens and thinly sliced artisan salami with ideal tang and enough substance to power a mountain bike ride from bay to breakers and then some. Suffice it to say, I look forward to a return visit soon and helping them “pay it forward.”

The scoop on Jimella’s
21712 Pacific Way
Klipsan Beach, WA 98640
Lunch: Wed.-Sun. 11-3
Dinner: Thu.-Sat. 5:30-8:30
Brunch: Sun. 11-3

*As it is along Pacific Way, aka the Ocean Beach Highway, and lacks a view of either the Pacific Ocean or Willapa Bay. This is not to denigrate the rather charming hamlet of Klipsan Beach, home of an 1890s life-saving station that still stands and is on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.


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