Toledo is a food city— almost every culture and nationality is represented in restaurant or street vendor form. So it’s easy to understand if you haven’t been to J’mae’s Home Cooking yet. Open since 2013, it’s relatively new— but it has an old soul. Michelle Tarrant, Jaleo Young and Geside Hunter started J’mae’s as a family joint named after— and inspired by— the recipes of Tarrant’s mother, J’mae. Hiding in the back of her sister’s station wagon in Selma, Alabama, J’mae smuggled herself up to Ohio with a collection of incredible soul food recipes. Years later, Tarrant’s son suggested that the family use those recipes and open a restaurant that would go on to be a finalist in our 2016 Dining Awards.
Sadly, J’mae didn’t live to see the opening of the restaurant that bears her name, but as Tarrant says, “Her spirit is here with us every day.”
Side: Mac & Cheese.
Tarrant’s personal favorite, the meatloaf here is on another level of loafed meats. Two big cuts smothered in what tastes like brown sugar glaze, makes this entrée option almost dessert-like. As a self-professed “meatloaf expert,” I declare this to be the best meatloaf I’ve ever had. Turns out, I knew nothing about good meatloaf before this. And as a fan of pairing foods to harness the tastes together, the mac & cheese was stellar with the meatloaf.
Entrée: Chicken Wings:
Side: Collard Greens
“Crispy” is de rigueur when talking about fried chicken, and these wings find a good balance between crispy and juicy. In short, they aren’t too dry or too salty. The real delight here is the collard greens. With turkey meat mixed in, it ups the complexity of the flavors and gave me a whole new way to eat my vegetables.
Entrée: Roast Beef
Side: Dirty Rice
Another gravy-smothered option, the roast beef is beyond tender and flavorful. I pretty much just had to show it the side of my fork and it fell into bite-sized pieces. Like all the entrées, this one makes for a belly-filling meal. And the dirty rice, also with turkey, is delicious. It doesn’t seem fair to have to pick from this many savory sides.
Entrée: Pork Chops
Side: Yams & potato salad
When the J’mae’s staff found out we hadn’t ordered the yams or the sweet potatoes, they insisted we try both. I don’t do eggy foods, but my wife hoarded the potato salad and declared it “amazing.” The yams, soft and sweet, are now a must-order on my return visits. The huge, fried porkchops are enhanced with hot sauce.
Anything called “Millionaire Pie” earns my attention. It’s like your grandma’s ambrosia salad, topped with a little coconut, then placed on a pie crust. In case I didn’t make it clear, this is a strong “yes.”
Red Velvet Cake
This is important— the cake flavor was not overwhelmed by the cream cheese frosting. A lot of red velvet cakes miss the mark on that. You won’t have that problem here.
Hands down, our favorite dessert. Like a mishmash of bananas and ‘Nilla wafers, this sweet meal unto itself is the kind of food that makes me happy to be calorically challenged(fat).
There’s a reason the J’mae’s staff insisted we try the apple cobbler– it is a Southern treasure brought to Ohio. Other states should be so lucky.
The Bottom Line: Absolutely go! And if you are too lazy to make the trek to the Polish Village, rest assured that in November, they are opening a new location in the Glendale and Byrne area.
11am-9pm | J’Mae’s Home Cooking | 3117 LaGrange St.
419-241-7779 | facebook.com/Jmaes-Home-Cooking-477502982320587/