The building has been around for a while. It used to be a general store and butcher’s shop. The old ice block cooler remains at the back of the dining room, a beautiful wooden cabinet with a series of latched windows for sliding ice blocks into place once they were delivered by horse and buggy. And inside of that room-sized refrigerator is a lovingly retrofitted private dining area, with a rustic barn stall interior and a warm, cozy vibe.
The entire space shares a sense of comfortable familiarity and creates the impression that you’re seeing a fresh and personal approach to something with a tried and true history. It’s an ethos that pervades everything as you scan the menu at J. Fleming’s Absolutely Delicious.
Chef John populates his plates with a series of classic dishes that each bears a trademark flavor-forward flare. He founded his menu on the philosophy that American cuisine is a product of the melting pot of cultures that make up this nation, so you’ll find a little bit of everything that he loves after 30 years in the kitchen.
We love it when a chef fearlessly leans into really strong flavors, and Chef John went for it right off the bat with Garlic Shrimp Cheese Toast. The name says it all. It’s a toasted crostini covered with garlic spread, topped with a fresh cooked shrimp, and blanketed in a layer of warm melted cheese. It’s the kind of beautiful garlic hit that makes you immediately thirsty while the shrimp and toast textures play off of each other. This is such a sought after appetizer that it’s used as incentive for following J. Fleming’s on social media, with a complimentary serving offered upon signing up.
We moved from one house favorite to another. J. Fleming’s Cuban Pork Sandwich was awarded the Reader’s Choice Best Sandwich for 2016 on mysuburbanlife.com. This thing is delicious. Thinly sliced roast pork and capicola ham is layered with melted Emmenthal Swiss and Gruyere cheeses and topped with Cuban mojo mayo, mustard, sliced onion, plum tomato, and pickles. From the juicy meat to the crunch of the bread, it’s indulgent and satisfying with a bright pop from the pickle and an herbaceous lingering heat from the mojo mayo. It’s served with a side of crisp, buttery, thin-cut fries.
The Cavatappi al Greco was another welcome foray into deep garlic flavors, this time in a pasta setting. Thick, al dente cavatappi noodles soak in a white wine, garlic, and olive oil sauce. Strips of marinated chicken breast bring a nice hearty protein to the plate. The flavors are rounded out with spinach, roasted red peppers, feta cheese crumbles, and pine nuts. Delivered piping hot and paired with a glass of white wine, this dish delivers the garlic goods.
From the Entrées portion of the menu, we couldn’t pass up the zesty Deviled Chicken. It gets its flavor from a fantastic whole grain mustard crust that contributes a surprising element of sweetness and a little nuttiness, with a lemon chive butter sauce poured over the top. It’s accompanied by very traditional, buttery green beans and shallot mashed potatoes.
For a good old-fashioned homemade feel, you can’t go wrong with the Pot Roast. It’s an incredibly tender cut of Angus chuck roast braised in Chianti pierced with a full rosemary sprig that announces the herbal lilt in the flavor of the meat. Served with roasted carrots, fennel, parsnips, celery, onions, and classic, buttered mashed potatoes, this is an infusion of deep meat-and-potatoes satisfaction.
For dessert, we couldn’t say no to the Fallen Chocolate Souffle, a surprisingly light version of a molten chocolate lava cake. In a large ramekin covered delightfully in cocoa powder, the cake has an exterior cookie-like crunch with a melted middle and is topped with a dollop of fresh whipped cream. It’s so warm, chewy, and decadent, the perfect, confident flavor to cap off a night of bold dishes.
Friday and Saturday nights, J. Fleming’s Absolutely Delicious is filled with the sounds of live local musicians. On the night of our visit we were treated to a great acoustic guitarist playing pop favorites with a loop pedal.
During the cold months, the outdoor area plants all come inside, so there are trees, vines, and potted plants scattered all around the room. It’s just one more quirky personal touch that makes J. Fleming’s a unique place for a great night out.
J. Fleming’s Absolutely Delicious is located at 18 N. Cass Avenue in Westmont,