I had read good things about Nana Jean’s on Yelp and never made it there until now. I wasn’t a fan of Black Sheep when it was there and was excited about trying this place because the name itself conjures up warmth in me.
The word “nana” is what all good Aussies call their grandmothers and my son has several of those lingering around Australia whenever we go back for a visit. So whenever “nana” is mentioned, along comes the images of Sunday roast and hearty comfort food.
So it is befitting that we arrived on a leisurely Sunday ready for some comfort food, and while my friends sipped on sangria — I took a sip and it was fruity and delicious — we perused the menu and decided to get a selection of dishes to try.
The first thing we all took a bite of was the Grilled cheese ($9.95) with ham and tomatoes. It was absolutely delicious and I’d never thought to put sliced tomatoes into a grilled cheese before, but it added a nice moist contrast to the gooey grilled cheese. The bread was also nicely toasted and crisp on the outside.
I was excited to try Lamb shank ($13.95) because lamb is a common staple in Australia and shanks are one of my favorites. The meat was very tender but bland and tasteless. Even the citrus, herb and horseradish gremolata wasn’t able to help it along too much. This was one of those days I cursed myself for leaving my trusty condiment pouch at home.
The accompanying mashed potatoes with leek and garlic was also not seasoned enough but the consistency of the mash was pretty good with detectable chunks of potato throughout.
Chicken pot pie ($10.95) was disappointing not only in the chicken to vegetables and sauce ratio but the filling was on the watery side. While I could’ve overlooked that issue, it was also bland like the lamb shank and I was starting to wonder if that was a recurring theme with the restaurant itself — that everything was on the under-seasoned side.
And to top it all off, the Sunday Special of Meatloaf and Eggs ($12.95) describes this dish as meatloaf caramelized on the griddle, there was no caramelization detected. To make matters worse, the meatloaf was incredibly gummy like it had been over-handled during preparation. Texturally it was just awful.
I made these three dishes at home and therefore, It is so frustrating when I am faced with a less-than-stellar concoction from a restaurant’s kitchen. It just makes me wonder why I bother to order these dishes while I’m out.
One of the sides was Mac n cheese with bacon and the cheese sauce was made with processed cheese with the glaring orange hue and synthetic texture you get from something like Velveeta or Kraft slices. It reminded me of cheese sauce out of a box.
On a plus note, Aunt Karyn’s Coleslaw was absolutely delicious with bits of green apples interspersed between the cabbage shards. I would’ve liked a touch more acid, but on the whole it was quite refreshing and tasty.
It saddened me that our meal was less than pleasing and it makes me reluctant to come back again to give them another try. Having said that, everyone deserves a second chance, especially nana and I intend to come back again in the next few months to see if they can redeem themselves from this unfortunate experience.
303 El Camino Real
Tustin, CA 92780