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Jae’s Spice: Global Gastronomy

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Sea bass with stir-fried vegatables.

When Spice closed abruptly last March, it seemed as if the fate of Pittsfield itself hung in the balance, so closely was the big, ambitious restaurant linked in the public’s mind to the Pittsfield renaissance.  Immediately, the dire predictions began: “They’re talking to a chain.”  As visions of an Applebee’s or worse loomed large, hopes for Pittsfield’s future shriveled. 

In the intervening months, Pittsfield has proven to itself and everyone else that its upward trajectory will continue with or without Spice.  Still, it was a welcome sight two weeks ago when the lights went on again at the unwieldy empty restaurant on North Street.  The new, knowingly re-designed, Jae’s (pronounced: Jay’s) Spice is, indeed, a link in a chain. But this chain is small (just five restaurants, including Pittsfield) and privately-held, so it benefits from economies of scale without being at the mercy of corporate bean counters.  The Jae’s mini-empire ebbs and flows: Pittsfield’s gain appears to be Williamstown’s loss (the Jae’s there is now closed).

Nearly a decade and a half after first opening in Boston’s South End [corrected; see comment], Jae’s Café there remains exclusively pan-Asian—primarily Korean, Thai, and Japanese-inspired.  But as his venture has inched westward, so has Jae Chung’s vision.  Though, at the new Jai’s Spice, the Asian influence is pronounced—sushi ($8.95), seaweed salad ($5.95), and such entrees as an Eastern-leaning miso-and-sake glazed sea bass with stir-fried vegetables ($19.95)—the expansive range of offerings also include decidedly western pastas (macaroni-and-Maine lobster with bacon, spinach, and chive crème fraiche, $23.95) and even a humble side of mashed ($4.95).  An embrace this broad can only be described as global and modern.  The food, happily, can also be described as very good.  And judging from the crowd (a 15-minute wait for a table on a Tuesday well past 8?), global, modern and very good is just what we’ve all been hungry for.

Jae’s Spice
297 North Street, Pittsfield; 413.443.1234
Tuesday – Sunday 5 – 10
No reservations for parties of fewer than 8.

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Posted by Marilyn Bethany on 08/13/08 at 08:14 AM • Permalink