I Can Eat 50 Eggs: Justine's

 
In honor of Paul Newman and “Cool Hand Luke,” I’ll review 50 days of eggs from 50 different restaurants.
 
Day 34: Justine’s
4710 E. Fifth St. 385-2900, www.justines1937.com.
Hours: 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. Monday and Wednesday-Sunday. Kitchen open until 1:30 a.m. Closed Tuesday.
 
By Mike Sutter | Fed Man Walking | 02.03.12
 
Who couldn’t love Justine’s? You know, the one with the naked girls in the bathtub on the epileptic and ultimately useless website, the one where you’ll get a warm Gallic embrace or the backhanded disdain of the French stereotype, depending on the alignment of the planets. The one in a white clapboard bungalow across from the gas supply company and next to the ice cream fleet equipment yard. As Chrissie Hynde tells us, there’s a thin line between love and hate, and not much gray area for Justine’s.
 
But there’s only love in my heart for Justine’s steak tartare. The size of a tuna can, it brings together tender baby bites of vermillion beef with the big forward flavors of caper, onion, herb and I’m guessing here, mustard and horseradish. Technically, it fits within this 50 Eggs series because it’s finished with a tiny quail egg. But that nickel-sized yolk is an overachiever, bonding the meat like golden mortar.
 
Scoff at the $16 price if you have to, but with a side of simple shoestring fries and a careful stack of perfect butter lettuce leaves dressed with vinaigrette, the plate is a trucker’s buffet disguised as snack food for fancy people.
 
My waiter with the charming French accent was fast with a recommendation for wine to go with the tartare, a 2006 cabernet sauvignon from Chateau Greysac ($9), French of course, with a balance of chalky earth and dried fruit and just enough heat to stand up to the tartare’s full meat-al jacket (yes, I said that).
 
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)
 
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