Chris Chamberlain and several Bites readers have already chimed in on the delights that Jim's serves up in the unlikely but convivial setting of a small shop in a gas station parking lot at 4663 Trousdale Drive (445-3006). Carrington says:
The real ode to the classic Michigan Coney Island is the natural casing — the length of sheep intestine used to contain the 80/20 blend of beef and pork — and of course, the chili.
"Michelle and I know, when someone asks for a 'hot dog combo,' they mean they want ketchup, mustard and relish. But if they ask for a 'Coney combo', they want chili," Butler says. The chili in question is a yellowish, oatmeal-textured medley of ground beef and cumin — not the deep-red pepper-fired and kidney-riddled stew of the ubiquitous chili dog. The slop on top adds just a touch of moisture and subtle spice to the frank, without smothering the signature snap of the casing when it pops between your teeth. That feeling — akin to biting into one of those long balloons used to fashion animals at children's birthday parties — can be something of an acquired taste, but it's a sensation ardent Midwesterners will defend until their last dying swig of Vernors ginger soda or red-dyed Faygo Rock & Rye.
For Southerners who don't cotton to the elastic crack of natural casing, Jim's serves up a burger that's easy to love. With telltale ragged edges of hand-patted beef, the generous burgers lop over the sides of sweet, soft flour-dusted buns, loaded with lettuce, tomato, onions and melted American cheese.