James Republic, the new hotel restaurant at the Courtyard By Marriott in Long Beach, seems to like its jars. Virtually all of the desserts I tried came inside mason jars instead of bowls. Both the brisk opah poke hiding a base layer of creamy avocado and the seafood ceviche swimming in a tangy tomato broth were served inside French canning jars, the kind with a flip-top lid and metal latches, just for show. The only time the use of a jar felt practical was as the container for the satin-smooth, thick-as-spackle chicken-liver mousse I later smeared on toast with sweetened caramelized onions. But it wasn't until I ordered the twice-baked potato purée—a mashed-potato dish, mind you—that I noticed the restaurant's proclivity toward these... More >>>