Address: 542 Herald St.
Phone: (778) 440-4489
Price: $10-12 most mains
Notes: Rich, southern-inspired all-day brunch.
Jam Cafe is in the old location of the Herald Street Cafe, although there have been several incarnations of short-lived restaurants in between the two. It's actually a smaller location now, apparently the space got split up at some point, but still retains a large bar area and ample seating. It has a nice open feeling, and the white walls and big windows add to this. The decor is kitsch without being over the top. There are posters of Canadian railway memorabilia - a visual hint of the connection between Jam and their sister company, Union Pacific across the street, a giant fork, a skull with horns, and reclaimed windows as cabinets for storing more knicknacks.
One thing I really like about the aesthetic of both Jam and Union Pacific is that everything is really classy, but also lightly distressed as if it has been there for ages. It evokes a really nostalgic feeling, and even though I know it's totally contrived it hits the mark.
The menu is quite large and varied and reasonably priced. Everything on the menu has a little bit of a twist to it. There aren't just pancakes - there are red velvet pancakes. It isn't just a breakfast sandwich, it's a breakfast sandwich on a biscuit with tomato jam. Other highlights at the table when we visited included deep-fried pigs in a blanket served with fruit, and a bowl filled with crumbled biscuit, meat and sausage gravy on top. There are interesting sides, such as bruleed grapefruit, which I totally would have done if I hadn't anticipated I would be full by the end of my meal! Unlike most brunch places, their hash browns are shredded potato, perfectly crispy and browned on the outside.
I need to start this with the caesar, because this might be the caesar that changed my life! Until this point, I remained unconvinced that I liked caesars (or bourbon, for that matter...). This one was massive, served in a jam jar with a peppered rim and bacon adornment. There was plenty of horseradish and pickle juice to flavour the clamato, but they also added barbecue sauce infused with bourbon into the mix, creating a whole extra layer of complex flavours and mouth-joy.
Pulled Pork Pancakes
I am not normally a pancake person, or a sweet breakfast person, but something about the pulled pork pancakes caught my eye that day. The combination of savoury/smoky/sweet/carbs was so delicious, especially when combined with a bite of the sour pickled cabbage on top (plus a sip of the aforementioned bourbon caesar!). Again, this was a massive dish, and completely defeated me.
The Harrison Fernando
This was my partner-in-food-and-life's choice. It arrived as kind of a plated alternative to the charlie bowl, minus the cheese but with chorizo. I would order this again in future, as it pretty much has all the delicious things I've had at Jam so far, but with the ability to control how much of each component you eat (unlike the Charlie bowl!).
July 1, 2012
The Three Pigs
This was my partner-in-food-and-life's choice. For Jam, it's something of a small sized breakfast, even if it's still calorie-heavy! The 'three piggies' are deep-fried pigs in a blanket, served with fruit on the side and syrup. It's definitely a sweet breakfast. My P.I.F.A.L. ultimately would have been interested to try a savoury variation of the same 3 piggies.
The Charlie Bowl
After seeing others at the table order this on my last visit, I knew I had to order it! The Charlie Bowl is a tour de force (in fact... on our next visit our friends split it and were still stuffed!) stuffed full of sausage, gravy, egg, cheese, hash browns and biscuit. Below is what it looked like after stirring:
April 28, 2012
Buttermilk Biscuit Sandwich
The one downside - which you can kind of see in the picture - is that the biscuit itself was a little bit on the dense and dry side. That's a pretty easy recipe tweak, plus who knows, maybe they had an accidental bad batch and ran out of time to make more? Given the detail on everything else (especially the moistness of my cornbread which is so often painfully dry) I'd be shocked if that's how they were supposed to be.
January 12, 2013
The service was still very consistently awesome here, although the one thing we would have preferred was some coffee while we waited in line. I guess they assume you can just go across the street to their sister store for one, but when you're waiting in line and don't want to miss your spot this is a bit of an inconvenience! Another couple did just this, and ended up missing their spot, as it came up much quicker than she had estimated.
July 1, 2012
Despite it being a holiday, we were impressed by the service and speed with which we were in and out of here! The staff here seem to have really come together quickly!
April 28, 2012
Given that a) they just opened a few weeks ago and b) they were lined up out the door from the time we got there until the time we finished I was pretty impressed with the service. A few things that were not fantastic - we snugged in one extra person when a couple arrive a few minutes late, but we didn't get extra cutlery and it took 10-15 minutes and a few requests for them to get some coffee. Still, given the chaos going on around us we got lots of refills on both water and coffee, and our food came pretty fast with only a slight delay between each side of the table getting their food. The serving had a touch of planning that can only come with experience running a busy place and has trained and organized their staff well. This gives me a lot of hope for the future!