A bright, warm summer Sunday morning…and all I can think of is eating brunch - al fresco. Why not? Chicagoans only get to do this a few months a year. So why not take advantage?
I’ve heard so much about that tiny little kitchen inside Jam, located on Damen just south of Augusta. Especially their little outdoor space, amongst trees, a brick/garden patio, and cool artwork sculptures. And the food! They only serve brunch, and I have a soft spot in my heart for a place that thinks brunch is the most important meal of the day. :) Yet, unfortunately, the food was the only thing that could save us then…
Arriving a wee bit before the crowd, around 10am, only a 20min wait. The host seemed a bit scatter-brained, changing his mind saying he could actually seat us “immediately outside in the patio”…perfect! Jam’s inside seating doesn’t even have air-conditioning (I mean, this is Chicago, not Oregon…get some A/C already!!), so we felt lucky. After forgetting about us for 5min, we ask the host about the seating, and he remembers. (OK - willing to overlook a frantic host.)
We sit. And wait. And wait. Server seems to be lost? I’m getting anxious because I see more tables filling up, and only 2 servers covering at least 20 tables. And I see only one server actually moving. After a solid 10 minutes, our sever seems to remember we are his table. He approaches us with a glazed look on his face, as if he doesn’t even remember where he is. Order an iced coffee, and decide we should put in our order for brunch as this service doesn’t look good: tables filling up, service slowing down. He asks us if we’d like a selection of breakfast pastries; scones, muffins, croissants, which was cordial, but we declined. After another solid 5 minutes, we have to ask another server about the iced coffee, who brings it right away. Moments later our server arrives with the iced coffee, who then realizes his lateness and gives us another iced coffee. OK?
Food arrives: blueberry pancakes with a blueberry compote and creme fraiche, and a Spanish omelet with chorizo, pepeprs, onions and Garrotxa cheese (goat milk from Catalonia). Both were phenomenal. The cakes were a deep blue color, and tasted sweet, light and damn good with that compote. You don’t need syrup with them, but if you like, 100% maple is $1 extra. The omelet was not greasy, and stuffed with all the delicious goodies…an explosion of spicy peppers and cheese. So good. The iced coffee did help, as we were nearly sweating (even in the shade) from the hot morning air.
Of course our server never even checked on us to ask if we needed anything, and by this time, Jam realized they needed more servers outside. We were taken over by a kind, smiley server who cleared our very empty plates and asked if we needed anything more, we did not. Very happy with the food, we paid, left a measly 10% tip, and got outta there. By the way, once we paid, our original server came over and asked if we needed anything else or just the check? Ha! Good luck buddy. (after years of waiting tables, I know it can get chaotic, but this service was terrible!)
Jam - go for the food only (Cash only!), and get there right when they open to avoid a service disaster. Or just wait until they open a food stall. :)