Chicago >Food & Dining > Jam
937 N Damen Ave, Chicago, IL | Directions 6062241.898582 -87.677118
Neighborhoods: West Side, Ukranian Village
Decent food, horrific service – For someone who routinely tips 20+% of the after-tax subtotal, leaving south of 10 indicates abuse of a high order. And despite its decent breakfast, Jam fell so far in execution that even the food became unmemorable.
Before evisceration, it is polite to mention good. And so we’ll discuss Jam in descending order of performance. The best part about it, without question or hesitation, is the bus staff. Never did the water get within 2 sips of empty. Never was the coffee not refilled. The plates were cleared away quite quickly but not in the manner common to robotic bus persons who rip them out from under you before the fork completely leaves the surface.
The food was pretty good. The eggs we done the way we wanted and the pork was better than expected at a breakfast setting. Some prior diners complained that it was too rare and seem to have lost sleep worrying about trichinosis. These diners would be doing themselves and us a favor by 1.) learning how to spell the parasite and 2.) realizing that all meat these days tends to be irradiated and thus the 3 or 4 US cases last year were caused not by eating little piggies but by hunting and gathering one’s own game. I LOVE rare pork. It’s a sin that most places don’t do it right even if you plead. Ditka’s, dear departed D.Kelly’s and Gibson’s (not always) are the only places I’ve ever had my pork the way it should be cooked and judging by the commentary, this is likely why. You people need to grow up. Sinclair’s Chicago is no longer. In any case, the pork was done just right but it wasn’t done to perfect. Why? It started out a sub-standard cut. Not the juicy chops you see at Ditka’s but something available to mere mortals at Costco. Note to management: you’re charging us $16 for the dish. Use restaurant-grade meat.
The wait-service. Wow. It has been a long time since things have been this bad. Even LA, where the servers can barely bother to look up from their line rehearsals to take your order, did not often fall this short of satisfactory. Giving details is irrelevant. There was no rudeness, no outright attitude, just a comic theater of going through the motions with as little speed as possible. And attention. And caring. The restaurant was busy and the waitress seemed to be covering tables in the front. But during every lengthy stretch of neck-craning in vain attempts to get attention, she didn’t seem to be doing anything other than looking down at notes and talking to co-workers. Waiters and bartenders are skilled at many things but with some, the highest level of rehearsal seems to go to customer-avoidance. They feel you looking at them, they know you want something that it’s their job to get and they still drop their gaze and walk away. Few things piss us off more. We don’t go back to places like that and owners would be doing themselves the highest favor by screening such deft work-dodgers and showing them the door. Ignore the fact we won’t be back. The meal took 1.5 times longer than it should have. In a busy restaurant, time is more than just money.
Ukrainian Village spot raises brunch basics to glam status. – This industrial-chic breakfast/brunch/lunch nook, outfitted in shades of gray with splashes of punchy lime green, shakes up the daytime dining equation. Hip, young Ukie Village dwellers fill every curvy Plexiglas chair, noshing on fine dining-inspired renditions of breakfast and lunch standards. Malted custard French toast is topped off with macerated stone fruit, a dab of lime leaf cream and finely crushed pink peppercorns. The two-fisted "jamburger" proffers two patties, butterkasse cheese, smoked tomato sauce and onion rings, plus a sunny-side-up egg. The kitchen's not cutting any corners, either: Everything from the English muffins to, yes, the jam is made from scratch.
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