In our first episode of Abbe and Jebby Eat Portland, we dined at Jam, located at 2239 SE Hawthorne Blvd.
Jebby's meal: Smoked Salmon Hash
My hash was a delicious melange of crisp hashbrowns, massive chunks of tender, flavorful salmon and lemony capers. It came topped with two perfectly cooked, farm-fresh over-medium eggs and a completely generic and forgettable english muffin. Every element of the hash blended seamlessly with the others, and a mouthful of it with a glistening coat of buttery egg yolk was heaven on a plate. It was obviously crafted by a skilled hand. Often, simple things are the most difficult to get right, and hashbrowns are no exception. These were perfectly crisp on the outside and had the sort of creaminess inside that are the mark of properly-made browns.
There was an almost shocking amount of salmon in my meal. I remembered looking at my food and wondering how they could possibly afford to stay in business while selling portions of smoked salmon that large for at such an affordable price. I did find several long, translucent bones in my fish, but I get the feeling they would've gone down easier than the ones in fresh salmon if I hadn't caught them. There were also a few too many capers for my own personal taste, but really, it's a reach to say a bad word about the meal. It was delicious, filling, and cheap - the trifecta of meal perfection, as far as I am concerned.
Abbe's Meal: Corned Beef Hash
I’m a strong believer in the extra big ass breakfast and Jam is definitely down with this theory.I was completely blown away by the corned beef; tender, juicy and very flavorful. A lot of restaurants that have “corned beef” hash will either put too much of a low quality corned beef that’s usually ground or too little of a mid-range beef that leaves you unsatisfied. The people at Jam have found the beautiful balance of a healthy serving of high quality meat that’s pulled and not ground.
The hash was perfect and this can be a difficult feat to accomplish. A lot of hash I’ve experienced has been really dry from being overcooked with its accompanying ingredients, but not here. The bell peppers and onion were delicious and didn’t overpower the mix. They had a nice char to the edges from the grilling, but still had a delicate crunch that really brought all the textures together. And sitting pretty atop this mountain of taste bud ecstasy, were my delicious eggs which I ordered scrambled; they were just the icing on the cake. When you taste real cage free, naturally raised eggs,you know the difference between what you get at the store and what you pay extra for at the farmer's market. This whole dish was absolutely mouth watering, I would go back and eat it every morning if I had the financial means to do so and I don’t think it would ever get old.
Lemon Ricotta Pancakes:
Jebby and I both partook in a side order of these pancakes, which can also be ordered as a full meal from the menu. The pancakes we received managed to be giant, fluffy, creamy, and delectable all at the same time. Bursting with lemony goodness and topped with their incredible, warm house-made blueberry compote, these pancakes can only be described using a non-dictionary approved word, such as “ridonkulous.” These not-so-little circles from heaven can be added to your order for a small fee.
Our overall review of Jam:
Jam is a smaller eatery, but charming in its appearance. At the entrance you’re greeted by a cute little sign decorated in art nouveau poppy flowers and a coffee stand with all the amenities for the outdoor seating. The walls of the restaurant are hung with original Portland art that is both eye catching and unique. However, don’t be so taken in by the atmosphere that you want to overstay your welcome, because the cheery chalk menu board at Jam warns those of you who like to camp out that lingering is frowned upon. Jebby and I have been known to bust out our latest knitting endeavors at the end of our meals and just knit for hours, so we consider the “We don’t like people who enjoy sticking around” warning to be a little off-putting.
The menu at Jam includes their signature poppy motif and boasts a huge selection of breakfast and lunch favorites, along with cocktails and Stumptown coffee, which is ubiquitous at good Portland breakfast joints and it does not disappoint. There is something to satisfy everyone, from build-your-own scramble to unique dishes like French toast made with challah bread and vegetarian and vegan-friendly items. Jam uses locally grown vegetables that they get from Uncle Paul’s Produce Market and Killer Bread from that lovable ex-con, Dave. They also use only cruelty-free eggs, so you can leave your yuppie guilt at home.
Another perk of eating at Jam is the prices. No matter how many local and fancy ingredients your meal contains, it won’t break the bank.
Before you lose yourself in the fantasy of local vegetables caressing your cage-free eggs, let us give you a few of the not-so-pleasant aspects of our visit.
From the time we arrived, the service we experienced at Jam left much to be desired. Though there were empty tables, we still had to wait to be seated and found ourselves sitting outside for several minutes. Once seated, we had little contact from our server; our coffee got cold in the time it took our waitress to not only remember our existence, but bring us the cream we requested when we sat down. That was not the only time our coffee got cold, and our cups were left empty on more than one occasion.
After perusing the impressive cocktail list, Jebby was tempted to order, but our server didn’t return to our table until long after we had finished our meals. We understand that frequent visits to tables can be difficult when a restaurant is large, busy, and/or lacks enough servers, but Jam is a small establishment with a full wait staff and during our visit, there were many empty tables. Usually a good server will check in with their tables to see how they are enjoying their meal, not only did our server neglect to check how we were doing, but she didn’t visit our table from the time she brought us our food to the time we finally managed to get her attention and ask for our check.
Aside from the lack of service we experienced, our meals were so enjoyable and affordable that we would happily return to Jam and eat again. No place is perfect, but with a little more effort from the wait staff, Jam would come pretty close