Sunday, February 26, 2012
The Jam Coffee House
1210 Wedgewood Avenue
The Newton family has transformed this small storefront in a tiny strip mall a stone’s throw from the Belmont campus. The retro sixties DIY décor is both warm and whimsical. It’s just far enough from the edge of campus to make it a pioneering project for the Jam Coffee House. One year in and things seem to be going well. Sisters Bethany and Maile Newton spend most of their time smiling behind the counter and that’s always a good sign. The ladies serve coffee roasted locally by Beck’s Farm House Coffee and Tea. Hoist a mug and find a good seat at the bar or in one of the mix and match tables and chairs. Some Louis Armstrong on the stereo and the sound of laughter from the counter mingle well.
They serve a limited selection of sandwiches for breakfast and lunch. It’s certainly enough for a meal and unlike some coffee joints, these sandwiches are lovingly created to order behind the counter. The breakfast sandwich is a hearty affair on toasted Provence sourdough bread. Egg, pesto, avocado and Dubliner cheese meld together for a warm and satisfying sandwich. It’s simple and probably better for it.
The Provence rosemary olive oil bread is the toasty foundation for the Mama Mia lunch sandwich. Chicken, bruschetta and Dubliner cheese are crowned by bacon. It’s a messy treat, full of flavor thanks to pop from ripe cherry tomatoes and a generous dose of balsamic vinegar. They serve cashews on the side, a nice twist.
Bakery items come from Lucy’s Kitchen. These include a range of muffins, scones, and cupcakes. The Break-Up Cake was perhaps a bit too far over the top: a dense fudge-like version so incredibly rich that one piece nearly killed us.
Veggie Eater: Breakfast and lunch menus seem to make a conscious choice to include a veggie item. The menus are designed daily and are tailored to what locally sourced foods are available. The Veggie Reggie allows choice of veggies, choice of cheese, and choice of bread. You can slap on avocado (big, thick slices) for an extra charge. My version included carrots, zucchini, red onions, and spinach. This is drizzled in balsamic and Dijon. I opted for flax seed for the added bonus of nuttiness. It’s a wonderful combination of textures and flavors. The next time out, we went for breakfast and I had the delightful breakfast tacos. The corn tortillas are lightly grilled, stuffed with perfectly cooked and fluffy scrambled eggs, a smattering of shredded cheese, large chunks of sliced avocado, and a homemade taco sauce, that has a bit of heat and a little bit of smokiness. It’s a wonderful way to start the morning while lounging about and reading the paper (OK, so our local Gannett cloned paper takes only five minutes to read; Jam has plenty of other reading material available to fill the void).
Meat Eater: They keep fairly long hours, allowing the place to be a breakfast, lunch and even an early dinner stop. Just check the Facebook page first for the latest hours. We like the laid-back atmosphere of Jam Coffee House. It’s much more relaxing than the big coffee houses in town. Sometimes smaller is better.