Food and Traveling
A tourist’s travel time is finite in that when we travel our trip has a defined beginning and end. We book our flights and know ahead of time how many days we will spend in a city. To maximize our time we plan our days and list out attractions to visit. We make concessions and leave places off our list but what can’t be missed out on is eating. Whether we admit it or not, eating is one of the main reasons we travel.
As food becomes a bigger part of our travels, the struggle becomes trying to cram in as many eateries as possible within the confines of our trip. Sometimes we eat at a restaurant at the start of our trip that changes our food outlook for the rest of our visit. This restaurant serves food so good it makes every meal afterwards pale in comparison. A restaurant that blows your taste buds away and makes you reconsider your list of other eateries. You planned on eating at different places every meal but you want to return to this one restaurant. In Canada’s British Columbia, Jam Cafe is that restaurant.
To categorize Jam Cafe as just a breakfast joint is an understatement. To classify Jam Cafe as reason enough to travel to Victoria or Vancouver isn’t hyperbole. Jam Cafe alone lifts these Canadian cities into full-blown foodie destinations. To qualify as a foodie destination the city needs restaurants where people will stand in line for hours to get seated. People will wait in line for the chance to sit and enjoy a meal at Jam Cafe. This restaurant holds its own against any of the top foodie restaurants in any major metropolitan city in the world.
Jam Cafe: The First Visit
Our first experience with Jam Cafe was on a five-day trip to Vancouver. On our second day, a Sunday, we were looking for somewhere to grab a hearty breakfast. We wanted a meal that could sustain us for the busy day we’d planned for ourselves. Our hotel was near the stadium, BC Place, which meant scant opportunities for a true breakfast experience. Yet according to Yelp within walking distance on Beatty Street was Jam Cafe.
When we reached Jam Cafe, we saw a line of ten people waiting to enter the restaurant. A true foodie will tell you, a line in front of a restaurant is good news. It’s not that anyone wants to wait to eat but the fact that people will wait means you can expect that whatever you order will be delicious. The goal of leaving a restaurant with a full, happy, and content belly is a worthwhile goal. We soon realized the folks in line were groups of three or more people. Going to Jam Cafe with a group is a great way to try multiple dishes but you must wait longer for a table. As a party of two it enabled us to jump to the front of the line when a smaller table became available. We were lucky, having only had to wait in line for ten minutes.
Our host guided us to our seats and once seated we took time to soak in our surroundings. Jam Cafe is one of those places that invoke a sense of eating at someone’s home. The warm atmosphere of the decor has a quaint rustic tone. Although the restaurant was busy, every single employee we interacted with was friendly to us the entire time we were at Jam Cafe. The friendliness of the staff, the atmosphere, and the high quality dishes combine for an excellent dining experience. With Jam Cafe you’ve got a restaurant you could eat at every day of your trip and be happy.
Here we are six paragraphs in on an article on a restaurant and we haven’t even started in on the actual food. That alone is proof of how Jam Cafe isn’t just a restaurant. It is a travel foodie destination you have to experience for yourself. The words and photos used in this article to describe the food don’t do it justice. Many of the dishes given to patrons are so full of food you could share with someone else and still be well fed. Open daily from 8am until 3pm the menu at Jam Cafe includes breakfast and lunch. Regardless of what time you visit Jam Cafe you can order from either the lunch or breakfast menu.
We were at Jam Cafe because we wanted breakfast so after careful deliberation we decided upon the chicken French toast and the fried chicken Benedict. The chicken French toast is a quintessential foodie dish. It’s a dish where the listed ingredients shouldn’t work together but they do, blending into a mouthful of deliciousness. The chicken French toast includes a buttermilk battered piece of fried chicken on brioche bread. On top of the bread and chicken are tomatoes, pickled cabbage, and green onion. The dish includes a dollop of jalapeno sour cream and over everything is a tobasco honey sauce. These ingredients culminate into a savory food melody for your mouth.
The cousin of the chicken French toast is the fried chicken Benedict. In the center of the Benedict is a whole chicken breast, fried to crispy perfection. Along with the fried chicken the Benedict comes with two poached eggs. The chicken and eggs sit upon an English muffin and comes with a traditional hollandaise sauce. Along with our main courses we ordered a side of biscuit and two coffees. In addition on the table was a bottle of maple syrup, a Canadian staple. The maple syrup added a sweet balance to each dish. It was a struggle not to pour the fresh delicious maple syrup over every bite.
Second Times a Charm at Jam Cafe
We left Jam Cafe so satisfied that even though we only had three more mornings in Vancouver we knew we had to return. On our last day we had an afternoon flight and planned on walking parts of Stanley Park before we had to head to the airport. We figured what better way to fuel up for a walk than to go back to Jam Cafe before taking the bus to Stanley Park. This second visit was midweek, on a Wednesday, and no one was waiting in line. Although seated right away, inside each table had patrons eating with huge smiles on their faces.
We wanted that same expression of joy on our faces and jumped right into the Jam Cafe menu. This time the dilemma was whether we try something new or dive back into what was now the comfort food we’d eaten on our first visit. We decided to try new dishes and ordered the Charlie Bowl and a cinnamon cream cheese swirl pancake. The Charlie Bowl has crumbles of biscuit, hash browns, ham, and cheese. On top of this food goodness were two eggs and a pouring of sausage gravy. The Charlie Bowl comes in two varieties the regular version and the Little Charlie. Both are good size plates and even the Little Charlie serving might leave you with leftovers. The cinnamon cream cheese swirl pancake was a dish that satisfied our sweet tooth. To cap it off, we added a side of sugar-cured bacon to each dish.
With the restaurant not being as busy as on the weekday we chatted with one of the owners of Jam Cafe, Jim Walmsley. It turns out that the Vancouver location is the second Jam Cafe. The first opened in Victoria, British Columbia. The Jam Cafe in Vancouver opened early 2016 and in just a few months had amassed a popular following of devoted foodies. Even without having to advertise the restaurant finds itself busy with a constant flow of diners.
Our second visit to Jam Cafe was coming to an end and this time around we weren’t able to finish our meals. The Little Charlie we’d ordered had leftovers we got boxed up to go. That precious food box made its way with us on the plane ride home. We couldn’t miss out on every last bite of the meals we’d ordered. Lucky for us when we got home the food was still edible. In the comforts of our own home we enjoyed our last bites of Jam Cafe. If we ever go back to Vancouver, we know we will have multiple meals at Jam Cafe.