Off to the Jam Pantry
We were up bright and early this morning and by 7:30am we were in need of some breakfast. With the skies above quite grey and gloomy we went in search of some comfort food. The Jam Pantry, a recently opened cafe on busy Logan Rd at Greenslopes, was in our sights. There have been a number of new cafes pop up on the inner southside of Brisbane of late so this was a chance to check out one of the newcomers.
I had actually come to this cafe to have coffee with a friend on the previous Friday, but never got a chance to experience it. When we walked in, the place was literally bursting at the seams with people. I don’t know if this was a regular Friday occurrence or we just happened to be there the day the entire suburb came for coffee, but the noise was incredible. As my friend and I took a table towards the rear, it seemed as though the noise was enveloping us. By the time we actually sat down, I could barely hear myself speak. With a look of bewilderment on both our faces, we decided it was going to be easier if we took a rain check here and found somewhere else a little more subdued.
So this morning, we arrived at 7:50am to find a growing crowd of people queuing outside. I’m so used to cafes being open early that I didn’t even stop to consider that I should check their opening times. After a quick search online, we confirmed that we didn’t have too long to wait, with the doors due to be opened at 8am. Thank goodness really as I’m not sure the hungry hordes outside could have waited much longer. At first count there were 15 people waiting. As a new cafe, what a great problem to have.
Following a team brief of the staff (we counted 10 including the chefs), the doors burst open and in we all flowed. But this was not an “all in” fight for the tables. Instead one of the wonderful staff members guided us inside in a very orderly manner. Taking a seat at a table for two behind the wall that houses all manner of beautifully concocted homemade jams and relishes, we had a strange bit of privacy in what was fast becoming a hectic environment. Within 10 minutes, there were 30 people seated around the cafe. Here they sat at timber tables with an alternate mix of timber and white coloured chairs to match. The overall decor is in keeping with the original construction of timber and tin, with the interior walls made of tongue and groove and high set ceilings.
The cafe would hold about 65 people inside, at a range of table sizes to cater for singles, couples and larger groups. In the rear is a semi private room with seating for 12. The feature of this room is the gorgeous wallpaper that adorns the walls, and offers a point of difference to an otherwise minimalist approach to decorating. There is limited seating outside, but on a day like today, where the heat had already started to build early, the presence of air conditioning inside was a bonus.
By 8:20am the cafe was completely full. I was now thinking back to my experience the previous Friday. Was is always like this ? Perhaps it was. This was certainly no quiet Saturday breakfast. The place was absolutely humming !
Water was placed on our table as soon as we were seated, followed by a prompt request for our drinks order. The drinks menu is reasonably standard with offerings of tea, coffee and hot chocolate. In addition, they have some fruit juices, a couple of smoothies and fruit sodas. The cappuccino arrived with shaved chocolate flakes on top, similar to the hot chocolates, setting it ever so slightly apart from the mainstream cappuccino offerings, and no doubt delighting the chocoholic in everyone.
Turning our minds to the breakfast menu, I thought my task of selection was going to be a fairly simple one. Afterall, here was a menu with roughly eight main offerings, and covering the standard fare of toast, bacon and eggs in various forms, and the big breakfast type arrangement. But this was not to be. The eight items, whilst masquerading as standard fare, had some of Nims’ (chef/owner ) clever twists.
As Nims proudly notes on her website, chutneys, relishes, pickles and jams are regular features on most dishes. All are home made and take advantage of what’s in season. So, Nims’ eggs, with streaky bacon, poached eggs and roma tomatoes have the added pleasure of banana chutney. The Whole Pantry has fried eggs, pork collar butt that has been slow cooked for four hours, caraway cabbage, cinnamon ricotta, blackberry, apple and fennel seed relish, toasted rye and grilled lemon. The increasingly common menu item of avocado on toast is there, but you can also amp it up a notch with pickled and fresh strawberries, goats’ cheese and pistachio crumb. The breakfast menu is actually an all day menu and is available until close at 3pm on weekdays and 2pm on weekends.
I had just started to get my head around the menu when my husband asked had I seen the specials board. Specials board ? How I could have missed it I will never know. Perhaps it was because I was heavily concentrating on getting to my table first before I started looking around. The wall to the left of me, whilst providing some privacy had in fact blocked my view.
Oh no! There were a dozen more items up there that required my attention. I realised I was now in trouble. Centred around seasonal produce, and allowing the chef to regularly exercise their creativity, they were breakfast offerings of a different kind.
Example such as :
Twice cooked potato cakes with dragon fruit cured salmon, strawberry, dragon fruit and cucumber salsa and creme fraiche;
Hot smoked trout and potato dressed with fresh spinach, red onion and pickled dragon fruit and;
Poached blueberry waffles with strawberries and jaffa crunch ice cream.
With my husband settling for the Eggs Benedict with grilled leg ham, poached eggs, hollandaise, sourdough, micro cress and roma tomatoes, I thought I needed to go a bit left of centre.
As my eyes glanced back at the specials board, my choice was clear. French toast. But not just any old French toast. This one came together as a ‘drenched croissant’ (an egg and cheese mixture), accompanied by lime poached pear, strawberries and wonderful creme fraiche.
The food tasted as good as it looked. The Eggs Benedict drew no complaints. Rather a comment that there was nothing at all that wasn’t cooked perfectly. As for mine, I’m not usually a sweet breakfast eater, but this was terrific. This dish was such a wonderful balance of the sweet from the strawberries, married with the acid from the lime poached pears and the sour creme fraiche. A separate bowl of maple syrup was provided but I didn’t feel the need to use it.
What a wonderful way to start a weekend ! The staff were attentive and helpful when required and would have been an owner’s delight, such was their efficiency at ensuring the tables were turned over quickly when guests left. This allowed for prompt seating of those who continued to wait outside, with takeaway coffee in hand, for a table.
There was also a well stocked fresh cake cabinet however given our full tummies, these would need to wait for another time.
Whilst the parking is a bit tricky, and the acoustics will mean that this isn’t probably the best location if you want a bit of peace and quiet, this is one of the best cafes I have been to for quite a while. It’s wonderful to see a new cafe bustling with activity and to see that there has been some love and attention to detail given to every aspect. May The Jam Pantry continue to thrive as a local business for as long as it wants to.