Jam n Jelly Cafe
7511 Lemont Rd
Darien, IL 60561
January 6 and 13, 2009
It's been nearly a year since Shea Cafe closed its doors, leaving the location at 7511 Lemont Road waiting for a new tenant. We anticipated something dull and useless like a loan office or a mattress showroom. What we got was... another restaurant, the third there in almost three years. It's a mystery why Lemont Street Cafe and Shea Cafe closed. As regular connoisseurs of their breakfast and lunches, we're pretty confident that it wasn't because of the quality of their food. But this sets the bar pretty high for Jam n Jelly. Just to stay in business, it reasons to assume, they'll have to somehow top their predecessors' efforts in almost every way. Will they succeed? Only time will tell.
Our first visits to JnJ gave us reasons to be optimistic. The restaurant has been renovated yet again, with a new pallate of gentle colors on the walls and pleasant decor hanging here and there. All the windows make sure that your meal is spent in pleasant (but never overwhelming) sunlight. Some of the servers (and possibly other staff) from Shea Cafe are back, bringing the same friendly service that we enjoyed before. Altogether, this is a comfortable and inviting place to spend a meal's time. Really don't know how I feel about the all-80's radio station that was playing on the overhead speakers during both of our visits, but at least it wasn't the horrible Jack-FM.
On the menu you'll find everything from traditional favorites to decadent breakfast treats that within less than a fortnight, surely ruined scores of healthy New Year's resolutions. One of the tamest of these are the PB&J cakes, covered in grape jelly and peanut butter chips. If you love peanut butter and jelly, you'll love these. Personally, after a few bites I'd really had enough, but this has more to do with unpleasant elementary school-age associations I still hold between brown bag lunches and chronic childhood headaches, not because of any failures on the part of the fine cooks.
On my second visit a week later I ordered a plate of blueberry pancakes. Certainly not as adventurous of an entree but pretty good by my own standards. Plenty of blueberries cooked into the pancakes, along with a blueberry topping and a cup of warm, whipped butter. No surprises here, but that's just fine.
Overall, dining a Jam n Jelly Cafe is a wholly pleasant experience, with a great atmosphere and creative entrees that will leave you satisfied. I've yet to sample any of their more traditional breakfasts, but it's safe to say that we'll be going back to do so sometime in the near future. If Jam n Jelly shares the same unfortunate fate as its predecessors, then it's probably safe to blame the building itself on a continued lack of success, not the businesses inside it.
Ayinsan here. I was rather excited to see a new pancake house opening in the location of the now-extinct Shea Cafe...which was formerly Lemont Street Cafe, which was formerly another breakfast place whose name I can't remember (The Egg and I, or something quirky like that). Here's hoping this one lasts. Fourth time's the charm. Right?
This restaurant has a very good, breakfasty-sounding name, which is usually a good sign. Makes it seem more like a true pancake house as opposed to a family restaurant that just happens to serve pancakes round the clock...and real pancake houses tend to offer a better selection of breakfast foods. Sure enough, Jam and Jelly's menu has a lot to choose from, offering such creative options as PB&J pancakes, S'mores pancakes, turtle pancakes (Peanuts and caramel on a pancake? You bet!), banana bread french toast, and many more.
True to their name, they also have a selection of jams and jellies for sale, including some unusual options. Jalapeno jam? Worth a try, I suppose.
On my first visit here I ordered the banana bread french toast, which was quite decadent. I had a few bites of Joe's PB&J pancakes as well. The first two bites were absolutely delicious. After the third or fourth bite, it was almost too much sweetness. For me, that's really saying something. I'm a terrible sugar junkie. I'd probably chug maple syrup straight from the bottle and eat bowls of buttercream frosting with a spoon if not for the knowledge that such habits would soon turn me into an orb-shaped jelly creature with the arteries of a ninety-year-old. Even so, I'm not sure I could finish a plate of PB&J pancakes on my own. The sudden spike in my blood sugar would probably cause all my neurons to spontaneously combust or something. It's very sweet--a stack of pancakes slathered with warm grape jelly and peanut butter chips.
On my next visit, I tried the Have Somore Cakes (S'mores pancakes) along with some eggs, sausage links and bacon. The eggs and sausage were both above average, but the bacon was rather dry. As for the S'mores pancakes? Well, if you've ever had chocolate chip pancakes, they're rather like that, but garnished with mini-marshmallows and crumbled graham crackers. Pretty good, but not the mind-blowing experience I was expecting. Personally, if I were making S'mores pancakes, I'd cook the marshmallows right into the pancakes so they melted and mixed with the chocolate into a gooey sludge of delight.
In any case, this is a good place to visit if you're feeling adventurous and want something a little different than the ol' pancakes, bacon and eggs combo...though they have the old favorites, too, along with a variety of lunch and dinner options. I'll definitely be coming back here.