Honey Jam Cafe
3000 Oak Grove Rd
Downers Grove, IL 60515
June 1, 8, and 15, 2010
As if the battle for suburban Chicago breakfast supremacy wasn't already crowded enough, here comes a new challenger! Or so it would appear, but the seemingly out of nowhere arrival of Honey Jam Cafe is actually a product of longtime Chicago restaurant royalty. The owners of nearly 40 Brown's Chicken & Pasta and almost 50 Portillo's restaurants have thrown their hat into the breakfast business, and their first restaurant is an astonishing debut. Honey Jam Cafe is one of the most unique and inviting breakfast restaurants that we've been to to date, boasting a mouth-watering menu and an inviting ambiance the likes of which we've never seen before.
It's actually easy to pass by Honey Jam without noticing it, as it sits on a stretch of Butterfield Road that's already crowded with restaurants, inconspicuously set back from the road next to a block of office buildings. The building itself is perhaps too classy and easy to mistake for a steakhouse or a Greek restaurant. Inside, on the other hand, Honey Jam brings together old-fashioned and modern designs and decor to create a mellow but warm and welcoming environment. I'm not going to describe it in detail suffice to say that it's really one of the nicest restaurants I've ever been in.
On my first visit I ordered blueberry pancakes. I might have enjoyed a little extra whipped cream than the dollop that was provided, but altogether they were pretty good. Our cherry-smoked bacon was some of the best bacon I've ever tasted. On our second visit, I went all in and ordered a baked "dutch baby" pancake. I've only had baked pancakes on a few special occasions before, and those were filled with apples and far too big for a single person to have on their own. Likewise, the Honey Jam menu suggests that these are "suitable for two," although the pancake I received was just right for one, and even left me a little hungry once I was finished. Soft, chewy, really a delight to savor. It was served with a nice dusting of powdered sugar and a bowl of lemons on the side, which I liberally squeezed all over my dish. At least I think that's what they were for. Their cheese blintzes were good; nothing to write home about but if you know of any that are, please let me know!
Altogether I was really impressed by this restaurant, am looking forward to going back yet again, and excited about the prospect of a new location opening in Batavia later this year. If you're reading this blog and have enjoyed any of the restaurants we've been to since the beginning, make it worth your while to visit Honey Jam for your next pancake fix. If you're still not convinced, watch this video, which also showcases some of Honey Jam's non-breakfast offerings.
Ayinsan here. This really is a great restaurant. Not really much I can say about it that Joe hasn't already covered. There's a fireplace inside, which you can sort of see in the above photo (though the flames aren't really visible) which is probably nice and cozy on a winter's afternoon. Well, actually you'd probably have to be sitting really close in order to feel any warmth, but still. A fireplace! Not something you see in a breakfast restaurant often, but it always adds that extra touch of class. The servers are always extremely friendly and quick, too. Even on busy days, we aren't kept waiting for long. Everyone here really goes all out to make it a great experience for the diners.
On my first visit I had the bananas foster waffle. Probably my favorite of all the entrees I tried here. Then again, I've never had a bananas foster anything that I didn't like. Their whipped cream is very sweet and rich, even if there's not a lot of it. On my second visit I had the strawberry cheesecake french toast, shown below. Also very tasty.
On my third visit I tried the Crazy Monkey waffle, which comes with peanut butter sauce, bananas, and chocolate chips. Pretty good, but the chocolate chips sort of overwhelmed the flavor of the peanut butter and bananas so it felt like I was just eating a chocolate chip waffle. If I ever order this again, I might request more peanut butter and less chocolate. It's really hard to get that balance of flavors just right, but when you do, the result is so worth it.