Recently, Adam and I went to Jam, a BYOB restaurant in Ukranian Village. While Chicago has a large number of BYOBs, most of them aren't that great so I am happy to report that we have a winner! Jam used to be just a breakfast/brunch spot but recently expanded to dinner and boy am I glad they did! Key highlights of Jam include:
--nice outdoor eating area (not the cutest, but nice enough w/ lots of trees)
--$24 dollar 4 course tasting menu w/ very high quality food (details below)
--and did I say BYOB??
Here's a picture of the inside. Like the outdoor terrace, it's not the nicest place ever, but it is cute enough, right?
Here's Adam deciding what to order. As you can see, he is deep in thought:
I had no trouble ordering because when the waitress said, "I recommend the tasting menu", I said "sounds good to me". The tasting menu consists of a salad (varies seasonally), a first course pasta, an entree (currently either ono or pork tenderloin), and a choice of dessert. Only $24 for 1 entree, $37 if you want both entrees. My first course was heirloom tomatoes w/ blue cheese, cilantro and cocoa powder (on the side of the plate). The yellow tomoatos may be the best tomatos I've ever had.
The second course really blew me away. It was foie gras tortellini on a bed of melted onions and English pea puree. It was soooo good. As I discussed in my L20 post, foie gras has the texture of a meat marshmellow and the flavor of the best duck ever! I can't believe this dish was part of a $24 dollar tasting menu because it could easily earn that price alone!
I choose the ono for my main course. It was dressed w/ blueberries, ricotta cheese and a delicious foam - I wish I could remember what the foam was made of- it was great, whatever it was! The fish was cooked just perfectly- a nice, light, fluffy texture.
For dessert I was given the choice of a chocolate lava cake w/ hazelnut filling or earl grey infused panna cotta w/peaches and vanilla cookies on the side. Since the chef at Jam had so far done a great job w/ my first 3 courses, we figured this would be a place where the panna cotta would be great. And it was. I love, love, love panna cotta. Yum!
The decor on the terrace is....interesting. Some unusual statues, some beautiful old trees, and then these objects to the right. They look like full body saddles or warm winter jackets or some such thing for a four legged animal. To the left of these odd dinner mates, there is a huge horse sculpture so at first glance we asssumed they were for horses. But.....look again. There is a distinct space for a hump just posterior to the head/neck area. See it? Do you know what I'm getting at dear family, friends and other blog readers? I...think.....they....are....for...BISON! Woo-hoo! The best way to my heart is through bison or bison paraphernalia so Jam got extra points for this;)
In summary, I would recommend Jam as a well-priced BYOB with really excellent food. Ambiance is plus/minus. Service is fine, nothing special, but perfectly adequate. You MUST get the tasting menu, such a good deal. Since Think closed (sad face), Jam is one of the best BYOB's in Chicago, right up there with Coast. (I'm sure Schwa is better than both of them, but I haven't been there yet so can't say).
(Note: Jam is cash only, so stop at the ATM on the way!!)