Jam Cafe is a popular breakfast and lunch restaurant in downtown Victoria. I visited them twice during my two-week stay in the City of Gardens.

The first time, early on a Saturday afternoon, I brunched on the Old Town Breakfast. Two eggs shared the plate with a thick slice of cottage ham (cured for four weeks in a brine of maple and brown sugar), hash browns (which resembled a crispy rosti) and a huge buttermilk biscuit (substituted for the toasts for $1.50 extra) accompanied by homemade rhubarb and peach jam. All this for $12.45, and I couldn’t eat it all. I also ordered a lavender lemonade which was served in, what else, a jam jar! It had the perfect balance of sweetness and acidity, the freshness of lemon complemented by the floral flavour of lavender. Heavenly.

While sipping my lemonade and waiting for my order, my eyes circled the room. The decor would qualify as eclectic. Vintage sport equipment, old cameras, wooden window frames and billboards adorned the walls, along with traffic lights, two sets of antlers, and an armadillo. Colourful jars of jam lined the bar where thirty-somethings were eating and chatting.

The second time, at 11:30 AM on a Wednesday, I decided to order coffee (free refills) and the classic Eggs Benedict, my benchmark of choice when evaluating breakfast restaurants. My waitress Alicia asked me if I wanted my eggs soft (mostly runny), medium (25% runny), or hard (not runny). They will even accommodate further customizations such as “hollandaise on the side”, or even “skip the English muffin”.

As promised, my eggs were cooked “medium”, and covered with hollandaise sauce, but not drowning in it. The thinly sliced ham was salty but not overwhelmingly so, and the accompanying hash browns (again, more like rosti potatoes here) were crispy on the outside and soft inside.

A word of warning: portions are large, and some of the dishes, such as The Charlie Bowl (a heaping bowl of “everything”) and the pancakes, are huge. Even the big tattooed guy couldn’t finish his Pulled Pork Pancakes! You can easily eat here for less than $20 CDN, including drink, tax and tip.

I was very comfortable eating on my own at the bar both times. Service was prompt and courteous, and the friendly waitress answered all of my questions and made recommendations.

Jam Cafe was established in April 2012, and has made it to #4 out of 891 restaurants on TripAdvisor already. They are opened daily from 8 AM to 3 PM, but do not accept reservations. And why should they? On both my visits the restaurant was full, but there was no line up. Alicia told me I was lucky.

Although I enjoyed both meals, I think I preferred the first one. Was it the divine lavender lemonade? Or the giant biscuit with the glorious home-made jam? Or perhaps it was the excitement of having just arrived in a new city.

If you go:

Jam Cafe
542 Herald Street,
Victoria, Canada
Tel: 778 440 4489