I am a mum of two and Primary School teacher whose aim is to never be home during the midday movie. I believe that I am only ever a car trip away from an adventure.
Published July 13th 2013
Update April 6th 2016
Please note this venue is no longer trading and permanently closed
Coffee, art and board games
The JAM cafe gallery keeps me coming back to Murrumbeena time and time again. I may have no other reason to be around this area, but when I find a little gem like this, and I need a place to escape too, far enough away from the suburban bubble I live in daily, I head straight here.
This sassy establishment is a newbie to the area, just over 12 months old and has bought fun, art and flavorsome food to the area in the most child friendly and parent appealing way. It has the train station opposite and a handful of shops surrounding it, grocery, gifts and a thrift shop to name a few. The JAM cafe certainly stands out in the crowd with the retro Milk Bar sign in the window and the vintage bike parked out front.
A lovely vintage bicycle invites you to drop in.
The interior is quirky with walls covered in glorious art pieces, many of which look like old swap cards and others that are more serious, some with names you'll know, others created by names you may wish to get to know. The tables are decked out with jars of dominoes and snakes and ladder board games and the menu comes with a pocket full of papers and pencils, perfect for score keeping or a game of naughts and crosses. How's that for thinking like a parent!
The loser of a game of Snakes and Ladders buys lunch...maybe.
The front counter is decorated with glorious baked goods, muffins, pastries and scones. There are also little take home lolly jars which are hard to resist. Behind it there's a backdrop of unusual and retro items, such as a woollen deer head and some flying porcelain ducks. Loads of weird and wonderful things to look out for while your here, just let your eyes wander.
Look out for the woolen deer head behind the counter.
Once you walk through this main front room, the cafe opens up into a number of eating places all designed to keep you relaxed and comfortable. There's a long corridor which takes you past the yummy smells of the kitchen and leads you to a large outdoor eating space. It's here that the sunlight bounces off the large umbrellas and wide tree branches creating a serene and shady environment. With a real country feel, the courtyard is homely and there is plenty of space for kids to burn off energy and for prams to park under a tree. There are lovely little herb gardens dotted around in wooden crates and you may see the chef picking a handful to add to your meal.
Today I arrived with my daughter and after a few games of dominoes we decided to order lunch. She chose the 'Soup of the Day' which was tomato and I went for the simple Avocado with Tomato and Goats Cheese toast. The soup was thick, rich and tasted of deep, ripe tomatoes and the garlic toast oozed with aroma and crunch. So delicious on a wintery Melbourne day.
The Tomato soup and Garlic toast is perfect for a cold winters day.
My meal may have sounded simple, but it packed a flavour punch, particularly the goats cheese, a thick and generous serve. I ordered it on gluten free bread, which was grainy and delicious, and unlike any cafe I have ordered from before, there was no extra charge. My soy latte had a lovely nutty taste and even a small sliver of chocolate cake on my teaspoon, yum! My daughter devoured her hot chocolate and marshmallows well before I could ask her how it tasted, so I'm guessing it was good.
No extra cost for gluten free bread, now there's a first.
The menu is well priced and there are many things I would come back for, the Brownie being first on my list, the Buttered Mushrooms on sourdough and the Sweet Potato and Feta baguette sounds delish too. Lots of good reasons to return. And return we will, on warmer days to bask outside amongst the gardens, inside on cooler days to huddle around the warmth and aromas within and as a pit stop for a takeaway as we head towards the local playground which is only a short stroll away.
In fact did I happen to mention that my daughter and I drew in dominoes? Three games a piece.... I guess we'll have to come back for a show down (and a brownie) very soon indeed!