June 15, 2015
Another menu offering from the box in the coat closet, this time from Jonathan Waxman’s seminal Manhattan restaurant, Jam's. Jonathan had been the chef at Michael's in Santa Monica, and when he arrived in New York he brought California cuisine with him. Free range chicken? Check. Laura Chenel’s goat cheese, FedExed from the West Coast every week? Check. You get the idea. (Jonathan's West Side restaurant, Bud's, was the home of Paul Prudhomme's pop-up Cajun restaurant, which explains that grilled swordfish with spicy pineapple salsa.)
But Jams brought more than the simplicity of an ingredient-driven menu to New York. The restaurant became a clubhouse for New York’s gonzo 1980s chefs. There was famous art on the walls, the servers wore sharp white shoes, and expensive champagne was freely poured, starting at breakfast.
One mouthful of that air – thick with fun, exuberance and excess – and you found it hard to leave. But the fun finally ran out; Jams closed in 1990.
Without further ado, here’s the menu from Tuesday August 20, 1985. The prices kind of amaze me; I had lunch at Jonathan's current restaurant, Barbuto the other day, and the chicken cost exactly one dollar more. Thirty years have passed since then, and you might want to recall that in 1985 the minimum wage was $3.35 an hour.
Lest you think the place teemed only with the young and the hip, note the message at the bottom of the menu. When was the last time you saw somebody smoking a pipe?
Categorised in: Uncategorized