Jam Jar, 26 Henderson Street, Bridge of Allan
I was worried about this visit, I won't lie. I didn't want to like JamJar. I liked Clive's, the previous incarnation of this café/bistro and was a little sad to watch it gutted out and extended into the shop next door. Clive's served great food, well. It had tables tucked away down the stairs when you wanted peace and quiet. Yes the toilets needed work and whenever my little buddy and I ordered a coke and a diet coke it was without fail mixed up, but these little foibles just added character.
I was nervous with JamJar that the food wouldn't match up, the staff wouldn't be as friendly, the toilet would now be bright enough to see my face in the mirror. I had also heard some stories in the month after opening of poor service and long delays. So with trepidation akin to being dressed in a red shirt and sent to a strange alien planet with James T Kirk I ventured to BofA . I went at lunch time with my bestest buddy and was looking for a light bite.
First impressions were good, the crisp white render, wooden sash windows, ...oh wait this isn't the Grand Designs blog is it... Appearance wise the building is just a clone of every modern building being thrown up just now, in fact it looks a bit like Wallace High School just down the road has had a love child with Kevin McCloud.
We were greeted immediately at the door and I recognised that most of the old staff from Clive's were still here, my chances of a Diet Coke reduced dramatically then. We were shown to a table next to the log burning stove, that hopefully won't need to be lit for a few more months yet. The menu was presented with a smile and I was relieved to see it was exactly what I was used to. Decent 'gourmet' sandwiches, salads, burgers and an veritable extravaganza of pizza flavours. We ordered our usual drinks and when they arrived the Coke had an Orange slice, Diet Coke with lemon, sorted...
We ordered a Steak Sandwich (Medium Rare, that's the way it should be) and a Chicken BLT and despite the middle of lunchtime rush they arrived on our table before we finished our correct carbonated vegetable based drinks. Presentation was outstanding, a doily lined pot held the cutlery, the sandwiches arrived on the wooden platters, which along with slate, appears to be rapidly killing off china plates. The sandwiches were generously filled on soft fresh bread and there was an impressive looking dressed salad garnish. Both sandwiches also arrived with a little metal bucket full of chunky chips, much to my buddies chagrin as she missed the old fries. The steak sandwich was also served with a mini jam-jar full of gravy.
The BLT tasted as good as it looked, succulent pieces of chicken, crispy bacon and fresh lettuce and tomato. The bread melted in the mouth as you bit into it and it was a wonderful contrast to the filling. The steak was cooked beautifully and was lovingly embraced by the brioche bun which like the pairing of Torville & Dean was perfect. When the whole ensemble is dunked in lashings of the rich meaty gravy it is a definite 6.0.
Service remained spot on, our satisfaction was checked, which I swear is always done just after you take the biggest bite of your meal. I enthusiastically nodded my appreciation for the food and managed to gesture my requirement for another drink, miraculously a Diet Coke was poured into a glass in front of me a minute later. It would appear that Justin Fletcher isn't the only one who can do sign language.
Now all this greatness doesn't come cheap £2.20 for each bottle of coke and a decent reward for the service brought the total cost of lunch in just over £26 so you can't help thinking that some of that is definitely paying for reclaimed timber and lights in the toilet. Is it worth it, yeah I think it is.
So what do I think. I am no longer distraught at the loss of Clive's, but doubling the size and tripling the capacity with all the new outdoor areas looses some of the charm of the old. The food and service are just as good, so a worthy sucessor. Well worth a visit if you're in Bridge of Allan.