Delaware Ave. (Main Square Plaza), Delmar, 439-1727. Serving
7-9 Mon-Fri, 7-3 Sat. Javajazzdelmar.com. AE, D, MC, V.
coffee, pastries, wraps
price range: $5 (hummus wrap) to $7 (mixed-meat sub)
places are prized community assets that encourage us to fight
the solipsism bred into us by a society that profits from
our social isolation. So, what constitutes the ideal gathering
place? You know my prejudice: I want to see food involved.
My other requirements, though, probably aren’t terribly different
from yours: good coffee, plenty of tables, background music
that doesn’t torture the nerves, wi-fi. It’s a place to settle
in with some friends. Even better, it’s a place to see some
friends you weren’t expecting to meet. Best of all, it’s a
place to go for the outrageous possibility that you might
make some friends.
Java Jazz Café owner Cathy Callan says she’s a fan of Wendell
Berry’s essays about community, and she sees the communal
aspect of her café as not just a side effect of serving comestibles
but the core reason for its existence.
left a career working for nonprofits,” she says, “mostly doing
development. But nonprofits are in a tough place these days,
and I decided I wanted to run my own business.” With no previous
restaurant-biz experience, she took her cues from the social
aspect. “I figured I’d approach it from a communal point of
view, allowing people to be with people.” To that end, she
also offers art exhibits and live music.
It was a photography show that brought me in last week—a chance
to see the work of Joseph Schuyler. I happened to meet not
only current friends but also some folks I hadn’t seen in
years, and was introduced to still more. So Callan’s formula
works. All I needed was some dinner to complete the pleasure.
Subs, salads and especially wraps (which number 30) dominate
the menu. “I wanted a kind of northwest feel, something like
Seattle,” says Callan. She’s crafted a selection that’s going
to set you back a mere five to seven dollars per plate.
The frequent, welcome appearance of avocado in her sandwiches
characterizes the menu. Also common are the Seattle sauce,
which is like a tzatziki, and the judicious use of cheese,
Swiss being typical when the item is served hot.
Chicken is a frequent star. Add goat cheese, spinach, tomato
and onion and you’ve got a Popeye (it’s the pop-cultural moniker
for Florentine); the Coop de Ville adds barbecue sauce, Swiss
and provolone; the Natural is dressed with honey Dijon mustard,
garnished with lettuce, tomato and onion.
You can also get this preferred meat in the form of various
chicken salads, including the Gorgeous George, a heated wrap
with bacon, onion, tomato and melted Swiss, along with hot
peppers and Italian dressing. True to its name, the sandwich
required some wrestling, but that’s because I’m not a skilled
wrap consumer. My daughter showed me how to tuck the far end
into the barrel of the sandwich, thus arresting the cascade
of filling that tumbled down my hand.
Otherwise, there’s nothing not to like about this one, which
comes with pita chips and Seattle sauce. I ordered a generously-sized
side salad as well that sported crunchy cucumber and pepper
You’ll also find roast beef, turkey, tuna salad and seafood
salad in a variety of sandwiches.
My wife’s pursuit of culinary happiness led her to the Nirvana,
with its three different cheeses (Swiss, American and provolone)
melted over slices of avocado, tomato and onion, drizzled
with Seattle sauce. It’s one of several meatless wraps into
which hummus, tabouli, portobello mushrooms or even a garden
burger can figure.
Java Jazz also offers pita platters for catered events, which
is a nice variation on the usual sandwich array. If you prefer
more bread, a handful of sub options contain some of the above
combos. One is Cousin Luigi’s Italian Mix, with salami, capicola,
ham, provolone and more.
One of the glories of urban life is access to a coffeeshop
breakfast. Java Jazz offers bagels, of course, and enhances
them with a variety of additions: egg, bacon, ham, cheese,
sausage, each combo costing no more than $5.
Get that wake-up sugar in your system faster with a muffin,
choosing from (the day I went) banana nut, cinnamon coffee
cake, cranberry nut, lowfat orange, blueberry (old-fashioned
or low-fat), golden zucchini raisin, corn, and cappuccino
Other pastries (almost all of them baked on the premises)
include classical Danish, plain, blueberry or chocolate croissants,
fruit turnovers, cinnamon buns and brownies. Have a brownie
with organic Brown Cow ice cream. I’ll plug for the sweet,
flaky chocolate croissant, both crisp and gooey when warmed.
The cookies we saw included gluten-free almond, peanut butter
and good-old chocolate chip. You can stock up, economically,
from a basket of day-old items on the counter.
Of course, it’s coffee over which you’ll linger. It’s all
here: flavored coffee (pumpkin pie, vanilla caramel and hazelnut,
for example), decaf, latte, au lait, along with an extensive
menu of espresso drinks. There’s also a good tea selection
along with fountain and Italian sodas. I contented myself
with a cappuccino, and enjoyed the sandwich as well as the
Callan bought the business in May 2007. “It came with an established
customer base,” she says. “I’ve seen some attrition, but I’m
also seeing lots of new people. Delmar has historically been
a town of very conservative values, but that’s changing as
younger people from the nearby cities move in, looking for
good schools and neighborhoods. This is a place that can bring
together a great variety of old customers and new.”
here for a list of recently reviewed restaurants.
Thread Confections is a Slingerlands-based candy
maker whose wares are featured at Java Jazz Café;
it’s also just been chosen to participate in this
year’s American Express Holiday Wishlist Guide.
Cardholders will be deluged with appropriate documentation,
and regular customers are invited to use coupon
code RTCNEWS002 for a 15-percent discount. You’ll
find the candies at redthreadconfections.com.
. . . Heat up your night with tapas and salsa.
In this case, the latter refers to the dance,
which will be taught at El Platano (198
First St., Troy) at 6 or 8:30 PM on Nov. 10. Featured
eats are Spanish tapas by chef Jackie Baldwin,
with a menu including shrimp la plancha,
grilled mini chorizos, jamon serrano, boquerones
(fresh anchovies), bacon-wrapped dates, artichokes
jerez, garbanzo beans and spinach, and
more. El Platano’s chef Pedro will be concocting
some appropriate beverages. It’s $25 per person,
and you need to make reservation in advance at
the restaurant or by calling 272-3011. While you’re
at, make a reservation for Pedro’s Gingerbread
House Workshop on Nov. 24, where attendees will
be shown the process of producing a gingerbread
house and will take home their very own self-
decorated unit. . . . Remember to pass your scraps