For a dish with “little” in its name, Jam Cafe’s Little Charlie is anything but. A large white bowl layered with perfectly seasoned hash browns, crumbled biscuits, chunks of ham, sliced green onion, melted cheese and sausage gravy—all tucked under two quivering sunny-side-up eggs—it’s a “smaller” version of the legendary Charlie Bowl, a dish easily shared between three people. (Vegetarians can opt for the Little Veggie, which is less meat-heavy but no less indulgent.) Jam owner Mike Deas-Dawlish has seen only three people eat the full-fledged Charlie Bowl. “He was a little guy, about 120 pounds, but he did it,” says Deas-Dawlish. “That and a stack of pancakes.”
If Jam Cafe seems familiar, it’s because it’s an expansion of the raucously busy, same-named cafe in Victoria. That location is owned and run by Jim and Candy Walmsley. They partnered with Deas-Dawlish to open Vancouver’s outpost this April, where Danica’s and, before that, the original Medina Cafe used to be.
It’s now a space that’s airy and quirky. “We like the brick and beam, the old-school, the rustic, funky museum look. Old knick-knacks that people can look at and ask, ‘What is that and where did you get it?’,” says Deas-Dawlish. They include an outboard motor, the periodic table of breakfast and a painting that lists Toronto streetcar stops. Much of the art is created by Candy Walmsley; the knick-knacks come from auctions and vintage stores.
The menu seems big but is carefully designed to provide fresh product all day: pancake batter made several times throughout service, real hollandaise made to order, and, of course, eggs (the cafe goes through nearly 4,000 each week). Jam Cafe offers lunch, but Deas-Dawlish says that 90 percent of the orders are still for breakfast items—and that suits him just fine. “I love eggs all day, bacon all day, and having that option because I’m not an early morning eater.”