Butter & Jam
NJ Town: Madison
Cuisine: Brunch

Hipster Jr. Jr. thinks brunch is stupid. We had a whole discussion about it the other day, and I must say that she made some pretty salient points. Why the hybrid? Isn’t everything either breakfast or lunch? Sometimes on the early side. Sometimes later. But, ultimately, brunch food trends breakfast-y. An omelette at 11:30 a.m. is still just an omelette. She was way more nuanced and convincing on the topic, of course, because she apparently cares more about the distinction than I do. It offends her, this whole brunch thing. I get it.

Butter & Jam is a brunch joint — of this there is not doubt. The vibe is kind of your-divorced-friend’s-new-construction-condo-in-Queens. In other words, it has absolutely zero personality, is 100% hard surfaces, involves mostly white and blonde woods and treats sound like a predatory Howitzer that specifically seeks out ear canals. The complete lack of any identifiable anything and complete vanilla feel of the joint becomes more evident when you realize Butter & Jam magically becomes Pico & Guac at 5:30 PM every day. And while the absolutely bizarre choice to strip the space of any identifiable anything for brunch almost works in a Matrix kind of way, I have to think that as a Mexican restaurant, it’s completely baffling.

I’ll lay off the look of the place for a minute and focus on the main attraction: the brunch! It seems their jam is jam. It’s like butta. But also butter. So we got a butter & jam board, which is a thing you share with other brunching adults and includes house-made flavored butters and fresh jams, mini croissants, mini corn muffins and mini buttermilk biscuits. I mean, how could that be bad? And, yes, the butter is pretty dang tasty on those little baked morsels. It’s $18 and technically serves two-to-four people, but it was plenty for those of us who knew we were also ordering food food.

Shame, as the board was better than the breakfast grub. I mean, something called a wild mushroom scramble is always dicey. Getting that egg-to-shroom ratio correct is rough. I dig umami, but too much of that and not enough of this makes for a kind of dry-ish experience. It needed cheese or something, uh, moist and/or creamy to cut the density of the thing. And, weirdly, the toast was also kind of dry and cardboard-like. Not that I needed more bread, I suppose. But for a bread specialist, I expected more. As luck would have it, their coffee is decent. I think it’s just brewed Illy, but it kept the food, um, wet and malleable. Sorry to be gross, but we all understand how hydration works. Water also helped. Ultimately, this isn’t going to the cozy brunch you and your girlfriends might hope for. It’s not going to be the culinary experience of a lifetime. But, hey, if you love little breads, butter and a bottomless mug of hot joe, this’ll work for a Sunday some time between breakfast and lunch.

30 Cook Plaza – Madison