Saturday, August 20, 2016

Café Marie Jeanne

While there are a few places that are really good there, I generally don't think of Humboldt Park for dining out.  I happened to be in the neighborhood one morning for other reasons and I hadn't eaten, so I decided to check out a place on a corner that I knew to be blowing up.  From the outside, Café Marie Jeanne looks like one of the many independent coffee shops or small restaurants in the city.  It sits on a corner and has large windows on both sides of the corner.  The sign is nice, although understated, with painted script on the lower part of the windows.  Walking in, the look is of a cafe, with hardwood floors, a painted tin ceiling, several tables laid out cafeteria-style (straight lines), and a few booths.  As you walk in, there is a small display counter with some beer, sodas, and produce, and pastries, which is one end of a long slate topped bar.  While they operate primarily as a restaurant, you can also buy fruit, milk, coffee, some produce, beer, and wine for take out, as in a market.  There seemed to be another dining room in the back, but I was happy in the front at the bar where the beer, wine, coffee, and liquor were.  While I was given a couple of menus consisting of breakfast and drinks to look at, I also noticed that there were several chalkboard menus at different places that emphasized specials, coffee, and beer and liquor.  While I was looking at, and comparing, all of the menus, I decided to start things off with some coffee.  I had not had a Capuccino in a while and they used a good coffee (Metric), so that's where I started.  I was happily surprised that, in addition to good tasting coffee, I also got some nice Latte Art.
The a la carte menu features a lot of meats, cheeses, produce, and pastries, so it potentially could take a little work to put together a composed meal, but a pastry is a good start.  I ordered a Ham & Comte (Cheese) Croissant and from the start, it reminded me of something I might find at a French Patisserie.  The plate, in fact, had a blue design around the edge and a blue farmhouse painting in the center.  It really reminded me of something I bought in France years ago.  The croissant was very light with a crispy and flaky crust and a nice chewy interior.  The ham was thinly sliced in the center and was very tender and flavorful and the Comte, while mostly melted into the croissant , still provided a nice funky cheese flavor.  I would have been happy with this alone, but there was more to come.
While I said that there were a lot of pieces and it could take a little work to create a composed dish, Café Marie Jeanne provided an easy way to do it.  On the menu is a Breakfast Sandwich that you essentially choose yourself.  How it works is that you choose two items from the Breakfast A La Carte Menu which are then placed, with cheese (White Cheddar) and an egg to order, on Country Wheat Bread or an English Muffin.  You could also build your sandwich on a muffin for a premium.  For my sandwich, I chose Smoked Brisket, and Jowl Bacon on an English Muffin with my egg over medium (so I get a little yolk, but it doesn't explode), which with the egg and cheese, made for a seriously hearty sandwich.  Everything about this sandwich was very good (although it was a little work to be able to get a good first bite because it was pretty big).  The brisket and jowl bacon were very flavorful and slightly crispy, but not charcoal, the egg was cooked perfectly and the cheese was melted.  I really enjoyed this, as well as my breakfast in general, and will definitely have to return to try different versions of the sandwich. 

2 comments:

  1. Hi. I'm Mike. Chef at Cafe Marie-Jeanne. I'm glad you enjoyed your visit and I hope you come back soon! I would like to point out that we have always used Metric coffee. While we live dark matter, we do not pour it at our cafe.

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    1. Thanks for the correction, Mike. It has been corrected in the blog post. I knew that the coffee served was local and I remembered that it was not Inteligentsia, Ipsento, or Bow Truss. I just couldn't remember which one it was. Dark Matter is very close so I thought it was a good guess. Again, thank you and I will try to return soon.

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