Hearty, familiar contemporary fare at new spots Jamber and Company
Wines (happily, there are options: 2.5 oz. and 5 oz. glasses, 1/2 or full jugs), like Darcie Kent Gruner Veltliner from Monterey or a Margerum Grenache Blanc from Santa Barbara, flow easily from taps, with beers such as Almanac's Farmhouse Ale or a hibiscus saison, Pacific Brewing Lab's Nautulis. In my visits, there's a relaxed welcome from staff best experienced sitting at the rustic wood bar. Jess' bacon jam recipe is a highlight: a savory, textured pleasure of a spread, no matter what it's served with. Mr. Meatloaf ($15) is the star, a hefty, tender slab of buffalo meatloaf wrapped in bacon, accompanied by mashed potatoes and roasted carrots. I often find myself bored by big hunks of ground meat. Not so here. Jamber's meatloaf is about as good as meatloaf gets.
Two more standouts: PB & Jam ($11) is a hunk of pork belly layered in a sandwich with peanut butter and that Jamber bacon jam. Most starters, like pretzels and fried mozzarella, are on the heavy side; the top one is easily Parmesan rosemary mashed potater tots ($8) — warm mashed potatoes oozing out of lightly fried breading — with, yes, Jamber bacon jam. After a decent mac 'n cheese ($10) or freshly generous salads ($7–$9), a pot pie ($12–$14), namely ratatouille, sounded brilliant but was a soggy, funky mash of vegetables in flavorless crust. Likewise, the beet Jamburger ($10, there is a veal-beef burger for $12) made me sorry I took the vegetarian path. Despite fresh bread, it tasted like slices of beet on a bun rather than the creative beet-veggie patties I've had that never replace a "real" burger but can be a worthy sandwich on their own.
Despite a couple difficult dishes, there's enough here to love at this all-day SoMa spot for a drink and a filling bite.
858 Folsom, SF. (415) 273-9192, www.jambersf.com
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