Monday, May 16, 2011

You May Not See Any Stainless Steel,…

but this place has the soul of a diner.

We are here in Springfield, IL visiting our cousin Dora and primed for a full day exploring the 5th Annual Route 66 Garage Sale. What better way to start than with a hearty breakfast to fortify us for a day of wheeling and dealing? So Dora suggested that we begin the day at Jungle Jim’s Café. I’d like to think that Chuck and I would have found this place—eventually—but it is always great to have a family member who knows the territory.

As hockeyco wrote on “…the parking lot was…packed to the brim. We were seated quickly and the staff was friendly. Good people-watching, as it was all locals eating there. The place is loaded with Nascar stuff, fun to try (to) see it all while waiting for the food to arrive.“

In addition to the NASCAR posters, the décor boasted a plethora of Route 66 memorabi-lia, t-shirts hung from the ceiling, and a bulletin board festooned with photos. It appears that “Jim” is a fixture behind the counter and many consider these stools to be the best seats in the house.

This is strictly a breakfast and lunch house and shares the concept of daily specials with the plate lunch houses of Louisiana. Monday it’s chicken and noodles. Tuesday brings meatloaf or stuffed peppers. Come on Wednesday and you can enjoy pork roast or country fried steak. Thursday it’s a chopped sirloin, while on Friday its rib eye or pot roast. Weekends bring the Chef’s Choice. Prices? We don’t know, but the priciest item on the menu is less than $8.00. Cynthias on chimes in and states that Jungle Jim’s has “the best rib-eye steak sandwich anywhere.”

But we were too early for lunch and concentra-ted on the breakfast menu. The breakfast special that day was called the Best Deal and consisted of two pancakes, two eggs, and two strips of bacon for a mere $3.99. The menu also included a long list of omelets, pan-cakes, French toast, meat and egg combos, and breakfast sandwiches.

Dora, figuring that we would be stopping later that day for lunch, went the light route. Her choice was the bacon and egg breakfast sandwich with Swiss cheese on whole wheat toast. No. I didn’t grab a half off her plate to sample, so we will take Dora’s word that the sandwich was delicious.

I was going to order the biscuits and gravy until Chuck announced that this would be his choice. Figuring that our readers didn’t want to read about two orders of biscuits and gravy, I made the ultimate sacrifice and chose the corned beef hash and eggs. This was a very good choice on my part. First, the over-easy eggs were perfect. The whites were cooked to the set point but the yolks were still runny and flowed onto the plate like a yellow stream.

The corned beef hash was your old-fashioned hash. And it was just what I wanted. Somehow I am always disappointed when I get
“gussied up” hash at a restaurant trying to be nouveau. I want straightforward hash, even if that means that it comes into the restaurant in a “ready to fry” state. My serving was fried with a crisp exterior and a creamy and soft interior. And, to my delight, it wasn’t overly salty and I wasn’t looking for water the rest of the day.

So Chuck ordered the biscuits and gravy with a side of American fried potatoes. (His other potato choices were home fries and hash browns.) The potatoes were almost like a thick potato chip and I thought they were wonderful. But I suspect that Chuck would have been happier with a more traditional home fry.

Now to the biscuits and gravy. Outrageously good. First, these were A-One biscuits. Light, fluffy, and no baking soda aftertaste. These were best biscuits we have had in about two years and were the perfect foundation for the gravy. And the gravy was delicious. It was studded with lots of sausage chunks; it was well seasoned with black pepper; and it was lacking any pasty raw flour taste. It was so good that I used slices of my toast to help him clean his plate.

This 5.0 Addie breakfast was a great start to the day and a great start to our visit with Dora in Springfield.

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