The shtick: Chef Jeff Mauro, who logged time at both Charlie Trotter’s and North Pond, sticks to his fine-dining guns, infusing the staples with fancy-pants flair.
The vibe: Mauro nabbed prime Logan Boulevard real estate (especially evident on farmers market Sundays, the first of which comes this weekend) when he relocated his daytime-only spot from Ukrainian Village in 2011. The modern café is aesthetically pleasing–but it's not overly comfortable, thanks in part to plastic seating. On the Saturday of our visit, the space was about half-filled—with families and a few bleary-eyed couples—during the early brunch shift. 7 out of 10
The food: The French toast has been heaped with accolades (and rightfully so—it’s a dream), but we chose oatmeal as our sweet component this time. This version—cooked-to-order stone ground oats with nuggets of caramelized banana, a sprinkle of crunchy streusel, and pour-it-yourself porter-infused gastrique—puts all gummy, forgettable bowls of instant oats to shame. To satisfy our savory tooth, we picked the burrito suizo without hesitation. There’s so much to love here—shredded braised beef; a buckwheat crêpe jacket; and smoky gouda, jardinière, and a just-right sunnyside egg topping. Consume this thing solo and you’ll find yourself is the most blissful of food comas. 10 out of 10
The drinks: A glass of OJ sounded good, but the Lunch Box (Pilsner, fresh-squeezed orange juice, and Disaronno) sounded fabulous. Too bad the proportions were off, and the heavy-handed liqueur pour made it nearly too sweet to drink. The Bloody Mary (Tito’s vodka and house-made bloody mix) arrived garnished with horseradish cheddar, celery (leaves and all), and a pickle. It was zesty and hearty, and fared better than the former, but neither cocktail fully won us over. 5 out of 10
The service: Our waiter was a peach, fielding unusual requests (more beer to cut the Lunch Box’s sweetness; unbuttered toast for our toddler companion) in stride. 9 out of 10
Overall: Moving into Lula and Longman’s brunch turf is a bold move. Jam undoubtedly lacks the x-factor (and the crowds) of its high-profile neighbors, but it rivals them in ambition. The drinks are forgettable, but the food is killer. 8 out of 10