Did you know The Jam House in St Paul’s Square does food? No – me either.
If I carefully filter some hazy memories from nights out back in my mid twenties, I could tell you this spot is popular with those that enjoy live music. It’s also somewhere you might enjoy drinking enough to
fall down a flight of stairs bust out some overzealous dance moves. Truth is, it’s been so long since I ventured to this multi-level party venue I couldn’t remember much about it at all, aside from it being filled with people I once deemed ‘old’.
Approaching The Jam House – on the type of warm spring evening that makes your heart happy – it occurred to me I now am that lass on the wrong end of the 25-34 tick box, which on the last wave of my post-awards hangover made me wish I could slap wrinkle-free me in the mouth. Once inside I was heartened to see a real mix of people – old and young; men and women; tipsy and sober. Being that it was pre-8pm and the regular salsa dancing session hadn’t even started yet, the latter made me quietly proud.
So let’s get to the point: what is dinner like in a place that’s blasting out Latin beats to an excited crowd of thirsty ladies looking for their Ricky Martin and not really known for its food? Simply put, if you like people watching it’s quite good fun, but it’s also not the most exciting grub and it’s quite expensive. I’ll come back to this bit later..
We were given a table up on the balcony, allowing us to see the stage and eat without anyone doing an overexcited swing step (I googled – you’re welcome) into our food. The menu has some nice seasonal nods and enough choice without being overwhelming. Context: my new pet hate is menus that read like War and Peace and make picking three courses more complicated than my love life was the last time I visited this place.
Crab cakes had a perfectly crisp casing but a too delicate taste for me, with little crustacean flavour or texture. Between the strong basil mayonnaise and the sweet mango pieces, only a hint of crab came through. The charcuterie board with a mini Scotch egg faired better, with plentiful slices of quality cured meats and a decent Scotchy – well seasoned sausage meat and a just set quail yolk.
Pan roasted cod was well judged in terms of the flesh but lacked the crispy skin you’d hope for. Seasonal samphire and Jersey Royals – two of my favourite things – could have been the stars of this dish, but an abundance of a too rich hollandaise-like sauce (that wasn’t mentioned at all in the menu description) eventually overpowered everything else on the plate. A sirloin steak and chips come at an additional supplement with yet more dosh added for peppercorn sauce. Truly excellent triple cooked chips took the focus off the piece of beef, with my partner simply saying it was ‘fine’. A lacklustre cheeseboard and a trio of homemade sorbets completed the meal. I loved the zesty ginger scoop but winced at a mouthful of the mango alternative that was tooth-achingly sweet.
And so we come back to the price point: the summer menu comes in at £40 for three courses of pub grub. In the case of choosing the steak with a sauce you’re looking more at £50. While the food is generally nice enough, I left thinking it’s over priced – especially when you consider £37 in the likes of OPUS five minutes up the road gets you a more interesting and accomplished three courses. The last time I came to The Jam House I fell head over heels down the stairs, but I can’t say I’ve done the same for the food. It’s not bad, it just hasn’t proved to be very memorable either.
The Jam House, 3-5 St Paul’s Square, Birmingham, B3 1QU
Disclosure: This meal was complementary in return for honest feedback. All opinion, words and photos are mine, because faking it never helped anyone.