When it comes down to choosing a place to enjoy our weekend brunch in the Lehigh Valley, Stephen and I are creatures of habit. At the very beginning of our relationship, when I was still an undergraduate, we'd head to the diner. Eating at the diner always brought back memories of visits with my grandparents when I was a child. You see, early in the morning, before anyone else in the house woke up, my grandfather and I would get in the car and drive to the diner down the street to have breakfast, just the two of us.
Eventually, Stephen and I phased the diner out as an option for brunch. We realized we probably weren't doing ourselves any favors by eating the heavy, greasy diner fare on a semi-regular basis. Thankfully, the Blue Sky Cafe entered our lives and became the new favorite brunch spot. Waiting for a table or two spots at the counter to become available became part of our weekend routine, and I was perfectly content with keeping it that way. But Stephen was recently introduced to a restaurant by his neighbor, and he just had to bring me there so I could see how much they loved it.
Before we left for the restaurant, I was told that we may have to wait a while for a table, so I brought my Kindle to keep me occupied should that actually be the case. However, when we went inside, we found that we didn't have to wait for a table at all. Perfect timing! While we waited for our coffee, I took a few minutes to soak in the atmosphere. Floral tablecloths and vases of fresh flowers made the restaurant feel very cozy. In fact, the decor at Jumbars reminded me of the decor at Buttonwoods Fish & Chips in Rhode Island, where I had breakfast with my grandparents.
Unfortunately, the sense of calm that I felt at Buttonwoods was not experienced at Jumbars. I would have felt more comfortable had we not been sitting in such a high-traffic area. With servers and customers both walking back and forth, I felt like we were in the way, and I found myself shifting a little closer to the table next to us so I wouldn't accidentally elbow someone while taking a sip of coffee. Jumbars is small, with enough seating for, maybe, 30-40 people, so I could appreciate the need to maximize the use of the space as much as possible. But I'm not a fan of feeling claustrophobic while I'm trying to relax over brunch.
Since Stephen had eaten a Jumbars a couple of times before our brunch, he knew exactly what he wanted to order. Me? I needed a fairly significant amount of time to review the options on the menu. The variety of signature omelettes impressed me and knowing that I'd have to choose just one was the main reason why I couldn't make up my mind. Eventually, I settled on the New England Omelette ($8.50), made with Jumbars' house-made maple sage pork sausage, Granny Smith apples, and cheddar cheese and served with potatoes and toast. (I substituted a house-made English muffin for the toast for an additional $0.50. Why not?)
The combination of ingredients made me excited to taste the flavors that reminded me of my New England upbringing. And I had heard so many wonderful things about the food at Jumbars, I was pumped up for a life-changing meal. Unfortunately, I was underwhelmed. While I was totally feeling the rustic presentation of my omelette and accompanying sides, the flavors weren't balanced. I loved the flavor of the homemade sausage and could pick up on the maple notes, but the crisp, sharp taste of the Granny Smith apples was completely lost. The apples were sliced thinly, probably to prevent a raw piece of apple finding its way into the dish. Personally, I would have preferred bigger pieces of apple with a slight bite to them. It's that bite that makes eating a Granny Smith apple so enjoyable, and the bigger pieces would allow the flavor of the apple to be more pronounced rather than be overshadowed by the sausage and the cheese. It was almost as if the apples weren't there at all.
It's true that my first meal at Jumbars didn't meet my expectations. But I'm not going to completely rule the restaurant out as a brunch option in the future. I'm still intrigued by the combination of ingredients in the New England Omelette, and I'm determined to try it again next time.
1342 Chelsea Avenue
Bethlehem, PA 18018
(610) 866-1660 | Map
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