7520 NE Bothell Way
Kenmore WA 98028
Meet the Locals at this Kenmore Diner
By: Bryan R
Imagine a diamond in the rough-- no, wait, think more of an emerald, or maybe an opal, but still in the rough. Now you’re starting to get an idea about Jay’s Cafe. It’s one of those slightly out-of-the-way places that you might not visit unless you had a bit of a tip...
Jay’s Cafe offers a classic American diner experience with reasonable prices and tasty food (not something that can be said for all smalltime diners). A bit plain inside and out, Jay’s offers a homey atmosphere without any frills. A few moments after coming through the door, we were told in a friendly tone to go ahead and choose a seat. We opted for a quiet booth and pulled out the menus; one glance at it and we knew we were in for a veritable bounty of deliciously unhealthy eats. At Jay's, you’re sure to find some new food combos (mac & fish & chips, anyone?) to tempt your palate, along with traditional diner favorites.
The cafe is obviously a favorite haunt of locals from the nearby area. A quiet buzz was created by the many people greeting and chatting with each other, which helped produce a friendly and congenial atmosphere. However, aside from some artificial houseplants, the interior was bare and sported slightly uncomfortable seats and tables. It was a bit like Denny’s, but rougher around the edges (though some might prefer to say that it has character).
Grant, who was in the mood for breakfast food, settled for his perennial favorite: eggs benedict served with a thick slice of ham and hollandaise sauce. The hollandaise sauce stood out with its creamy, tarter lemon-like flavor, which isn’t usually found in hollandaise sauce. The thick slice of ham was pleasantly sweet, and grilled just enough to leave a couple of char lines. Although the muffins were somewhat uninspiring, the hash browns were crispy (but not overdone) and quite enjoyable.
The other two of us opted for items off the lunch menu. Steve chose the southern fried chicken sandwich, which is basically a burger made of several pieces of deep fried chicken strips, lettuce, and Swiss cheese on a sesame-seed bun. I know it sounds like something from a fast-food joint like Burger King, but the sandwich tasted far better on every level. I ordered a Jay’s Cafe special: the Mac & Fish & Chips. It was exactly what the name implies: fish and chips served with a side of macaroni and cheese. It was just the right combo to hit the spot, which is why this dish ended up being the unsuspecting winner at Jay’s. We were especially surprised by the creaminess and cheesiness of the mac and cheese. The fish was breaded, deep-fried cod that was quite good. Unfortunately, although the main dish was good, the fries tasted as if they had come from the frozen food aisle; they weren’t terrible, but they weren’t very good, either.
Jay’s Cafe epitomizes the simple and scrumptious food philosophy of local diners. Though it won’t be winning any awards for ambiance, Jay’s Cafe has pleasantly surprising dishes. Although each of our entrees had some element that was a little sub-par (e.g., muffin or the fries), they were solid examples of good, American diner cuisine. Is it worth a try? We think so...
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