Sam A.M. Cafe Celebrates Breakfast
Exterior of Sam A.M – Photo by Gia Portfino, © Harmony Media, NJ
“I do like them, Sam-I-am.” Even though the name is a throwback to Dr. Seuss’ book, this cafe does not have green eggs and ham on the regular menu. But you will find all sorts of wonderful egg and breakfast dishes in this country cozy nook in Jersey City. Sam A.M. is “for celebrating mornings and the ritual that is ‘American Breakfast,’” according to owner Sam Kirk.
When Kirk moved here seven years ago, he aspired to open a business in the area. After exploring Jersey City neighborhoods via different running routes, he discovered a real estate opportunity in Paulus Hook that seemed like the ideal location for the breakfast spot he envisioned. Fast forward to the birth of Sam A.M.
The cafe has a rustic feeling with a set-up of 10 small tables around a small counter area. Fair warning: It seems a bit hipster when walking in, but this is not a pretentious place. The people and atmosphere are welcoming, especially on a cool day when hot beverages and comfort food are what the body craves.
The waitress was over-accommodating, but not in an overbearing way. It’s better to be over-served than having to flag down staff. If you want to avoid the morning rush plan to arrive around 1 pm, especially on weekends when it’s packed, by then the brunch crowd should have cleared out. The afternoon is a good time to go if you want to have the full experience.
Start with coffee or tea. Sam A.M. uses Stumptown Coffee, which is cold press brewed without heat at room temperature for over 12 hours. The coffee menu has fun concotions as well, like a latte that they can infuse with a shot of chocolate or vanilla, which makes it feel a little more special. Sam A.M. also has a variety of enticing teas available, as expected in a morning joint. The fresh-squeezed orange juice, grapefruit juice and berry limeade all look appealing as well.
For lox-lovers, the“The Atlantic” ($8) is a breakfast sandwich with smoked salmon, cucumbers, onion and crème fraîche. It was packed to the gills with a generous amount of fish on doughy yet airy bread that was slightly salty and crisp.
The “The Classic” sandwich is a best-seller: a farm egg, thick bacon and cheddar on sourdough bread ($7). As it only comes with one egg, the sandwich is not big, if your appetite calls for it, do what most people do and order a side egg ($1 each). Additional sides include bacon, potatoes and green salad if you are hungrier. Sandwiches are served with coleslaw, which is addicting with its strong vinegar and pepper flavor.
The Chicken and Waffles breakfast plate (15) is a big hit here, served with gravy and cranberries. “This is so weird but so right!” said one patron, who was visiting from Europe. The cafe also serves lunch salads and lunch-type sandwiches (think pulled pork) that change seasonally. Chef Frances Samu, who received his training in classical French cuisine at the Culinary Arts Institute of New York City, oversees the kitchen.
For something sweet to grab-and-go, Sam A.M. has a large display of scrumptious-looking goodies. Amanda Samu, co-owner and wife to the chef, recommends the donuts, which are homemade daily. But the chocolate croissant won this visit. Flaky crust surrounding rich chocolate is a nice fix for a sugar craving. Donuts next time!
So chilltown chill, so friendly and so affordable.
Sam A.M. Cafe is located at 112 Morris St., and its hours of operation are weekdays from 6:30 am – 6 pm and weekends from 8 am – 3:30 pm. The kitchen closes daily at 2:30 pm. For more information, visit sam-am.com.
*Note: This article was updated on April 23, 2015.
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Photos by Gia Portfino, © Harmony Media, NJ