There are two different ways to look at Jams, the Midtown re-vamp of celebrity chef Jonathan Waxman's alleged 80's "hit" restaurant nobody was clamoring for.
If you look at it through the lens of someone who's tuned into the world of chefs, restaurants, and the expectations that come along with big time openings, then Jams is an unmitigated disaster. Jonathan Waxman is a big name and a great chef. Barbuto was pioneering, and remains one of New York's most cherished restaurants; we went recently, and everything we ate was fantastic. Jams, on other hand, is a hot mess. The service is amateur hour, the food is about as exciting as wearing a suit to work in the sweaty summer, and they pretty much miss the mark on all "hospitality" details. Servers were like ghosts who left dirty plates on the table for the entire meal, never refilled waters, and generally didn't seem to care that paying customers sat in seats, hungry and potentially looking for another alcoholic beverage. Some of the food is fine, but it's nothing worth going out of your way for, and some of it is very, very bad. We had inedible gnocchi (how is that even possible?). I hope Jonathan Waxman is home counting cookbook money or cooking at his great new restaurant in Nashville, because it'd be really embarrassing if he was actually in the kitchen at Jams, and not just the face of it. If we were ranking Jams solely based on the failure of one of the biggest restaurant openings of the year, it would be awarded a 2.0. In that respect, this place is a joke.
On the other hand, this is Midtown. There are plenty of people in this part of town in desperate need of reasonable restaurants, who don't really care who the chef is or how good the food is supposed to be. Sometimes you're just looking for a centrally located, stylish place to entertain a client who's in town from Tampa. For Midtown business meetings where food and restaurant experience isn't the main focus, well, Jams is a pretty solid option. If we were ranking Jams solely on a scale of Midtown, it gets a 7.0.
Ultimately, Jams is kind of like the restaurant version of a Men's Wearhouse suit. If you care about style at all, you wouldn't be caught dead rocking one. However, if you simply couldn't care less - and seriously, BLESS YOU - and are content rocking that baggy, boxy uniform, well then, you won't be bothered by Jams' shortcomings.
Lucky for us, we don't have to wear suits to the office.
Tuna poké, so hot right now. Jams goes Asian style, with soy and sesame and the results are pretty good. It was one of the better dishes we tasted.
A mini stack of silver dollars dressed all for prom with smoked salmon, caviar and a bunch of other bling. This is the expensive prom date you'll wind up regretting though. They're not terrible, but they're not worth $25. They do look pretty, though.
Huge pieces of blubbery, slippery octopus come drizzled in aioli, and are really tough to chew on. We didn't like this one at all, and would certainly stay far away. Especially if eating big tentacles sounds intimidating.
Gummy nuggets of potato-filled pasta which had no texture, and no flavor, mixed with a minimal medley of fixins including brussels sprouts and pecorino, which somehow tasted, literally, like nothing. No flavor. No substance. Really, really disappointing, especially considering the kind of gnocchi we're used to eating at Barbuto.
Better than the gnocchi, but still, nothing to write home about. We liked the healthy helping of crab, but could have gone for additional ingredients as this was once again, a snooze.
A totally fine plate of bird, it's just not on the Barbuto level, which is one of the most legendary chicken dishes ever. We'd order it again though if we found ourselves here.
A nicely cooked piece of white fish, swimming in a sauce that was way too thin, with charred leeks and salsa verde. Overall, we liked this one. It could have been better, but we'd order it again.
Nothing to see here. Tasty steak, with sides of fingerling potatoes, shallots and served with chimichurri. We ate it, we'd eat it again, but we won't be thinking about it.