J & M Cafe
527 SE Ash, 230-0463

The J & M Café, if you haven't been there, is one of those places you very occasionally drive past, and say "Hey, what's that place? I need to go there."

It's almost never open, so even if you're hungry, this sentiment often goes unfulfilled, and you forget about the place until the next time you drive past and it's not open again. Anyhow, this time I happened to drive past at 1 pm on a Saturday--long before I'm usually out of my jammies--and I sure as heck wasn't going to miss the opportunity to eat there.

They do the get-your-own-coffee-and-water thing, which I love, and serve Stumptown coffee, which I double-love. Most notably, the service is out-of-control fast, friendly, and efficient, in the traditional breakfast place vein, unlike the typical slackish Portland bar breakfast that takes forever.

They have a bevy of strange-ingredient scrambles, including a house-made chorizo, roasted red pepper, cheddar, and sour cream scramble; a tofu, garlic, spinach, and feta scramble, and, on my particular dining occasion, an entirely interesting special. It was a densely populated scramble of roasted eggplant, pine nuts, green onion, fontina cheese, and a fresh artichoke salsa, which tasted a lot like a pico de gallo. While one might think this dish would be too confusing, they do a great job of not overloading on anything. The ingredients were fresh-tasting, the eggplant was deliciously seasoned, and the salsa was a cold, refreshing contrast. My only complaint was that the eggs could have been a little firmer, but I will certainly request that next time. The potatoes are cut in huge chunks, crisp on the outside, soft on the inside, and are greaseless, yet flavorful.

Their dishes are decidedly un-run-of the mill combinations and use fresh ingredients. Their eggs-benedict type dish, for example, is made with two basted eggs, bacon instead of ham, and a blend of cheeses in place of the hollandaise.

The big, airy auditorium space at the J & M is also a plus. You don't feel like you're sitting on top of anyone, and if it's not busy, you could comfortably chill over five or six cups of coffee--granted it's before 2 pm.