A burger for breakfast?
The Colazione Burger ($11.59) sounded so decadent that I knew I had to try it the moment I saw it on the menu at JoJack’s Espresso Bar & Cafe, a casual dining spot in Churchland Shopping Center in Portsmouth.
The burger was moist and well-seasoned, with salt and pepper incorporated throughout the patty rather then sprinkled after the fact. Perched atop the cheddar-smothered burger was a single, perfectly poached egg. When the egg was pierced, beautiful yellow yolk poured out, adding a richness to the meat. A savory and sweet bacon jam and garlic mayonnaise were more refined accompaniments than the usual ketchup and mustard, while salty kettle chips and a thick pickle spear rounded out the plate.
The menu promised many other mouthwatering breakfast offerings. Luckily, a perk of being a reviewer is that my dining companions can’t refuse my polite requests to sample their dishes, so I also got to try more typical breakfast fare on a recent Sunday morning.
Thick-cut cinnamon French toast ($6.99) was a bit spongy and could have used a couple more minutes on the grill to reach a darker golden hue. There was a bit of confusion over my husband’s request to add banana slices. The employee who took the order asked if he wanted the bananas in the batter. A few minutes later, another employee came out to explain that the bananas could not be added to the batter but could be grilled and placed atop the toast. At an extra charge of $1.59, the slices served seemed skimpy.
The Big Breakfast ($8.99) was more than ample for a hearty appetite and offered several options for customization. My friend selected scrambled eggs, bacon that turned out to be crispy without being tough, potato cakes that avoided being too greasy and two large, fluffy pancakes with warm syrup. If that doesn’t sound like enough food for you, there’s an even bigger breakfast, the Big Country Breakfast ($11.99).
Eggs Benedict ($9.99) came with two poached eggs on top of French baguette slices with grilled prosciutto, homemade Hollandaise sauce that wasn’t as plentiful as it could have been and fresh dill – a beautiful presentation. Grilling the prosciutto intensified the ham flavor. Crispy roasted potatoes on the side held a possible hint of rosemary.
Although the menu doesn’t say so, gluten-free bread is available when requested. I tried a couple of pieces of gluten-free toast on the side of my breakfast burger. The slices held up nicely, unlike some gluten-free breads that seem to crumble the minute you bite into them.
For drinks, two of us went cold and two of us went hot. Raspberry lemonade ($3.59) was a pleasant combination of sweet and tart, while blackberry iced tea ($3.59) was subtle. Many additional flavors are available.
Figuring a decadent breakfast deserved an equally indulgent beverage, I ordered a Nutty Monkey ($4.89 for a small), a latte with chocolate, hazelnut and banana. It tasted like liquid Nutella, and I adored every last sip, even though the plastic mug didn’t seem to keep the drink warm for long enough. I also admit to being slightly disappointed that the barista didn’t bother to create a temporary art piece within the foam. No Instagram picture here.
One of my companions tried a chai latte ($5.99 for a large), a satisfying blend of chai tea, “special” spices and steamed milk with a flavor that grew more intense toward the bottom of the mug. Whether the chai lived up to the menu’s boast that it is “famous for being the best in town” is difficult to judge.
At JoJack’s, you order and pay at the counter, and a server brings you your food and beverages. If you’re in a hurry, you can call ahead to order. There’s also a drive-through. Based on how terrific my breakfast burger was, I can’t wait to return to see what’s for lunch and dinner.
JoJack's Espresso Bar and Cafe
5700 Churchland Blvd. Suite 39
Portsmouth, VA 23703
Sunday 7:30am - 3:00pm
M-F 6:30am - 8:00pm
Saturday 7:30am - 8:00pm
This review originally appeared on PilotOnline.com.