JUST LIKE MOTHER'S
110-60 Queens Boulevard
Forest Hills, NY 11375
Just Like Mother's (JLM) has a reputation for being one of the neighborhood's go-to brunch spots, in no small part because Time Out Magazine profiled it once upon a time and said so. It's been around for seemingly forever and I decided that it was finally time to go there for this famous brunch. Pike, who'd been there many a time, was hesitant. "They don't serve mimosa's". Mimosa's be damned, we went.
JLM, this past Sunday, was packed with a fifteen minute wait for a table (meanwhile, over at Old Vienna Cafe, there were plenty of open tables). "I've never seen them this crowded" said someone else waiting for a table. The waitresses scrambled, frantically cleaning tables and bringing out dishes. We were soon seated and coffees were ordered. I'll reserve my description of the interior for the full dinner review that I'll do later. Long story short, I'd upgrade.
In any event, the waitresses were so overburdened by what must have been an unexpected crowd that coffee took about fifteen minutes (once it did come, though, someone kept refilling my cup with lightning efficiency) and the toast that was supposed to come with my meal arrived after I had finished more than half of it. So service was on the weak side, but I'm happy to give them a pass this time.
As Pike warned, brunch comes without mimosas or bloody Mary's or anything to calm your Saturday hangover. And, really, brunch at JLM almost doesn't come with brunch. There's a breakfast menu of diner breakfast standards like omelets and pancakes, but not much else. Most of the menu is lunch stuff. Burgers and sandwiches and, of course, Polish food like blintzes and pirogi, which I wasn't going to order (I'll save those for the dinner review).
As for the brunch, Pike ordered the Pancakes, with a side of scrambled eggs and a huge dollop of jelly. Honestly, I wasn't impressed. They were dense and overcooked. They weren't inedibly bad or anything like that. They were just forgettable. The product of a rushed kitchen? Perhaps. I can't rule that out. Certainly the presentation needed work.
My choice was the only unique brunch dish on the menu. Polish Style Poached Eggs, two eggs over sliced ham with a creamy dill sauce, served with toast and a choice of side. I chose the home fries. It was good. The eggs were nice and runny, the sauce was tangy and sharp. The home fries were nothing to write home about, but home fries never are. If they found a few more brunchy dishes in the cookbook like this one, I can see myself going back. But if not...
Basically, JLM is a diner and brunch in a diner is something I try to avoid. Brunch, as I've said countless times (if not to you readers, then to my imaginary friends) is all about atmosphere. It should be bright and happy and colorful and there should be fruit and berries and make you feel like a WASPy chiche from a Caddyshack movie. That's not JLM. It's dark, it's super hot, it's stuffy and at one point during our brunch, the table next to ours starts packing up to leave. So one of their party decides to sit and wait at our table. And while she's there, starts picking up my camera and looking it over. No "hey, do you mind if I take a peek at this new-fangled piece of equipment?" Then she starts chiming into our conversation. This sort of casual discourtesy was infuriating, but somehow it was very difficult to scold an 80 year old. "Stop touching my shit and mind your own business" is easier felt than said.
Two coffees, two large juices, two breakfasts, tax and tip came to $35.