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Robert Neporadny, Jillys' catering and special events manager
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Cupcakes, in a variety of flavor combinations, are still king at Jilly's
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A sandwich board lists the day's specials.
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Two veterans of the local restaurant wars, chefs Dana Holland and Eddie Neill
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Jilly's Cupcake Bar & Cafe is located at 8509 Delmar (at I-170) in U. City; Jilly's Ice Cream Bar is just around the corner.
Comfort foods never had it so good. As if the previous cafe choices, decadent cupcakes and rich-as-Rockefeller ice cream wasn’t enough, owner Jill Segal brought serious contentment to her popular lunch cafe with a new menu (items listed here) that includes blue plate specials, melt-y sandwich offerings, a classic club, a few plates to share and a seasonal fruit and pecan salad even a penitent will enjoy.
“It took us months to get here,” Segal says.
A quartet of super-talented chefs contributed to the menu change, each in his own way, to create the dishes Segal envisioned to tempt customers at the cafe. First, they analyzed the previous menu. “We kept our brisket sandwich, brisket chili, chicken salad, French onion soup, egg salad and a few other things – we analyzed what sold, and kept what worked,” she says. “Then we tested, talked, added things and settled on the new items.”
Segal soon learned change isn’t always easy for customers. “During the test period, we took our Sunshine Salad off the menu for a short time, and customers lost their minds. ‘Bring it back!’ they said, so we did.” Like many of Jilly’s offerings, the salad of greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, marinated artichokes, smoked Gouda cheese , sunflower seeds, and rustic croutons in a house dressing layers flavors and textures to maximum effect.
Jilly’s chef Dana Holland joined forces to create the new menu with Dave Hruby (formerly of J. Buck’s), Greg Belobraydic (who is leaving Brasserie to work at Jilly’s), and his good friend Eddie Neill (all above).
“Dana developed the new menu,” Segal says. “Eddie came up with the blue plate specials. Dave and Greg added their ideas; they’ll be the ones to carry out the new menu. It all came together.”
Here’s what to look for:
Blue Plate Specials of classic comfort favorites pack punchy flavors in bowls so big you’ll probably have enough to take home dinner. If you’re not too greedy. Particularly if you want to top off lunch with a cupcake or some ice cream (Jilly's Ice Cream Bar is located right next door).
We sampled these three Blue Plates (all priced at $9.99):
- Shepherd’s Pie – A mixture of two-thirds ground lamb and one-third ground beef, with grated carrots, onions and vegetables in a flavorful broth topped with classic mashed potatoes good as they come, baked in the oven and served with a spoon to scoop up every last drop of the broth.
- Beef Stroganoff – the team sears a shoulder roast in the oven, then braises it to fork-tenderness with onions, wine and Portobello mushrooms, then finishes it with a bit of cream and sour cream. Served over wide tender noodles that catch every bit of the gravy.
- Turkey Pot Pie – Neill first proposed a Philly cheesesteak pot pie, but Hruby came up with a classic turkey pot pie: bite-sized pieces of turkey breast with celery, peas, corn, carrots and onions in a creamy rich broth topped with butter-rich puff pastry draped over all. “Segal runs a very democratic kitchen,” Neill says. “The cheesesteak idea? Over the top. Dave’s turkey pot pie is terrific.”
We have two more to look forward to:
- The daily savory quiche special, made fresh daily, served with a house salad
- Bacon Mac & Cheese with macaroni noodles in a slightly spicy sriracha cheese sauce topped with crumbled bacon.
New sandwiches include three melts and what’s billed as a Big Ol’ Classic Club piled high with fresh ham, turkey, bacon, lettuce, and tomato served with herbed aioli. Or you can club it with turkey alone.
We sampled the Brisket Melt (right), tasty as a sandwich comes. Tender brisket topped with melted cheddar cheese, a schmeer of French onion cream cheese, and cole slaw that’s sauced sweet and tangy with Dr. Pepper BBQ mopping sauce, all on toasty, grilled bread. We loved this slightly messy sandwich.
Other new melts include the Cubano, with roasted pork loin, country-style ham, sour pickles, Dijon mustard, and Swiss cheese, and a Philly Cheese Steak. You knew there’d be a cheese steak when we mentioned it as a pot pie possibility. It just sounds way too good to leave out.
So go for it. Collaborative comfort food at Jilly’s, just in time for spring. Indulge and enjoy.
Jilly’s Cupcake Bar & Cafe
Daily, 10:30 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Mon – Sat: 9 a.m. - 6 p.m.-ish (or until the cupcakes run out)
Sun: 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.-ish (or until the cupcakes run out)