For a breakfast scone or muffin, cookie, or delectable piece of cake, you can’t do much better than Jane. Pastry chef and owner Amanda Michael has created a combination coffeehouse-cafe in the long, narrow space that previously housed Bittersweet. Jane (named for Michael’s daughter) has cool black-and-white décor, a quirky yak head mounted on the wall, and a glass-fronted coffee bar that showcases not only the pastries, but also the Four Barrel coffee and espresso. When you order a cup of coffee at Jane, it’s made using a Chemex or French press, never poured from a pot. And the teas are provided by Five Mountain, a local tea company that offers organic whole leaf teas from around the world.
I’m already addicted to the currant scones and the “crazy” cookies (chocolate chip, toffee, marshmallow – delish!), and my daughter swears by the pumpkin and lemon tea breads. On an average day at Jane, you might also find savory scones, cinnamon rolls, blueberry muffins, coconut cake, and happily for the gluten intolerant, gluten-free muffins and cookies that taste amazing. All the pastries are in the $3 range.
Jane’s lunch menu features an Asian chicken salad, a veggie chopped salad, and a quinoa salad; several panini; and scrambled eggs with homemade chutney and cheddar on sourdough ($7–$9.50). For breakfast, the granola with fresh fruit and yogurt can’t be beat. And Jane has Strauss soft-service ice cream in chocolate or vanilla for those rare hot days (or not).
While Jane is frequently packed, especially at lunchtime, it’s fairly peaceful, far from the hubbub that exists just down the street at Bun Mee, where the lines frequently stretch out the door onto the sidewalk for lunch and dinner. Named for the phonetic pronunciation of the popular Vietnamese sandwiches, báhn mi, this busy cafe specializes in just that: spicy, flavorful sandwiches.
Owner and CEO Denise Tran was born in Vietnam and then lived with her family in New Orleans. Tran grew up eating traditional Vietnamese food, especially báhn mi, and after a stint practicing law in Seattle, she and her husband moved to New York where Tran began extensive research in preparation for opening her own báhn mi shop. Many of the recipes originated with Tran’s mother and have been tweaked by Tran to reflect fresh, seasonal ingredients and a creative sensibility.
Bun Mee, in the former Tango Gelato space, has small tables in front along with bar seating where you can watch the chefs at work, but the day I was there, the biggest business seemed to be in takeout. Various sandwiches, prepared to order on light, French-style rolls delivered to the restaurant from a San Jose Vietnamese bakery, were wrapped tightly in brown paper and whisked away.
The sandwiches range from a grilled five-spice chicken – my personal favorite – loaded with caramel aioli, shaved onion, pickled carrots and daikon, cucumber, jalapeno, and cilantro ($5.95); to the Bun Mee combo, with roast pork, pâté de compagne, mortadella, garlic aioli, and the same fiery veggies ($6.50, watch out, jalapenos are served with the seeds!). For nonmeat eaters there’s a smoky eggplant sandwich ($6.25), and seafood sandwiches include sardine ($5.95) and fried catfish ($7.95).
Bun Mee also serves several entree salads and rice plates ($9.75–$11.95), and sides include some of the best sweet potato fries ($4.95) you’ll find anywhere. In addition to Vietnamese coffee, iced or hot, they make their own kaffir limeade, a sweet and citrusy foil to pepper’s heat, and strawberry lychee aqua fresca.
I had the pleasure of chatting with Tran who’s usually somewhere on-site, meeting customers, checking on orders, or helping out the staff, and her cheerful demeanor adds loads of charm to this instant Fillmore hit.
Jane: 2123 Fillmore Street (near Sacramento); daily 7 a.m.–6 p.m.; 415-931-5263, www.janeonfillmore.com
Bun Mee: 2015 Fillmore Street (near Pine); Monday–Thursday 11 a.m.–10 p.m., Thursday 11 a.m.–11 p.m., Saturday–Sunday 11 a.m.–10 p.m.; takeout and delivery available; 415-800-7696, www.bunmee.com