The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The good, bad and ugly of JSB

The JSB Café serves as the training ground for culinary students interested in making a living in the restaurant business. More importantly, it’s the place to go for a quick bite on campus.

Upon entering the cafe, which sits comfortably across from the campus bookstore, a serious, casually dressed man greeted us. With a little frown on his furrowed brow, he reluctantly handed my colleague and I two paper menus.

We seated ourselves outside hoping a tropical atmosphere would heighten the experience. A plethora of green umbrellas speckled with bird droppings surrounded our table.

Our server, James, greeted us warmly. We ordered two simple-to-make dishes costing less than $5 a piece. Ordering the cheeseburger, called the JSB, and club sandwich, the HRC, was quite an ordeal. Although we requested cheese and mayonnaise as the burgers’ only condiments, the articulate waiter replied, “actually, [the kitchen] prefers it if you tell them what you don’t want.”

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At that point it was obvious, student-workers who pool their tips staffed the café.

My colleague and I headed for our one trip to the soup and salad bar, where a sign in bold reminded patrons to get only ONE soup and ONE salad. We reluctantly tried the cream of pumpkin soup, that day’s festive special.

The soup tasted like watered-down potato whisked in cream with a hint of cinnamon, rosemary and thyme. Although my colleague and I appreciated the creativity, the end product was less than satisfying. The salad, which included baby spinach and iceberg lettuce chopped into small bits, was quite tasty. The croutons were to die for, with a crisp homemade taste.

Approximately seven to 10 minutes later our dishes arrived. My colleague took a moment to look over his turkey club, piled high with delicious extras. The bread was toasted to perfection and the fresh turkey and crispy bacon evoked pre-meal salivation. The light spread of mayo and enticing, juicy fresh-from-the-vine tomato pulled the sandwich together. It was damn good.

The burger, on the other hand, came with only cheese. We concluded the mayo request was lost in the bureaucratic, behind-the-stove translation of a busy restaurant. My colleague asked for the burger well done, but received what resembled the raw hindquarters of California’s happy cows. The fries, included in most meals, were excellent. Each individual fry had its own crispy, lightly salted taste.

While the food at that point was satisfying, the service was something else. Not once throughout the meal did our waiter glance over to check on us. We got about as much attention as a back-up little league right fielder. Nevertheless we were quick to forgive because the waiters’ minds are occupied with the bustle of a high-impact cafe and the pressures of classes, homework and midterms.

To round out the experience, we thought we would take with us two meals. We ordered the flat iron steak, rare, with a side of fruit kabob and a healthy medley of veggies. In all the six-ounce portion will set you back less than $6, with tax. In addition, the chicken caesar salad, which came piled high with crisp lettuce and creamy dressing was a treat.

Although my colleague took only one bite from her burger, we both agreed the steak was cooked perfectly. Savory and just right, the flat iron steak is possibly the best deal in town. The salad wasn’t too shabby either.

The JSB cafe can be somewhat hit or miss, depending on the day. Both the French dip sandwich, although not on the regular menu, and the grilled cheese, are very good.

In going to the café please remember that student-workers, who are just as broke as you are, staff it. They do their best to bring you the best food on campus, and for the most part, they do.

Remember to tip your hat, chef cap or hair net to the students working at the café. Always remember to tip generously. Leaving the cafe, we could not believe that we had only spent $25, including the tip.

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