210422JESSICAS

Jennifer Spangler, a member of The Gazette’s restaurant review team The Four Dishes, enjoyed breakfast for supper by ordering this bacon hash skillet from Jessica’s Family Restaurant in Whitewater. The dish featured hash browns, onion, bacon and eggs, and she added an English muffin and some hot sauce for good measure.

WHITEWATER

American food, family restaurant, diner. When you want homey comfort food or a place to take your parents or grandparents for dinner, those are the best descriptors.

The menus are all pretty similar, but some places are definitely better than others. Jessica’s Family Restaurant in downtown Whitewater is just that: a family friendly place with a huge menu and good food. It is my dad’s favorite restaurant.

The decor is simple and comfortable, with a row of semi-private booths that is not unlike most family restaurants. The carpeted floor lends itself to a subdued and quiet atmosphere where you can sit and have a conversation without fighting to be heard over background noise.

Historical photos—a feature I always appreciate in a restaurant—adorn the walls, telling the story of Whitewater’s past.

Jessica’s has been in town since 1991, and it is easy to see why it has stood the test of time. The food is home-cooked, and the service is great.

I stopped in one late Friday afternoon, the only day Jessica’s stays open for dinner in addition to breakfast and lunch.

After placing takeout orders for the rest of the group, I decided to stay and eat my meal in the restaurant. The waitress was pleasant and extremely helpful, and the place was quiet despite activity picking up toward the dinner hour. The fish fry at Jessica’s is obviously quite popular.

I ordered the Cajun salmon salad ($8.99). The meal came with homemade soup (or salad), so I opted for the creamy clam chowder with its large chunks of clam.

There was a nice mix of greens in my entree salad, which also boasted asparagus, onion and a hard-boiled egg. I loved the oil and vinegar dressing with bits of herbs, and the large piece of salmon was perfectly done—flaky with a crunchy, spicy topping.

I was told the desserts come from a bakery in Chicago, but I just couldn’t resist a piece of the chocolate cake ($3.99). It was three-layered and fudgy with dark chocolate and little chocolate chips nestled around the edge. A rich, chocolaty dessert is never disappointing in my book.

With the vast selection of food choices on the menu, Helene opted for a burger. All of Jessica’s burgers are made from 1/3 pound of meat, except for the papa burger, which is a half-pounder.

Helene chose the Jessica burger ($7.99) and a side of fries ($1.29 for fries or soup/$1.99 for both). The burger comes on a toasted bun much like McDonald’s, only bigger and better. It was topped with grilled onions, mushrooms and green peppers along with a slice of American cheese to provide an added layer of creaminess.

Upon request, you can also add lettuce, pickles and tomato, which she did, but those additions weren’t really needed. Ordered medium, the burger was not overcooked but was instead juicy and flavorful. The fries were delivered crispy and proved highly addictive. It was a good choice overall.

Nikki got the broiled cod ($9.49) for her entree. The fish fry dinners come with soup or salad, choice of potato (or corn if you order a nonfried option), coleslaw and bread.

The meal consisted of three pieces of fish that were tender and moist, with a bright seasoning of paprika and a light buttery sauce. Adding a quick squeeze of lemon made it perfect.

The coleslaw had a mayonnaise base and was crisp and tasted fresh. She picked salad with blue cheese dressing as her side, and it was a hearty serving of greens and sliced cucumber and tomato. If you order the fish fry, make sure you come hungry because you will get a lot of food.

After perusing the menu, what caught Jennifer’s eye was that breakfast is served all day. With that in mind, she chose the bacon hash skillet ($7.49).

Golden brown hash browns were served with a seemingly endless amount of sauteed, chopped onion and crispy bacon pieces topped with two eggs, any style. Jennifer chose scrambled.

Instead of toast, which came with the meal, she substituted an English muffin for 89 cents. What a hearty breakfast! Adding a touch of hot sauce gave the dish an extra kick she very much enjoyed.

Yes, breakfast for dinner. Although a rare occasion, Jennifer recalls her mom serving breakfast at dinnertime. It was always a special treat for her and her sisters, and that heartwarming memory came to mind as she savored her meal.

The Four Dishes—Nikki Bolka, Helene Ramsdell, Jennifer Spangler and Beth Webb—review regional restaurants for The Gazette.

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