By Lise Boullard

We Be Jammin’

Whenever a new restaurant opens up on Commercial Drive, it's a big deal. With its string of institutions that have withstood the test of time — Havana, The Reef, Marcelo's to name a few — there simply isn't much real estate left for newbies. But if the lineups pouring out of Jamjar since its October 2014 opening are any indication, the Lebanese eatery is a welcome addition to the ‘hood. Maybe that’s because the new kid on the block is unlike anything the city has ever seen.

“There simply aren’t very many Lebanese restaurants in Vancouver,” says Lebanon-born owner Fadi Eid, who left a career as a food and beverage manager at the Fairmont to open up the eatery. His concept for the “folk Lebanese” restaurant is to serve healthy, traditional Lebanese mezes (fattoush salad, roasted eggplant dip and saj-fresh flatbread) made with super fresh seasonal ingredients, plus a few dishes normally found only in Lebanese homes. “Lebanese restaurant menus are usually quite fixed but we serve stews like Lamb Laban Immo — lamb shank cooked in a yogurt sauce and served with rice,” he says.

Most items are meant to be served family-style, and washed down with Lebanese beer or cocktails laced with cooking spices (the Date Lavender Old Fashioned with date molasses, fresh lavender and lavender syrup, is a must). Brought to you in a laid back, modern setting (think reclaimed wood tables, antique mirrors and windows), Jamjar is the ideal spot for date night, girls’ night and everything in between.

I live a healthy lifestyle, so I took the mindset of something fresh, something healthy, something unique, and applied it to this concept. - Fadi Eid, owner
Jamjar - Traditional Lebanese Cuisine, Homemade Hummus to-go, Cocktails
From fresh mint labneh to crispy falafel, Jamjar is a culinary bazaar.

Hummus and Run

But Jamjar doesn’t stop at dinner and drinks: hummus-lovers may be stopping by on grocery day, too. That’s because the restaurant’s creamy homemade dip is sold retail in reusable glass jars ($4.75 for 8 oz. and $7.50 for 16 oz.), which can be brought back for discounted refills ($3 to $6). And if the sustainability and wallet-friendly factors weren’t reason enough to keep coming back for refills, each month chefs will experiment with two seasonal, nontraditional flavours (the one deviation from Fadi’s commitment to traditional Lebanese recipes). October 2014 was Indian Masala and sweet maple and chestnut.

When asked how he came up with such a brilliantly simple idea, Fadi says he was inspired by the culture of his homeland. “The whole idea of Lebanese cuisine is based on sharing. That’s where the concept [for selling hummus jars] took shape. Back home in Lebanon we do tons of jams because of the abundance of fruits. Sharing jars of jam is a way of showing affection to your neighbor…so that’s where the name came from,” he says.

Jamjar - Traditional Lebanese Cuisine, Homemade Hummus to-go, Cocktails

Community Corner

This sense of sharing and community is the very reason Fadi chose Commercial Drive as the location for the restaurant. “I lived here three years ago and it’s the only place in Vancouver that I feel is a neighourbood. It’s the only place I feel I can say hi to people on the street and they say hi back,” he explains.

We can’t wait to stop by, jars in hand, to fill up on next month’s flavour.

Jamjar - Traditional Lebanese Cuisine, Homemade Hummus to-go, Cocktails
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