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Jun 27, 2011 04:18 AM

Brunch in Boston - J.P.Licks, Boston's secret restaruant

J.P. Licks is a Boston-area chain of ice cream parlors. The secret surprise is that the the Jamaica Plain branch is a large, comfortable coffee shop that serves food: muffins, bagels, croissants with cheddar and egg fillings, all kinds of coffee drinks and fabulous Belgian waffles. All under the Va'ad.

Go for the Belgian waffles. They dress the waffles up with fruit and whippd cream, maple syrup or a scoop of their wonderful iced cream or frozen yoghurt. It is a wonderful lunch, or a light meal. Go any day, But a favorite on Sundays when a walk along Jamaica Pond or through the Arboretum can be followed by brunch. Equally appropriate destination for a light meal or snack for business colleagues, dates, adults and families with small children. Probably the best kosher place in Boston.

But back to the waffles. They are amazing. Crispy, hot, perfect. Visitors to Boston should make this one of the treats of their visit.

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  1. Is it worth going if one doesn't do dairy? I.e. Is there enough parev stuff for a non-dairy-eater to be happy and not wonder why he bothered coming?

    2 Replies
    1. re: zsero

      Well, the Belgian waffles are wonderful. And they serve them with very good maple syrup. There is a sense in which they are worth the (pretty short) drive from Brookline. Plus the outstanding coffee. But that's about it.

      This is milky heaven, the tip off is the giant Holstein mounted on the front of building. They are all about dairy. the coffee and tea (chai) drinks are worth the journey. And especially the cream ice cream. No flavoring. Just seriously wonderful, pure, sweet iced cream. The ultimate taste of summer - for dairy lovers.

      Seriously, Rubens is a very good traditional deli. Rami's may be the best falafel this side of the Atlantic. If you don't do dairy, better stick to Brookline.

      But for those who like dairy, it is worth a stop on a weekend or summer visit to Boston. And a great place to meet and visit with friends or family in Boston.

      1. re: AdinaA

        Thanks for this. The kids are off to Boston tomorrow and they will love this. I am jealous.

    2. Thanks so much for the tip. It is nice to see a useful tip on Chowhound!

      20 Replies
        1. re: sig

          Of course not. Why would it be? So if you keep CY, see Adina's answer to me above; if you're already there you won't go hungry, but it's not worth a special trip.

          1. re: zsero

            The statement/question: "Of course not. Why would it be?" seems quite odd to me. I don't know Boston at all, so I'm not sure what is common there for kosher restaurants, but I certainly see an advantage for a kosher dairy restaurant to be CY, if possible. It might be that not every dairy restaurant is, but it's far from a strange question to ask, it seems to me.

            1. re: queenscook

              But this is *not* a kosher dairy restaurant. As should be very obvious to all, it's a non-Jewish restaurant in a non-Jewish area that happens to be kosher. There's no way that such a place would be CY, and it's ridiculous to even imagine that it might be. Why would a restaurant go to the expense of going CY, when not 1% of its customers would care about it? Springing for a cheap hechsher is remarkable enough, but can be justified by even a slight increase in sales; more than that just doesn't make sense, unfortunately.

              1. re: zsero

                Why such vitriol? I said that I didn't know Boston at all, so there's no way that I would know it's a non-Jewish restaurant in a non-Jewish area. . . not "obvious to all," when not all of us live in Boston. Now I can understand that being CY would not be a high priority.

                However, how can you say it's not a kosher dairy restaurant? If it is under the Va'ad, and it serves dairy, then it is, by default, a kosher dairy restaurant. If a Subway fast-food place has hashgacha, even though the chain may not be kosher, that particular one can still be called a kosher meat restaurant.

                1. re: queenscook

                  I think the relevant example is, would you expect a kosher Dunk Donuts or Tasti D Lite to be Chalav Yisrael?

                  1. re: queenscook

                    Perhaps Zsero meant that it's not your typical kosher dairy restaurant. The place has a causal coffee shop vibe. But, considering the size of the greater Boston commmunity (all told there are fewer shomer shabbos families in all of Massachusetts than in any one of the Five Towns) the wonderful thing is that it's not only kosher, it is under the very reliable supervision of the va-ad ha ir, the Va'ad Harabonim of Boston (KVH).

                    And, it's all about the ice cream. J.P. Licks is a regional ice cream chain. A staple of the Boston-area university student diet.

                    The surprise, to me, was that at the Jamaica Plain (not a Jewish neighborhood) location, you can sit down and have a light meal (bagels, eggs with cheddar on a croissant, a few other choices,) get seriously good coffee or tea fixed a million different ways, and Belgian waffles that are worth writing home about.

                    All of this in an atmosphere where one can meet non-shomer shabbos people, even colleagues, without embarrassment.

                    In a smallish community like Boston, it's a mechiyah.

                    1. re: queenscook

                      It should have been obvious, because it's a chain. As the OP said, "J.P. Licks is a Boston-area chain of ice cream parlors." One branch happens to have a hechsher; that doesn't make it a "kosher restaurant", i.e. one whose purpose is to serve the kosher market; it's a general restaurant that just happens to be kosher. Coca cola is not a kosher company; it's a general company whose products happen to be kosher. That's an important difference.

                      A kosher Subway is different, because it's aimed exclusively at the kosher market; at the prices it has to charge it can't compete for the general consumer. So its fair to call it a kosher restaurant, and wonder if it's not glatt. But take the case of Dunkin' Donuts; they're not CY, and will never be CY, though if they're in a heavily Jewish area they might provide CY milk for coffee.

                      1. re: zsero

                        I am fairly sure that all locations have hecshers. It's just that that location is the only one with real food. The other locations tend to be in densely Jewish locations like Newton Center and Coolidge Corner or near colleges like BU and Tufts with big Jewish populations. The JP location is the original and perhaps that's why it has an actual cafe.

                        1. re: DeisCane

                          "Staying true to our commitment to serve the customers of each neighborhood in which we do business, everything J.P. Licks makes and serves is Kosher certified to meet the needs of many of our Jewish customers..."

                          1. re: DeisCane

                            Well it would be great if they did go CY, but I really don't think that's a practical proposition. For that matter, Milk Street is not CY.

                        2. re: zsero

                          Your argument that a kosher Subway is something more than a kosher JP Licks is less than a non-sequitur.

                          1. re: skipper

                            On the contrary. It should be obvious why, but in case it wasn't I explained it. If you don't understand it that's nobody's fault but yours.

                            1. re: zsero

                              Zsero. I truly, truly think you should get a new IP and return to Wikipedia. We really need you there.

                        3. re: queenscook

                          i would go with J.P. Licks is a dairy restaurant that happens to be kosher certified just like oreos are cookies that happen to be kosher vs paskesz which is a kosher cookie company. In terms of J.P. Licks going Chalav Yisrael, the amt of extra business they would get would be minimal. The # of people who keep chalav yisrael in Boston is small and for the tourist trade of chalav yisrael visitors is relatively small that it would not be worth the expense of kashering everything for the summer months. Getting chalav yisrael milk products to make everything on their menu is probably much more expensive than in the NY area where most kosher dairy restaurants are chalav Yisrael. Also, since J.P. Licks is not in the "kosher zone" the majority of their business is not kosher. J.P. Licks make also make their ice cream at a central location.

                          1. re: koshergourmetmart

                            "Also, since J.P. Licks is not in the "kosher zone" the majority of their business is not kosher."

                            While your CY argument makes sense overall, it should be noted that many of JPL's locations are in heavily Jewish areas, with relatively high kosher-keeping populations (for Boston): Newton Center, Coolidge Corner, Harvard Square (Harvard students), Davis Square (Tufts students), West Roxbury (southern Brookline/Maimonides), Mission Hill (hospital population).

                            1. re: DeisCane

                              While it is true that the other JP Licks are in kosher neighborhoods, how much of the boston population keeps chalav yisrael? For that matter, how many kosher bostoner area residents really eat out? We lived in Sharon for 4 years (98-02) and found that kosher people (in sharon as well as Boston) did not really eat out. In Sharon, there was a small restaurant in the local bookstore that closed. Even today with the advent of Susie Fishbein's cookbooks and the readily availablity of upscale kosher ingredients there are no really great gourmet kosher restaurants in boston. There have been numerous complaints on this board about the kosher chinese restaurant in brookline. JP Licks will see no real bump in business if they go CY so why should they do so?

                              1. re: koshergourmetmart

                                Like I said, I agree that CY doesn't really make sense. Boston's haredi population is fairly small and mostly crammed into Sharon and Brighton. Having spent roughly 7 years in Boston, I also agree that eating out is less common in Boston than in NY/NJ.

                                At the end of the day, CY restaurants are rare outside of areas with strong haredi populations--MIA, NY/NJ, and Israel, for the most part.

                                I really just wanted to correct what I thought was a misleading statement about their locations.

                                1. re: DeisCane

                                  i should have said that the location in jamaica plains is not in the "kosher zone"

                                  1. re: DeisCane

                                    Actually "out of town" locations are *more* likely to be CY than those in the great Jewish centers -- provided that they're targeted at the kosher market. In NYC for instance there are enough people who keep kosher but not CY for it to make sense to target that segment. Giving up the custom of those who keep CY may be worth it in order to keep expenses down. But in Boston a dairy restaurant that depends on the already-limited kosher market must cater to that whole market, so it has to be CY. However a place like Milk Street or J P Licks is different; its main customer base doesn't care about kosher, let alone CY. Going kosher can be a commercial decision, that the small extra expense is worth the small increase in income; or it can be a religious decision, as in the case of Milk Street. As a commercial proposition, going CY is unlikely to bring in enough extra income to justify the expense; as a religious decision it depends on whether the owner himself keeps CY, and how strongly he feels about it.

                2. Can anyone confirm whether brunch food is still served at the Jamaica Plain branch? Kind thanks.