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Phantom Gourmet: Breakfast At Jake's In Northampton

NORTHAMPTON - What do you get when take two world class chefs, and put them in charge of an old school greasy spoon? You get something that is way beyond your average breakfast.

Jakes has been serving the city of Northampton homestyle comfort foods for decades. So when the opportunity came up for two longtime old friends to buy the space in their beloved hometown, they jumped at the chance.

"I've known him for over 25 years. Went to Boy Scouts together; we're in band together; worked in a lot of kitchens together," Alex Washut said of his friend and business partner Chris Weir. "It's pretty great to start a restaurant with your best friend."

Both Alex and Chris have a background in fine dining, so when they took over, they not only gave the dining room a face lift, but also they rebuilt menu. They added everything from breakfast burgers, to low country style shrimp and grits, to an amped up BLT made with pork belly topped with an egg.

Jake's, Phantom Gourmet
BLT made with pork belly and topped with an egg at Jake's (Image: Phantom Gourmet)

"It's comfort food," Alex said. "When people eat these things, we're hoping it's bringing back memories. That's what good food does."

The dish Alex and Chris are most passionate about is their hash.

"I love hash. I love corned beef hash, but I was getting tired of it. We sat down and we realized we had 50 different kinds of hash," Alex recalled.

All of these creative hashes are displayed on a board that greets you as you walk in, and the recipes rotate daily.

Depending upon when you drop by, you could find Red Flannel Hash loaded up with roasted red beets, peppers, tarragon and arugula, or the ultra-indulgent Bacon Cheeseburger Hash.

"Who doesn't like a good bacon cheeseburger?" questioned Alex. "Taking something that people know and people love and manipulating it into breakfast food - so Bacon Cheeseburger Hash. You take a bite of it and all you're missing is the bread."

Jake's, Phantom Gourmet
Shephard's Pie Hash at Jake's (Image: Phantom Gourmet)

No hash is more near and dear to these boys hearts than the Shepherd's Pie Hash, a recipe inspired by Chris's mom's specialty, loaded with potatoes, ground beef, carrots and onions and then topped with Cajun creamed corn.

"Shepherd's Pie goes back to Chris's Mom. She made the best Shepherd's Pie growing up."

"She had some staples and that was definitely one of them," agreed Chris."

For something more customizable, order one of Jake's "Swazys" - sizzling skillets of potatoes that can be topped with anything from sautéed spinach, mushrooms and avocado, to ham, sausage, bacon and sour cream.

Jake's, Phantom Gourmet
Potato Swazy's at Jake's (Image: Phantom Gourmet)

"It's sort of 'build your own loaded potatoes'. You can put anything you want on there and we'll do it up for you."

When it comes to the sweet stuff, the kitchen likes to get creative with everything from pancakes packed full of crazy ingredients like kiwis and almonds, to Apple Cobbler inspired French Toast, loaded up with fresh apples, crunchy pecans and an indulgent caramel drizzle. If you want a savory spin on French Toast, they have you covered too.

Jake's, Phantom Gourmet
Savory French Toast with pork belly, guacamole and more at Jake's (Image: Phantom Gourmet)

"We did a Tabasco savory batter with crispy pork belly, guacamole, arugula, cheddar cheese and we layered it and stuffed it, and we finished it with hollandaise sauce with some house pickled jalapenos and onions," described Alex.

Benedicts are also way beyond what you're used to, like one featuring roasted salmon with sautéed spinach and tomatoes, or Steak and Cheese Benedict which brings a lunch time favorite to breakfast. For a south of the border start to your day, order up Jake's El Paso Rancheros.

"EL Paso Rancheros is kind of our take on Huevos Rancheros but we're using a real country-style jalapeno corn bread. Thick, really, really good," said Alex. "We grill the cornbread and we'll put two eggs any style on top, with Pico de Gallo, sour cream and some scallions - and it's a meal. It's a meal, definitely."

Jake's, Phantom Gourmet
El Paso Rancheros at Jake's (Image: Phantom Gourmet)

If you're looking for the ultimate breakfast bargain, look no further than the Five Dollar Hollar.

"The Five Dollar Hollar is our Jake's Sandwich," explained Alex. "It was important for us not to have a sandwich over five dollars and have it be a meal. So, king-sized English muffin toasted, two eggs over medium, shaved shallots, sliced tomato, spinach, cheddar cheese and it's a monstrosity."

Jake's, Phantom Gourmet
Five Dollar Hollar at Jake's (Image: Phantom Gourmet)

While these two chefs love making all this food at their own place, it's even better that they get to do it together.

"It's like brothers," Chris said, standing next to Alex.

"Yeah, it's like working with your slightly older brother," Alex chimed in. "You're excited about it. You aggravate each other. You love each other."

"And at the end of the day you always hug it out, no matter what happens," said Chris.

You can find Jake's at 17 King Street in Northampton, and online at

Watch Phantom Gourmet on Saturdays and Sundays at 10:30 and 11 a.m. on myTV38.

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