It's been a long time since we've been to Jigger's, and in the meantime, it sat empty for almost a year, with new owners Steve and Karie Head cleaning and renovating this jewel of an official Worcester Dining Car. They opened in mid-September. The diner has been at its Main Street location since 1950, and when it was redecorated in the early '90s, the floor tiles were matched to the original green ones under the countertop, the six-and-a-half booths (one has seats only on one side) were refurbished, and the large red clock from the original Worcester car was re-hung.
That nostalgic diner theme is carried through with a line of more than a dozen stools running the length of the diner, with four more tucked into a corner near the front window. Blackboard specials augment the regular menu, and those caught both of us with a "loaded baked potato" omelet ($8.50) and a smoked salmon/cream cheese/avocado Benedict ($10.50).
Bill noted two things, as he tucked into the latter: "This is the best breakfast I've had in a long time" and "the avocado goes so well with the salmon." A sample confirmed that indeed those flavors play nicely off each other. Though he yearned for a bit more lemon spark in the Hollandaise, he praised the generous portion.
Meanwhile, I was working my way through said omelet. Our waitress Sarah explained that the "loaded baked potato" was basically a "theme," with bacon, cheddar, and home fries tucked inside the omelet. She mentioned that I could sub broccoli or spinach for the bacon, and I took her up on it, choosing the broccoli as a better friend to the cheddar and the potato.
This was served with a yummy fruit cup and toast. I also had to try Jigger's renowned jonnycakes, as a side order (two for $2.89). Although these are made from a different cornmeal (Kenyon's) than in Jigger's last incarnation, they were quite good: large as a small saucer, very crispy on the outside, dense and corny on the inside. Real maple syrup would be $1.99 extra; I stuck with butter.
Karie Head's restaurant experience was many years running Oatley's in Exeter; Steve is a retired Newport policeman, eager to compare his new job with his old one. He joked that he always took orders as a cop and now takes them from his partner Karie and the kitchen staff. More seriously, he has learned quickly that "there's no analysis in the kitchen, there's just 'get it done!' " Steve is loving the interaction with people at the restaurant, especially on one of only three real Main Streets in Rhode Island.
The breakfast menu is wide-ranging, with Jigger's home-made corned beef hash (even available in a Benedict); a triple-decker breakfast sandwich (ham, Swiss, cheddar, and turkey between slices of French toast); and build your own omelets or pancakes ("fire-roasted" Fuji apples are an add-in option).
But we wanted to try some lunch items and were again tempted by the blackboard: fish and chips ($10.99); panko-crusted salmon burger ($8.50); hot dog and fries ($5.50). In the end, we went back to the regular menu for Jigger's "all natural burger club" ($7.99) and the panini titled "Georgia turkey 'n' slaw" ($7.59). We also ordered a cup of chicken vegetable and a cup of corn chowder ($2.99 each).